First published in 1974 and winner of the 1975 Hugo and Locus awards, Forever War by Joe Haldeman kicks ass.More than just a book about a futuristic war, Haldeman describes a society built around the codependency of the industrial military complex and with a fluid dynamic socio economic culture that is fascinating to watch unfold.And the welfare recipients get a bag of dope with their check.Haldeman s protagonist, William Mandella, is in an elite military group that travels light distances to battles Transportation being what it is, less than light speed, it takes decades, even hundreds of years for the troops to reach the fight and meanwhile, society changes around him When he reaches the end of his career, thousands of years have passed and he does not even speak the same language as his fellow citizens and the war he signed up for is ancient history.Haldeman, himself a Vietnam War veteran, brings an empathetic perspective to his futuristic warrior portrayal.Thought provoking and original, this is a MUST for science fiction fans 2016 Reread.Reading this again, I think for the third time, reaffirmed my love for this book Reading after a couple of decades the first time in HS, and then again only a couple years later in college I seeof Haldeman s subtle humor.I can also see, from a 2016 perspective, how this could be seen as homophobic An extremist, shock value idea in the 70s could be seen as insensitive now, but I get what he was doing and in context he was making a statement about nonconformism and parallel changes with his experience coming back from Vietnam.His hard SF ideas like relative time and the stasis field are great, but his statements about cultural and sociological changes are what makes this a great book.One of my all time favorites and Again a MUST read for fans of the genre and a damn fine work of 70s antiestablishment literature I need to readfrom him 2018 addendum This is such a great book and he s such an amazing writer Some friends and I were talking about some of his other books but I m always drawn back to this one I recall the later passages were he doesn t even speak the same language as his unit, the time has separated them so much, but this may also be a metaphor for senior leadership being out of touch Like many great books, this works on multiple levels I ll reread this again, it s that good. Yeaahhhh I m ready for some hard science fiction Maybe a generous 2.5 Just for the overall concept.Let s start with the positive I enjoyed following a main character struggling to adapt to the changes on Earth while he s at war 2 years for him end up being 26 on Earth due to time relativity It only gets worst as the war progresses The rest was a mess for me This book is often mentioned as a classic sci fi and is on so many best sci fi of all time lists To me a classic has to survive the test of time and this book did not age well Like at all.I understand that some parts of the book are there to show us that the main character is old fashioned compare to others but oh my was this a frustrating read then unleashed Stargate s eighteen sex starved men on our women, compliant and promiscuous by military custom and law , but desiring nothing so much as sleepI What I d gotten used to open female homosex in the months since we d left Earth Even stopped resenting the loss of potential partners The men together still gave me a chill, though.Of courseThese are just two quotes out of a dozen other ones I could include The writing style wasn t for me and I didn t care about the characters at all In its defence, I m not big on military fiction so the battles bored me but I expected that I just can never get over how little I care about people dying left and right I m not sure if the ending was supposed to be a twist or a deep moral of the story but it was kinda obvious and pretty much already how things seem to be nowadays.Overall a big miss for me In case any movie producers are listening in, ten reasons to film The Forever War 1 Gratuitous sex and nudity.2 Social relevance it s about Vietnam, stoopid 3 Evil aliens.4 General relativity.5 Wormholes Interstellar, Joe Haldeman was here first 6 Freaky high tech zone where you can only fight with swords.7 Unexpected twist view spoiler The evil aliens actually turn out to be good aliens hide spoiler The Earth S Leaders Have Drawn A Line In The Interstellar Sand Despite The Fact That The Fierce Alien Enemy That They Would Oppose Is Inscrutable, Unconquerable, And Very Far Away A Reluctant Conscript Drafted Into An Elite Military Unit, Private William Mandella Has Been Propelled Through Space And Time To Fight In The Distant Thousand Year Conflict To Perform His Duties Without Rancor And Even Rise Up Through Military Ranks Pvt Mandella Is Willing To Do Whatever It Takes To Survive The Ordeal And Return Home But Home May Be Even Terrifying Than Battle, Because, Thanks To The Time Dilation Caused By Space Travel, Mandella Is Aging Months While The Earth He Left Behind Is Aging Centuries While it reminded me of Heinlein s Starship Troopers and Avatar especially the beginning where recruits are told about all the things that could kill them and how they likely wouldn t make it back alive , Haldeman s Forever War takes a different turn Haldeman s book focuses on a soldier fighting an interstellar war Because our character is traveling to his battles at near light speed, when he returns to earth between missions, decades pass Haldeman speculates about the social changes taking place, changes that our character has difficulty adapting to or fully accepting Despite social changes, there is one constant the