“Forever Young” may be a song by Rod Stewart, but even more so, it is a fantasy dreamed of by many, many people. Long before and ever since Ponce de Leon searched for the fountain of youth, people have longed to stay young and live forever. John Scalzi takes that desire and gives it a sci-fi twist in a great book called Old Man’s War. The story follows John Perry on a fantastic journey. To give you an idea of just how fantastic, here is the first sentence of the book:
“I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife’s grave. Then I joined the army.”
OK, not quite what we would expect from a septuagenarian. I assure you, however, that is only the first of many surprises. I love how Scalzi blows away any preconceptions of what you think this book may be about and where it is going.
Humans have begun to colonize the galaxy. They are not the only species to do so, however, and many of those other species are not very friendly. That’s a bit of an understatement – most are downright nasty and want to destroy us because we are competition for the scarce number of planets that can sustain life. For this reason, the Colonial Defense Force was formed. Their job is to protect, defend, and secure existing and potential human colonies.
Now here is where the whole ‘forever young’ business comes in. The Colonial Defense Force only accepts new recruits once they reach the age of 75. Everyone knows that armies need young and robust soldiers, not elderly people. So the speculation is that somehow these recruits get rejuvenated. Speculation is all it is, though, because the CDF won’t tell anyone anything. Even the mere hope of restored youth is enough to bring in plenty of 75-year-old recruits, however, and our hero, John Perry, is one of them.
I certainly hope you read this exciting, imaginative, and well-written book. I enjoyed every minute of it and every twist and turn in the clever, futuristic plot. I really think that you will, too.