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October 16th, 2011, 04:31 PM
In the 1970s or '80s, I read a sci-fi novel set in a nursing home; an old man, resident in the home, begins to have dreams of being revitalized and joining diverse aliens and other humans in battles between massive space fleets, dreams from which he awakens exhausted and confused, as well as old (still? again?). Then, little by little, the old man comes to realize that other residents in the home, women as well as men, are having dreams like his: they are fighting in--and sometimes not surviving--the same battles, serving alongside the same alien allies.
Toward the novel's end, as the old man lies dying in the nursing home, he dreams (not dreams?) that he is visited by a fleet commander who explains to him the value of his service, thanks him for his service, and awards him the decorations that his service has earned him.
The novel shares certain elements with (to my knowledge) at least two novels of the 1950s: John D. MacDonald's BALLROOM OF THE SKIES (1952)--in which earth is a recruiting ground for fleet commanders of beings from many worlds--and Eric Frank Russell's SENTINELS FROM SPACE (1951)--in which, in a solar setting, human beings play an important role in a greater, stellar conflict.
Because the novel whose author/title I seek shares elements with these two 1950s novels, the sought-after novel itself may also date as early as the 1950s, or maybe the 1960s; but it was in the 1970s or 1980s that I read it.

January 31st, 2012, 10:04 AM
ANY suggestions are welcome, as I'm really at a loss as to where to look next. I've begun to wonder even it the title sought was a (long) short story. As I said, ANY suggestions...
Terry :confused:

February 23rd, 2014, 01:08 AM
That does sound a great concept - nothing to do with Old Man's War by John Scalzi, which just has old minds transferred into new combat-ready bodies. I hope somebody can track it down, do let us know if you find the answer elsewhere!
Rina Riccobono

February 23rd, 2014, 04:09 PM
Thanks for your interest. So, here goes... Somehow or other, I have confused more than one author, probably more than one story. BUT, at least I can now identify the (the only?) author and main story line. The author is Dean Wesley Smith. One story is "The Gift of a Dream," pp. 170-189 in PAST IMPERFECT, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Larry Segriff (2001); "A Time to Dream, " pp. 258-272 in GUARDSMEN (2000), same editors; and HAND AND SPACE (2012), a VERY short stand-alone paperback (also available as a Kindle ebook; in print form, the story itself is only 38 pages long). These contain most of the elements I mentioned in my description, but are missing some; hence, I think there must be another author and book/novella/short story that I still haven't identified. If, indeed, there is another writer/work involved, he/it must be of great quality, and must have more subtlety than than evidenced by Smith in his stories; for, the ending that I remember VERY CLEARLY is NOT the ending that is found in any of these three Smith stories (and there is not, to my knowledge, a fourth story; and I've looked hard!).
Now, you can proceed to read for yourself, and to judge for yourself.