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THE FOREVER WAR Masterpieces of Science Fiction Easton Press

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With each book bound in genuine leather and accented with 22kt gold, it′s easy to see why Easton Press is one of our most popular requests. For nearly three decades, the Norwalk, Connecticut publisher has been releasing some of the most sumptuous and gorgeous books available on the market, from the best classic novels to science fiction, contemporary fiction, and countless With each book bound in genuine leather and accented with 22kt gold, it′s easy to see why Easton Press is one of our most popular requests. For nearly three decades, the Norwalk, Connecticut publisher has been releasing some of the most sumptuous and gorgeous books available on the market, from the best classic novels to science fiction, contemporary fiction, and countless beautiful, collectible multi-volume sets.


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With each book bound in genuine leather and accented with 22kt gold, it′s easy to see why Easton Press is one of our most popular requests. For nearly three decades, the Norwalk, Connecticut publisher has been releasing some of the most sumptuous and gorgeous books available on the market, from the best classic novels to science fiction, contemporary fiction, and countless With each book bound in genuine leather and accented with 22kt gold, it′s easy to see why Easton Press is one of our most popular requests. For nearly three decades, the Norwalk, Connecticut publisher has been releasing some of the most sumptuous and gorgeous books available on the market, from the best classic novels to science fiction, contemporary fiction, and countless beautiful, collectible multi-volume sets.

30 review for THE FOREVER WAR Masterpieces of Science Fiction Easton Press

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kemper

    This book is a military style space opera with …..Wait! Where are you going? Get back here. I hadn’t got to the good part yet. Give me a second to explain. Geez… OK, so yes, there is an interstellar war with human troops in high-tech armored suits battling an alien enemy on distant planets. I know it sounds like another version of Starship Troopers or countless other bad genre sci-fi tales that copied it, but this one is different. Hell, when it was published in 1975 it won the Hugo, the Locus an This book is a military style space opera with …..Wait! Where are you going? Get back here. I hadn’t got to the good part yet. Give me a second to explain. Geez… OK, so yes, there is an interstellar war with human troops in high-tech armored suits battling an alien enemy on distant planets. I know it sounds like another version of Starship Troopers or countless other bad genre sci-fi tales that copied it, but this one is different. Hell, when it was published in 1975 it won the Hugo, the Locus and the Nebula awards for best novel so you know it’s gotta be pretty decent. William Mandella has been drafted as one of the first troops that will be sent to fight the Taurans. There are points in space called collapsers that are like wormholes that will transport your ship to a distant area in the universe instantly, and humanity is fighting the Taurans to use them. Both races like to build bases on nearby planets to establish control of the area around the collapsers. Unfortunately, most of the planets out there aren’t anything like what we’re used to seeing in Star Wars. They’re usually cold lifeless rocks, and just training to use their suits in these environments is dangerous, let alone trying to fight an alien race they know little about. Mandella gets through training and manages to survive the first battle with the Taurans. That’s where the book gets really interesting. While the collapsers provide instant space travel, the ships still have to get to the nearest one and that means months of travel at near light-speed. It turns out that Einstein was right about relativity and traveling at near the speed of light makes time do some funky things. So while the troops on the ship feel like a journey only took months, years have passed for everyone else. When Mandella returns to Earth after his first battle, he’s only aged two years, but ten years have passed on Earth. Since Mandella has to do more and more light speed journeys, centuries pass on Earth even though it’s only been a few years for him. Mandella will return from missions to find that humanity has changed so much that he has almost nothing in common with the rest of the people, and since he manages to survive several campaigns when almost everyone else dies, he’s quickly becoming one of the oldest men in the universe during his ten year (subjective) enlistment. Another quirk of the time differences is that when the humans meet the Taurans, they can’t know if they’re battling alien troops who are centuries ahead or behind them in terms of military intelligence and weapons technology. So Mandella and his fellow soldiers may have a huge advantage or be severely outgunned. It just depends on if the Taurans they’re fighting started their light-speed journeys before or after they did. As the war drags on for century after century, it is both sustaining and draining Earth’s economy. Mandella finds himself losing all his family, his friends and his lovers to war or age. He is increasingly out of touch with Earth and the rest of humanity. The army continues to promote him, mainly because his seniority has reached ridiculous levels after centuries of service. One of the things that isolates Mandella is that homosexuality becomes the norm due to Earth overpopulation. In an ironic reversal of don’t ask-don’t tell, Mandella is the outcast that disgusts many of his fellow soldiers due to his unenlightened ways. Even the slang spoken by other soldiers becomes incomprehensible to him. Increasingly lonely and out of sync with everyone around him with almost no chance of surviving his enlistment, Mandella nurses the hope that the war will someday end during the large gaps of time he skips as he travels to his assignments. Joe Haldeman is a Vietnam vet, and this is an obvious allegory for that war with a weary soldier stuck in a seemingly endless conflict and realizing that even if he makes it home, he won’t fit in to the world he left. While Haldeman’s science and military background gives the book its detail and depth, it’s the tragedy of Mandella’s predicament that makes it a sci-fi classic.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    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 ba 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 see more of 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 read more from 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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Emily (Books with Emily Fox)

