Review: The Ghost Brigades

Series: Old Man's War: #2

After I read Old Man's War, I went looking for the sequels. While on paper The Ghost Brigades is the second in the series, it’s surprisingly different.

We get a lot more of a look into the CDF and specifically Special Forces, which was something that was interesting from the first book.

There are a few really interesting sci fi concepts here, including the more ‘standard’ ideas of genetically engineered super soldiers with upgraded healing / fighting abilities, but it also digs fairly deeply into how you can grow soldiers from scratch, give them the ability to learn rather quickly and share what they learned with one another. It’s a fascinating concept and I enjoyed it.

In the early evening of the second day, Andrea Gell-Mann introduced the 8th to the concept of profanity, which she picked up at lunch and shared just before dinner.

In addition, Ghost Brigades really starts to dig into ideas about just what consciousness is, how you can mess with it, and just what it means to ‘be’ a person. It’s a theme touched in briefly in Old Man’s War, but it really gets interesting here. Makes me want to know more…

One of my favorite things I’m finding about Scalzi? Every once in a while, he combines nerdy and funny in a way that’s great to read:

“How did you find the base if it was shielded?” Cainen asked. “I am curious, in a professional sense.”

“We dropped rocks,” Sagan said.

“Excuse me?” Cainen asked.

“Rocks,” Sagan said. “A month ago we salted the planet with several dozen seismic sensors, which were programmed to look for seismic signatures that suggested intelligently designed underground structures. Speaking from experience, secret bases are easier to shield when they’re underground. We relied on the planet’s natural seismic activity to narrow down areas to investigate. Then we dropped rocks in areas of interest. And then today we dropped several right before our attack, to get an exact sonic image of the base. Rocks are good because they look like naturally occurring meteors. They don’t scare anyone. And no one shields against seismic imaging. Most races are too busy shielding against optical and high-energy electromagnetic scans to consider sound waves much of a danger. It’s the fallacy of high technology; it ignores the efficiency of lower orders of technology. Like dropping rocks.”

Makes sense and I can just imagine the conversation in my head.

Certainly not what I expected in a sequel, but worth the read. Could probably even be read independently if you really wanted to. Not sure why you would though.