I've just finished reading Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades, by John Scalzi (one of Tor's authors, and the man behind The Whatever). What a ride! These books rock. Scalzi rocks. Period.
The premise of the Old Man's War Universe is simple: In the future, humanity has taken to the stars, and discovered that the neighborhood is rough. Human colonists must compete for interstellar real estate with many other alien races, who seem to like to compete with ordinance, as opposed to basketballs. War is expensive, and uses up warm bodies -even in the future- so earthlings are encouraged to enlist to protect the colonies, but only after their 75th birthday. Yes, that's right, seventy-cinco. Because in the future, they've got the body-swap/conciousness transfer thing down to a science.
Scalzi's world-building is on point; he's got his shit all worked out, but he knows just when to give it to you. His pacing is nice and tight, moving you along the plot all while giving you your expository stuff in nice manageable dollops. Fans of Robert Heinlein will totally dig these books. Old Man's War feels like a one-shot novel, because while the foundations for the larger story were there, it has a very satisfying ending. Considering it was Scalzi's first novel, that makes sense. The Ghost Brigades, on the other hand, while still being a self-contained story, really drops a hell of a cliffhanger on ya towards the end.
It's a good thing we just got the first shipment of The Last Colony, the third -and I believe, final, but I could be wrong- installment in the series into the office.
The covers for all three books are illustrated by John Harris. His spacescapes are awe-inspiring, they reflect the grandeur implicit in the themes that Scalzi works with in these books. To quote Irene Gallo, Harris' illustrations "resonate a sense of awe and scope, a kind of 'big picture' science fiction." Indeed. His loose, gestural style also gives off a kineticisim which echoes the fast-paced action in these books. A great pairing of illustrator with author, in my opinion.