    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 wel 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 sleep... I... 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 course... These 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!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    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)] 8. Hive minds. 9. Feel-good happy ending. 10. Gratuitous sex and nudity.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    Yeaahhhh! I'm ready for some hard science fiction! Look! I got my glasses on all serious-like.

  6. 5 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    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 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Piotr Reysner

    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 s 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.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Scurra

    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. 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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Kuhn

    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 much more impactful. I don’t know if that is due 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 much more impactful. 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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    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 life... To where it's only reasonable for old s 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 life... To 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 bit more extreme 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. :)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Montzalee Wittmann

    The Forever War by Joe Haldeman and narrated by George Wilson is a good old fashion sci-fi adventure! Space travel, aliens, action, battles, social changes, military intrigue, and a hint of romance! This book has it all in written expertly! I hung on every word! I loved this book! I read this in 1975 or about then and couldn't remember all the details only parts and that I enjoyed it. I wanted to revisit this now that I am older and wiser. Also to see what social changes time has come true from The Forever War by Joe Haldeman and narrated by George Wilson is a good old fashion sci-fi adventure! Space travel, aliens, action, battles, social changes, military intrigue, and a hint of romance! This book has it all in written expertly! I hung on every word! I loved this book! I read this in 1975 or about then and couldn't remember all the details only parts and that I enjoyed it. I wanted to revisit this now that I am older and wiser. Also to see what social changes time has come true from the book. The narrator was terrific! Perfect for this story!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Trudi

