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February 21, 2007


Andrew Janssen

I think you may be missing a crucial point with Old Man's War, that being that Scalzi pretty explicitly has created a universe where if humans aren't xenocidally imperialistic towards other races, those other races will quite cheerfully be xenocidally imperialistic towards us.

Gabriel Mckee

Andrew-- You're correct, but that construction of the universe serves to further the attitude towards war that I was writing about. Demonization of the enemy is a staple of wartime propaganda (and it appears as such in "The Forever War" as well). Most of the alien races in OMW are cartoonishly evil (just as the inch-tall Covandu are cartoonishly pathetic), and though it was fun to see the ways in which Scalzi built up their villainy, their depiction is the means by which the novel achieves its picture of war.


"Heinlein was in the Navy for a few years, but never saw combat*, and Scalzi has no military background. "

Serving in a peacetime Navy is pretty close to serving in a wartime Navy; you do all the things you do during a peacetime exercise as war except experience your ship being blown up from enemy action.

"Another character gives an interpretation of his death that sums up the book's attitude towards diplomacy:

"Walking up to a bunch of people whose planet we just destroyed and acting like he was their friend. What an asshole. If I were one of them, I'd have shot him too." "

The character also goes on to say that she wants to get high enough in the CDF to change the way the military is employed. It's not diplomacy per se that is being talked about (later in the book the narrater is sent on a diplomatic mission but .. it's diplomacy done the way the aliens want it done) but the approach that Bender took.

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