So a book club in Dublin that I am looking at joining was this month reading The name of the Wind by Patrick Roftuss, and John Scalizi’ Old mans war. Having already read The Name of the wind back in 2011, i really only needed to read this to be ready for the book club.
The book is simply a tale of an old man, who chooses to enlist in the space army to be rejuvenated and get a new lease on life in the colonies after his term of service.
There are some very interesting elements in the book. For example the old people who sign up to join this army have no idea how they will be rejuvenated, however they are perfectly willing to do so, as the chance of dying in the ten years after they could enlist apparently runs in the very high likelihood.
So at first the book is asking, would you jump for a lifeboat, if you didn’t know how it worked?
After it is explained how it is done we get a short training montage, and then off to see the war in action.
I have often heard this work been described as very similar to a Heinlein story been told in a modern way by a modern author. I can defiantly see a lot of elements that would remind me of that. The training montage is similar to a lot of things in Starship Troopers, also our hero is in the Heinlein mould. He is someone who gets things done, thinks about his actions but when the time comes knows which way to jump.
I loved a lot of the technology within the book with things like the Skip Drive FTL technology been very interesting, though the explanation of how the it works gives me a headache. I suspect that in universe it is a concept that really is badly explained by the english language, and would be better if you could get the maths. I won’t try to explain it here, but it is a variant of an FTL transit system I don’t think I have encountered before.
Another interesting idea is the BrainPal. A computer in your head, that can send and receive messages, and will learn to respond to your wants and needs before you can articulate them. I admit that i want one.
The big problem I have with the book, is that there is no real reason to keep how the rejuvenation will be done a secret. At least none that is explained within the book. Also the disparate technology level between Earth and the CDF makes little sense, why keep a major source of what could be a production centre so behind the tech curve that they can’t help, even while you fight what seems like a total war!
The book itself was Hugo nominated in 2006 and the Author won the John W. Campbell award for new writers.
I have gotten the second book in the series, and look forward to reading it.