    Well I think it's safe to say that I'm not the target audience for this book. This is hard sci-fi military space opera and I haven't even seen any of the Star Wars movies, or Star Treks, and only a handful of Doctor Who episodes (I only found out last year what a TARDIS is). I probably shouldn't have even been *allowed* to read this. Somebody Kemper should have ripped it right out of my hands decrying: "You're not worthy!" and they'd probably be right. Despite my keenest efforts, The Forever War Well I think it's safe to say that I'm not the target audience for this book. This is hard sci-fi military space opera and I haven't even seen any of the Star Wars movies, or Star Treks, and only a handful of Doctor Who episodes (I only found out last year what a TARDIS is). I probably shouldn't have even been *allowed* to read this. Somebody Kemper should have ripped it right out of my hands decrying: "You're not worthy!" and they'd probably be right. Despite my keenest efforts, The Forever War is in no way in my comfort zone or wheelhouse. Yet, I still enjoyed many parts of it very much. The hardcore battle stuff got to be a little overwhelming for my brain circuitry and I had a hard time putting it all together and keeping it all together. I wish there had been a lot less war and battle and prepping to go to war, and a lot more about this time dilation business and all the changes that were happening on earth over the course of HUNDREDS of years. More of that please!!! The ending felt rushed to me and we only get a glimpse of Haldeman's 'brave new world' before the final credits roll. Another thing about the ending: (view spoiler)[when it comes to the *why* the Forever War went on forever, I was a little bit underwhelmed. Yes, war can be stupid and senseless and I realize Haldeman is writing in the shadow of his Vietnam experience, but the "failure to communicate" argument just didn't quite zing for me. And I'm usually happy to get a "happy" ending, but for a book filled with war and carnage that Mandella gets his snuggle bunny Marygay after all against all odds seemed a bit *too* happy and Hollywood an ending for me. Sure, it made me smile, and I was glad for poor Mandella who had already been through the crucible many times, after all that shouldn't he get to ride off into the sunset with his sweetie on his arm? I suppose. But it all seemed so abrupt and neat -- back home gentlemen, after a horrible battle in which there were many casualties -- guess what? The war's been over for a long time. It turned out we didn't even have to be fighting it at all, it was a huge misunderstanding with the enemy. How embarrassing! But you get to pick whatever perfect planet you want to live on now, and guess what? The love of your life that you thought was dead, well she's actually alive and playing a clever game with time dilation so that she'll only be a nubile 28 year old when you are reunited. Yay! (hide spoiler)] But despite my complaints, I did enjoy this. I can see why it would be held in such esteem many years later and recognize the influence it would have had on a genre that we have established is not one I am fluent in. *cough* understatement *cough* I have loved science fiction in the past, but this one needed a bit more humanism for me and less battlefield tactics and logistics. Any kind of action/adventure/survival in space is a trip though and offers up its own unique blend of suspense, thrills and even terror. The Forever War is no exception on that score. The question I will leave you with is: it's been 40 years (800 by time dilation standards) -- when do we get the movie???

  13. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Cliched SF: "The Forever War" by Joe Haldeman I remember when I read Haldeman's "The Forever War"; it was considered a critique of "Starship Troopers". I have heard an anecdote that Haldeman attended an event where he was going to be on a panel with Heinlein and was dreading the meeting, fearing Heinlein would take him to task. Instead, Heinlein thought Haldeman's book was a great read and take on that theme, much to Haldeman's relief. If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Cliched SF: "The Forever War" by Joe Haldeman I remember when I read Haldeman's "The Forever War"; it was considered a critique of "Starship Troopers". I have heard an anecdote that Haldeman attended an event where he was going to be on a panel with Heinlein and was dreading the meeting, fearing Heinlein would take him to task. Instead, Heinlein thought Haldeman's book was a great read and take on that theme, much to Haldeman's relief. I don't think Heinlein thought "Troopers" was a bible for creating a utopia, but he was laying down some philosophical markers with it. It's nothing of the sort (an utopia that is). I already wrote a review of sorts of “Starship Troopers” per se. This is a review of “The Forever War” using “Starship Troopers” as counterpoint.

