Old Man’s War is a tremendous, confident SF debut for well-known blogger John Scalzi. Openly patterning itself after Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, Old Man’s War takes an exciting tale of alien conflict and dresses it up intelligently with such themes as individual identity, what makes one human, the significance of mortality, and the ethics of life extension. Economically told at just over 300 pages, the story, peopled with remarkably well-drawn and memorable characters, never flags for an instant and steers a steady course without veering into self-importance or maudlin sentiment. Its a top-drawer first novel that should put Scalzi high on your “Writers to Watch” list.
That works for me.
One of the things I’ve really appreciated about the reviews I’ve seen so far — both on sites like these and on individual blogs — is that by and large they’re digging through the text to highlight things they find interesting as well as things they find aren’t quite working for them; in other words, classic criticism, aside from the simple “like it/don’t like it” dichotomy. As a writer you can’t ask for more than that.