Old Man's War
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John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army.
The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce―and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.
Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity's resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don't want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You'll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You'll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you'll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.
John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine―and what he will become is far stranger.
break.” I kept my togs on. I set my PDA on the table, stepped up to the crèche, turned around, leaned back and settled in. Dr. Russell closed the door and stepped back. “Hold on one second while I adjust the crèche,” he said, and tapped his PDA. I felt the human-shaped depression in the crèche shift, and then conform to my dimensions. “That was creepy,” I said. Dr. Russell smiled. “You’re going to notice some vibration here,” he said, and he was right. “Say,” I said while the crèche was
out.” “How do you think that’s possible?” Javna asked. “I don’t know,” I said. “I didn’t even know how skip drives worked until a day before the attack. Knowing what I know, it doesn’t seem like there should be any way to know a ship is coming.” “What do you mean, ‘knowing what you know’?” Newman said. “Alan, another squad leader”—I didn’t want to say he was a friend, because I suspected they’d think that was suspicious—“said that skip drives work by transferring a ship into another universe
Forces?” I asked. “I can’t imagine it,” Bohr said, and the others nodded. “We’re all soldiers together. It’s what we do. It’s who we are.” “That’s why we find you so interesting,” Mendel said. “This idea that this life would be a choice. The idea that there’s another way to live. It’s alien.” “What did you do, sir?” asked Bohr. “In your other life?” “I was a writer,” I said. They all looked at each other. “What?” I asked. “Strange way to live, sir,” Mendel said. “To get paid for stringing
staring back at me. Major Crick got right to the point at the morning briefing. “CDF intelligence believes the Rraey are frauds,” he said. “And the first part of our mission is to find out if they’re right. We’re going to be paying a little visit to the Consu.” That woke me right up. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. “What the hell do the Consu have to do with any of this?” asked Lieutenant Tagore, who sat directly to my left. Crick nodded to Jane, who was sitting near him. “At the request
Its accommodations were modest but featured a portable stasis chamber. It would keep Jane stable until she could make it onto one of the ships and back to Phoenix for medical attention. I recalled how Jane and the crew of the Sparrowhawk stuffed me into a stasis chamber after my first trip to Coral. It was time to return the favor. A series of bullets whined through a window above me; someone had remembered I was there. Time to move again. I plotted my next sprint, to a Rraey-built trench fifty