  14. 5 out of 5

    thefourthvine

    Okay, K asked me to elaborate on why I hate this book, so. Here we go. There was apparently a point in the distant, fortunately-gone past where all you needed to write science fiction was a good idea. Not a plot. Not characters. Not writing that was remotely competent or dialogue that sounded like human beings might say it or any sort of ability to extrapolate human society or even any understanding of what humans are like. You just had to have a good idea and you could write a classic! The Forev Okay, K asked me to elaborate on why I hate this book, so. Here we go. There was apparently a point in the distant, fortunately-gone past where all you needed to write science fiction was a good idea. Not a plot. Not characters. Not writing that was remotely competent or dialogue that sounded like human beings might say it or any sort of ability to extrapolate human society or even any understanding of what humans are like. You just had to have a good idea and you could write a classic! The Forever War is that classic. Here is the good idea at the core of this festering waste of words: war is hell, and relativistic war is extremely prolonged hell. Are you amazed? Are you awestruck? Are you stunned with Haldeman's brilliance yet? Well, you better be, my friends, as that is literally ALL HE HAS for you in this book. The rest of it? Oh my LORD. The hero is -- well, if he had more depth or dimension, I would probably hate him, but as it is, he's just a cardboard cutout of a neckbeard's MMPORG persona. There's a girl. She is technically also a soldier, but obviously she is really just there as window dressing/the object for Our Amazing Hero to moon over. There are future societies, each more ridiculous than the last (my favorite bit of ridiculousness: in the future, tobacco is illegal because it's a waste of farmland, which, fine, but marijuana is distributed free by many governments, because -- I guess it does not require growing?) There's a plot that is barely coherent and a war no one, including the author, gives a single shit about. And now I must issue a trigger warning; I will spoiler cut this for my friends who need to avoid descriptions of rape. (view spoiler)[The women in this book are supposed to be equal. They are in the army, they fight on the line, they are Modern Women. But they are ALSO expected to be camp followers. When they arrive at a station inhabited mostly by men, they are required, by law and custom, to have sex with anyone who wants them. Yup! A group of heavily-armed women who are nonetheless subject to culturally enforced rape. And that may be the fantasy of every lonely, pathetic dude incapable of actually interacting with women, but it for sure isn't something I want or accept in my supposedly-equal futures. (hide spoiler)] So. Just to be sure no one ever feels they have to read this amazingly awful classic, I'm going to spoil absolutely everything of value about this book. Here we go: War sucks. Don't have one or be in one if you can possibly help it. The end! And now you never have to read this awful, awful book, you lucky person, you.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    I'm really surprised this has such a high rating. There's really not much to it.Okay, it presents a cool concept. What would it really be like to fight a war with an alien race across the vast reaches of space? Even with something that allowed you to "jump" vast distances you would have to get to these places. As the ship you travel in nears the speed of light, time for you slows down. So for the main character who was born in 1997, he returns from the war in 3143 having aged only a few years bu I'm really surprised this has such a high rating. There's really not much to it.Okay, it presents a cool concept. What would it really be like to fight a war with an alien race across the vast reaches of space? Even with something that allowed you to "jump" vast distances you would have to get to these places. As the ship you travel in nears the speed of light, time for you slows down. So for the main character who was born in 1997, he returns from the war in 3143 having aged only a few years but the world he knows is no longer there.  Of course along with this is all the technology changes that comes along. The main character will go out on a mission and come back and find all this new technology waiting. New weapons, medicine, food, language, customs, well you can imagine. All this was interesting but honestly, it wasn't enough.The plot almost saved the story, almost. Have you ever been told to do something and the whole time; you're doing it you keep saying to yourself "this is so stupid why am I doing this?" That was what the war with the aliens was like for this whole book. Finally, character development: William Mandella is the main character and other than having a high I.Q. and also being physical fit you never really learn anything about him. I never developed any connection with him. Mostly because I didn't know anything about him and just didn't care one way or the other.I think I'll skip the rest of this series!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Apatt