war continues Haldeman s book still resonates. I bought and read this book based upon the many glowing reviews I saw on the internet It s heralded as a classic and one of the best Sci Fi books of all time I have to disagree.I liked the concept Scientifically, it was intriguing However, the story was repetitive and slow The exact same thing kept happening over and over again Set up base Boring Battle, many people die Get back on ship Stay in space for a long time Get bored Return to base Go back out Repeat.There were long, long stretches where just nothing happened Also, the character development was just non existent The enemy was only described in appearance but never described for what they were In fact, even the battles with the aliens were dull and lifeless.The protagonist is barely developed He is just a hapless soldier who just wants to get laid on a regular basis And for half the book he has his pick of any woman he wants and apparently has sex almost every night And other than having some difficult command decisions to make, we learn virtually nothing about his character I was sorely disappointed by this book and just can t recommend it to anyone. Catch 22 is often cited as one of the great books about the futility and inherent paradoxes of war I think this is easily its equal, but is often overlooked because it is dismissed as just science fiction.By using the tropes of SF, Haldeman vividly illustrates not only the psychological effects on the combatants, but also the desperate disassociation wrought between the soldiers and the rest of society his reference point was the Vietnam veterans, but it could apply anywhere and anywhen There are some moments of genuine horror too, especially when you start to understand what the narrator is telling you A serious contender for my top ten books of all time. With the anniversary of D Day being just a few days ago, this was timely reading Joe Haldeman s book, The Forever War is engaging, well written, and meaningful, originally published in 1974 It was a Hugo and Nebula winner I read an edition published in 2010 which Haldeman identified as the definitive edition I read the first edition back in college in the mid eighties While I remember greatly enjoying the book in college, this re read was muchimpactful I don t know if that is due to my naivety back then, or the changes in editions The story is written in first person from the perspective of Private William Mandella Haldeman effectively pulls from his personal experiences from Viet Nam He tells a very readable story and successfully conveys several themes Solders in wartime, often return disconnected from their personal relationships and have challenges in reconnecting with family and friends Solders are also often faced with culture shock , losing touch with changes in society and face difficulty integrating into everyday life after living through war s horrors Countries and economies can become dependant on war, limiting incentives to find peaceful solution War can escalate, losing touch with its original objectives Certainly, for many solders, after being caught up in a life and death struggle and attempting to protect and save their fellow soldiers, are often left with a void, when considering, what was it all for Haldeman uses science fiction including time dilation to magnify these themes He also creatively tells of some drastic culture shifts which the MC faces when returning from duty This book is a masterpiece, both as a straight up science fiction story, but also as an allegory for the horrors and hopelessness of war. Still a classic Want a war driven novel constrained by the limits of relativity but still as inexplicable, funny, and as sad as the regular kind How about a novel right out of 1977 that explores what it means when all of society transforms over millennia into something awfully strange a world where the hetero norm has become a homo norm in response to overpopulation To where the old outdated concept of future shock is dusted off and given new lifeTo where it s only reasonable for old soldiers to re up forever in hope that their world will resemble something sane once they get back AGAIN.In a lot of ways, this is less a parable about future war than it is a Science Fantasy extrapolating what it means to be a veteran returning to a changed world and what it means to be completely and utterly lost to the life you left behind Taken perhaps a bitextreme than that of the soldiers coming back from Vietnam, maybe, but the concept is still quite valid.Fortunately for all of us, there s not just tragedy and isolation here, but humor, absurdity, and a good solid story among the cool SFnal alien murders and explosions and the problem of troops, soldier confraternity, and cats on ships It still holds up nicely for an old Hugo winner.
Jack C Haldeman IIHaldeman is the author of 20 novels and five collections The Forever War won the Nebula, Hugo and Ditmar Awards for best science fiction novel in 1975 Other notable titles include Camouflage, The Accidental Time Machine and Marsbound as well as the short works Graves, Tricentennial and The Hemingway Hoax Starbound is scheduled for a January release SFWA president Russell Davis called Haldeman an extraordinarily talented writer, a respected teacher and mentor in our community, and a good friend Haldeman officially received the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master for 2010 by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America at the Nebula Awards Weekend in May, 2010 in Hollywood, Fla.
- 278 pages
- The Forever War
- Joe Haldeman
- 19 April 2019 Joe Haldeman