So this week I’m reading Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi, in which citizens of Earth and other planets are offered―in exchange for ten years of service in the
Space Force Colonial Defense Force (hereafter “ SF CDF”), which does interstellar battle against hostile aliens―a rejuvenation treatment which (allegedly) returns them to their days of youth and vigor. Because the SF CDF wants recruits with plenty of years of knowledge and experience, but doesn’t want to be on the hook for their Medicare payments, or something.
In this scene, the new recruits―all of them age 75 or older―are milling around the mess hall of their transport ship waiting for someone to tell them what’s going on. And on this ship, unlike my understanding of how it is aboard every other military vessel ever, the food they serve is, apparently, delicious. Or at least it’s as good as Denny’s. YMMV.
While we were waiting, the mess hall had begun to fill up with other recruits who had presumably boarded before us; after an hour there were hundreds of us milling about. I had never seen so many old people in one place at one time. Neither had Harry. “It’s like Wednesday morning at the world’s biggest Denny’s,” he said, and then got himself more coffee.
If I sound a little dubious about the rejuvenation treatment being offered to the aged recruits, it’s because I haven’t actually gotten to the part where they receive it, and I’m not at all convinced it’s what the recruits think it is. One thing raising suspicion is that recruits are never permitted to return to their home worlds after departing for service in the
SF CDF, and are, in fact, declared legally dead the moment they depart. For all I know, what really happens is they get their brains sucked out and inserted directly into robots or fighter ships. One minor character, who dies before getting the chance to even begin the evaluation process, is referred to by one of the SF CDF officials as “A last-minute volunteer for the Ghost Brigades”. This is treated as a bad joke by the recruit who hears it, but I’m not sure the person was kidding …
Meanwhile, speaking of ghosts, editing continues on Father’s Books!
Pedro stood in front of his window, buttoning his shirt, staring across the sloping field of trees toward the roof of the old man’s house. The cops had only just closed up shop for the night, leaving the house barricaded behind plastic sawhorses and yellow tape. The place had looked weird in the upward-slanting glare of the lights they had set up, as if it were telling scary campfire tales with a flashlight under its chin, but the gloom they left behind after being switched off was worse. In that darkness, anything could be happening.
Yes indeed, Pedro. Yes indeed.