    I first read The Forever War a couple years ago in audiobook format, I quite liked it but to be honest it did not leave much of a lasting impression. I suspect the audiobook format is not suitable for this particular book, I don’t remember there being anything wrong with the narration, I just could not retain much of the details after finishing it, just a vague feeling that it is quite good. I love audiobooks, but I am beginning to think that short sci-fi books are not really the ideal for this I first read The Forever War a couple years ago in audiobook format, I quite liked it but to be honest it did not leave much of a lasting impression. I suspect the audiobook format is not suitable for this particular book, I don’t remember there being anything wrong with the narration, I just could not retain much of the details after finishing it, just a vague feeling that it is quite good. I love audiobooks, but I am beginning to think that short sci-fi books are not really the ideal for this format. Which brings me to the reread in print format, The Forever War often crops up in “favorite sf books” discussions and I feel as if I haven’t really read it and this won’t do. As you might expect The Forever war belongs to the subgenre of “military science fiction”, a subgenre I normally avoid unless the author has interesting points to make about war or military life. Books that focus on the action or thrills of military campaigns are anathemas to me. This book is more of an exploration of the nature and principles of warfare than about details of battles (though there is some of that also); basically it is an anti-war novel. The book I finished reading just before starting this reread of The Forever War is Brave New World, it is interesting to compare the two as sci-fi books. To me the Aldous Huxley book is not really sci-fi as the emphasis is on the social satire and the futuristic setting and sci-fi tropes are tools for the author to communicate his cautionary message. The Forever War is unabashedly sci-fi, certainly it is an allegory of the Vietnam War which the author Joe Haldeman served in. However, Haldeman’s knowledge of physics and engineering is clearly evident in the hard science parts, and the futuristic tech is clearly aimed at sci-fi readers. The only soft or handwavium sci-fi element is the FTL spaceflight through “collapsar jumps”; and this plot device is very cleverly and logically used to explore the implications of time dilation. The book is very well written and the (first person) narrative tone gradually changes from a sardonic tone in the early chapters to a more matter of fact tone and then a melancholic tone towards the end. The book is too short and densely plotted or all the characters to be fully developed but the protagonist William Mandella and narrator is very sympathetic and believable. I also love the way the book suddenly switch from the war setting to a dystopian near future Earth, then back to the war and then a far future setting for the novel’s conclusion. The middle section set on Earth is really my favorite part of the book, with the drastically changed culture and social mores. If I have one complaint it is the overlong section which tells the story of the final battles with the aliens Taurans, personally I always find scenes of military engagements very dull, though you may feel differently. Fortunately when that is over we arrive at a wonderful twist and denouement, I do not find the eventual fate of Mandella and his girlfriend quite believable but it is by no means unsatisfactory. While I was reading about the final battles in the later chapters I was speculating whether to rate this book at 4 stars because I found those battle scenes a little tedious, but after finishing it I feel a 5 stars rating is a more accurate representation of my esteem. ____________________________ Update May 2, 2015: The Forever War movie is coming! Reread anyone?

