Long Branch Book Club

‘Old Man’s War’


On Nov. 1, the Long Branch Book Club met to discuss Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. While all the readers found the premise of joining the space military at age 75 intriguing, a couple members experienced difficulties suspending their disbelief in the futuristic world Scalzi created. In Scalzi’s future, humanity has reached the stars and discovered similar alien races already warring over habitable planets that humans also want to colonize.

Those of Earth who join the Colonial Union, which governs all human space travel and colonization, have their consciousness transferred into a new and improved, young body. The catch is they must use this body to fight the Colonial Unions enemies of which there are hundreds of alien races.

Those who had trouble getting into the book observed that part of the problem was the novel’s patriarchal viewpoint. The other members agreed that the narrative was very masculine in nature and not just because it was told by the main character, John Perry. The futuristic world was male dominated, with most high ranking officers being male. All the officers who were active in the novel were male.

Upon discussion, the members found that the novel, published in 2005, revealed a stark contrast between their own world view of ’05 and now. In ’05, the members accepted America’s male dominated society and the saying, “boys will be boys” was still believed. Twelve years later, a glaring shift has occurred and what was tolerable is not any longer as women occupy more powerful roles in our society. Every day, it seems, a different prominent man makes the news being charged with sexual harassment that is purported to have occurred many years ago. Why are victims coming forward now instead of back then? The readers concluded that a power shift has occurred in our society. Further, it’s almost as if our society is in a social war between the male and female ways of thinking and acting, and male is losing, but none of the members had really paid that much attention until reading this book. Many speculated that they would have enjoyed the book 12 years ago, and the one member who read the book when it was published did it enjoy it more on that first reading than on this one.

Old Man’s War was optioned for a motion picture in 2011, but those plans fell through. In 2014, the Sci-Fi channel optioned it for a television show, but it has yet to air. Perhaps the problem is the social shift that is occurring in our culture.

A couple of the readers continued the series and enjoyed the sequels they had so far read more as the newer books relied less on militaristic storylines and were more humanistic, with a balance between female and male viewpoints.

The members were all happy they read Old Man’s War. Most agreed it was an enjoyable and exciting read. All concurred that the writing was excellent. Many of the Club expressed a desire to read newer Scalzi novels, especially to see how Scalzi’s writing changes as American society does.

On Dec. 6 at 5:30 p.m. the Long Branch Book Club will meet to discuss Once Upon a Christmastime, by Peggy Perry. Ms. Perry is a local Gonzales author. Once Upon a Christmastime is a compilation of heartwarming short stories, sharing a Christmas theme. Copies are available for purchase on Amazon or at the Long Branch Saloon.