Tag Archives: John Scalzi

Review of John Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” Series

I had the pleasure of reading five related stories by John Scazi recenty — Old Man’s War, The Ghost Brigades, The Sagan Diary, The Last Colony, and Zoe’s Tale. The series ultimately revolves around Zoe Boutin Perry, and are told from the perspective of her adoptive father (Old Man’s War, The Last Colony), her biological uncle and her adoptive mother (The Ghost Brigades), her adoptive mother alone (The Sagan Diary), and, lastly, by Zoe alone (Zoe’s Tale).


The series brings to mine the Ender series, by Orson Scott Card. This is true because they share similar themes (interspatial warfare against alien species), some of the same rhetorical tricks (like Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow, The Last Colony, and Zoe’s Tale give different perspectives on the same events), and because both series are typically categorized as “young adult science ficition.”

Both the Ender’s series and the Old Man’s War series, however, also contain deep themes that save them from a literary ghetto. The later books in the series focus on questions of morality and war: “How can I ask people I do not even know to die for people I do?,” Zoe asks a friend in Zoe’s Tale. In The Sagan Diary, Zoe’s adoptive mother recalls with contept the arrest of an enemy who led his colony in a futile, and suicidal, defense against overwhelming odds. In The Last Colony, she and her husband are then given just such a mission. Earlier books dwell on the question of identy. Early in Old Man’s War, Zoe’s adoptive father watches his body die, and the reader begins to learn how advanced genetic engeering has evolved to the extent that special forces (like Zoe’s adoptive mother) that they only physically resemble human beings as part of a design decision.

The Old Man’s War series is well worth reading. Still, differnet books will appeal to different readers. Two are narrated by males and two are narrated by females, and I suspect that men and women will enjoy those books in different ways. Likewise the overlap between The Last Colony and Zoe’s Tale is substantial enough that most readers probably will read one or the other, but not both.

The author, John Scalzi, maintains an active blog at whatever.scalzi.com. John Scalzi discussed his work, The Last Colony, during a 2007 talk about google:

An old friend

Today went extraordinarily well.

I played badminton with an old friend who is an occasional contributor to the comment sections of this blog, and enjoyed it immensely.

I also had a meeting with my advisor (the chair of my doctoral committee), which went much better than I could have hoped. I now transition from working on what I had been calling a pre-proposal to a proposal, which is one of the last stages in the Ph.D. program. So good for me!

I also have been impressed with John Scalzi‘s books, Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades. Amazon’s audiobooks seem to be handled through Audible, which I subscribed to years ago (before I came to UNL). I enjoyed the series, and I saw that even with Audible’s prices (which are cheaper than iTunes), I would save money subscribing a month at a time rather than buying audiobooks individually.


Lo and behold, I enter a username and password… and there pops up my old account, which I had from 2001 to 2004! Very cool. I can even redownload any of the old books, if I want. I remember listening to audible on a Rio PMP 300. Audible, my old friend.

But for now: on to The Last Colony!