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bookwraiths

    Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews The Forever War is touted as one of the best science fiction military novels ever written. At least, that is how I’ve always heard it described, and so going into this one, I was expecting lots of gritty Vietnam-inspired fighting and combat. And I got that. However, what I also got was an amazing mixture of science and societal evolution that made the fighting even more entertaining and the story as a whole well worthy of its “One of the Best Sci-fi Nov Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews The Forever War is touted as one of the best science fiction military novels ever written. At least, that is how I’ve always heard it described, and so going into this one, I was expecting lots of gritty Vietnam-inspired fighting and combat. And I got that. However, what I also got was an amazing mixture of science and societal evolution that made the fighting even more entertaining and the story as a whole well worthy of its “One of the Best Sci-fi Novels of All Time” tags. The story follows along behind a young man named William Mandella, who finds himself “drafted” into the world’s military force to fight an unknown enemy from deep space. So, naturally, the first part of the novel highlights his training, integration into the military, and the initial combat with the enemy: all of which was very entertaining. What was even more amazing, however, is the story of the evolution of Mandella’s Earth, as this societal change turns him from a normal, red-blooded, twentieth-century man into a fossil of an age long gone. All due to the disruption of time from space travel! There are lots of things to love about this novel, but I’ll restrain my enthusiasm to just two. One, I really thought Mr. Haldeman did an excellent job of portraying societal change over long periods of time. We all know human society changes, but usually it is so slow that older people never live long enough to see themselves transform from the human norm to the exception to the norm. However, here Mandella experiences this very thing first hand, finding that he is an alien among his own kind and an object of ridicule from new recruits, who label him a fossil of a passed age – even though he is only in his late twenties. But Mr. Haldeman does not stop there, but shows how these new recruits are themselves relegated to the trash heap of societal change. Something that clearly highlights that no one’s role in society is safe from the slippage of time and keeps the narrative interesting throughout. The other thing I love about this book is that Mandella is an ordinary soldier. He isn’t one of those quick-witted characters who suddenly become the general of the war; or the person outwitting all the lifelong diplomats and generals of the aliens; or some genetically modified killing machine with a super computer in his head. Rather, he is an ordinary man, who finds himself learning how to be a soldier and trying to do practical things to keep from being killed – including being lucky. In fact, Mandella never seems untouchable; his triumph readily anticipated; or his spaceship already fueled to carry him to his happily ever after. Nope, until the last page, I really wondered if things would turn out okay for this very real and very human soldier. The only thing I had a problem with was the ending, because it was a little sappy. However, I can’t harp about it very much, since I really, really wanted a decent ending to the story. I never expected a fairytale, happily ever after ending, but what I did want was one that at least left hopes for some small portion of happiness for everyone. As many reviewers have already stated more eloquently than I, The Forever War is a great sci-fi story. It is an experience that mixes testosterone-filled, military excitement with insightful, societal changes, adds in a bit of political corruption and warmongering before ending with a dash of hope. And my only regret is that I did not read it sooner in my life.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Conscript-to-brutal bootcamp-to-faraway-alien-war. Countless novels have followed this story structure, aping Heinlein’s Starship Troopers with mixed results. Like me, you might be getting tired of encountering this storyline. Tired of reading what too often turns out to be Full Metal Jacket In Space - Minus The Social Criticism. If that’s the case, borrow twenty bucks, get to a bookstore and order a copy of The Forever War. This is military-flavoured bootcamp-to-war Science Fiction in its finest Conscript-to-brutal bootcamp-to-faraway-alien-war. Countless novels have followed this story structure, aping Heinlein’s Starship Troopers with mixed results. Like me, you might be getting tired of encountering this storyline. Tired of reading what too often turns out to be Full Metal Jacket In Space - Minus The Social Criticism. If that’s the case, borrow twenty bucks, get to a bookstore and order a copy of The Forever War. This is military-flavoured bootcamp-to-war Science Fiction in its finest form, as refreshing and thought provoking as it no doubt was when it was released in 1974. Like Starship Troopers, this book is a template for the lesser works that have followed it. The story is a simple one. William Mandella is conscripted and sent to fight in a brutal, bloody war with an alien species. The battles he must fight are so far from Earth that the time-dilation effect of high-speed space travel turns his subjective months at war into years on Earth, his years into decades. Each time he returns to Earth human society has changed further, and Mandella’s is less and less able to fit in, to feel welcome, to feel at home. From this simple premise Haldeman spins a story of real insight and empathy, an extended allegory for Haldeman’s own war - Vietnam - and the tragedy of soldiers who return from conflicts to find both society and themselves changed so much that the only place they really belong is back on the front lines. This isn’t a typical blazing-beam-cannons military SF novel. Haldeman doesn’t obsess over laser wattages or projectile calibres, instead focusing his keen writer’s eye on the impact war has upon its participants. Haldeman has explored this territory a number of times, most successfully in All My Sins Remembered and some of his short stories (there’s a real pearler – ‘A Mind of His Own’ in a collection of his work called Infinite Dreams), and he brings an authentic and sensitive voice to his SF. When I found out after reading this book that Haldeman was badly wounded in Vietnam I wasn’t surprised – he writes war in a way I have very rarely seen in SF, less pew-pew!/Kaboom!, and more understanding of the pain and suffering, both physical and otherwise, that soldiers go through. Haldeman’s novel equals Heinlein’s classic in its social observations and intellectual heft, but in my opinion The Forever War is a more empathetic work, engendering genuine pathos for Mandella and his comrades. It really is a landmark classic of Science Fiction.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    Originally reviewed 2009, I just came back to put in a spoiler tag, which I didn't know how to do at the time...oops. Interesting take on things. In a way in the end this is more an "anti-war" book than a stand alone novel. It unfortunately reflects the Utopian type views that came out of the 60s/70s reaction to Vietnam, the one that asks the question, "what would happen if they gave a war and nobody came?" Of course the unaccepted (but logical)answer to this question is, they bring it to you. Se Originally reviewed 2009, I just came back to put in a spoiler tag, which I didn't know how to do at the time...oops. Interesting take on things. In a way in the end this is more an "anti-war" book than a stand alone novel. It unfortunately reflects the Utopian type views that came out of the 60s/70s reaction to Vietnam, the one that asks the question, "what would happen if they gave a war and nobody came?" Of course the unaccepted (but logical)answer to this question is, they bring it to you. See the Twin Towers in New York as a reference to what happens when someone gives a war and you don't come. I always find the phrase "anti-war" rather pompous, like war is a place or a thing you can decide to avoid on your own. One side almost always wants to avoid any war. Just saying "war is bad" we won't participate" doesn't work, just ask Neville Chamberlain. ****************** I'm giving a spoiler warning here on this one as I want to comment on the way Haldeman ties up the book....so, spoiler beyond this point. *************************************************** (view spoiler)[In the end of this book after generations of war (the characters are able to fight much of it because of the time distortion involved in near light speed space travel), we and the alien enemy learn to communicate (finally) and both sides say, "why did you start this thing?" To which both sides answer, "us? You started it!" Thus he sets up an ideal scenario, or idealist scenario. A scenario where both sides are logical and not being aggressive... In real life that seldom happens. The entire point of the book is that war is pointless...and in a way it is or can be. The only problem not addressed is that in dealing with a bully if you just choose not to fight, you get pounded. Oh well...idealism is good, I am an idealist to, but a grasp of reality is also important. Pacifism has been tried and tried, actually I wish it worked. For the pacifists to survive there have to be those who hold other ideals the ones that require (as Stephen King might say) taking a stand. Not till the return of Jesus Christ will we be able to beat our swords into plowshares I'm afraid. (hide spoiler)]

  20. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    This is obviously a classic in the realms of sci-fi and of anti-war novels, and another book with thousands of reviews that I can't improve upon, but I'll just offer a couple of insights. One of the primary concepts from the book is the main character returning from space travel (complete with Spacial Relativity) to an Earth that was completely foreign to him; it was a massive dose of culture shock which progressed deeper and deeper the further the story went. I was in the US Air Force for 22 yea This is obviously a classic in the realms of sci-fi and of anti-war novels, and another book with thousands of reviews that I can't improve upon, but I'll just offer a couple of insights. One of the primary concepts from the book is the main character returning from space travel (complete with Spacial Relativity) to an Earth that was completely foreign to him; it was a massive dose of culture shock which progressed deeper and deeper the further the story went. I was in the US Air Force for 22 years, and can say without a doubt that returning to the US after a 4-year overseas assignment to the Philippines, that this type culture shock is a real thing. I was stationed there from 1985-1989, and basically immersed myself in the Philippine culture. When I returned to the US in mid-summer 1989, there was so much that had changed in 4 "short" years. Imagine being a military member sent to outer space, traveling through colapsars (wormholes), and returning to Earth a century or more in the future while you've only aged a few weeks or months. The other thing that the author captures very well is the lack of understanding of the "big picture" at the lowest enlisted level. This is something that will always be a factor in any military, even though you constantly hear, "think of the military objective". That objective is so obscure and far-off that the peons have no idea why they do what they do. They follow the propaganda that the enemy is "evil", and that our government is "good". This was Haldeman's view of the Vietnam War in a nutshell. His allegories, especially early on, with the battalions attacking Tauran "villages" were spot on, and the question of whether the troops destroying said villages as part of the overall military objective was something our troops continually struggled with, coming home with PTSD. He didn't mention it in the story, but you can see the effects of PTSD in a lot of the characters in the book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Raeden Zen

    An Epic Satire of the Art of War “‘Tonight we’re going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man.’ The guy who said that was a sergeant who didn’t look five years older than me. So if he’d ever killed a man in combat, silently or otherwise, he’d done it as an infant.” The opening paragraph provides a glimpse into the most intriguing aspect of “The Forever War,” that of the affect of time dilation, officially defined as: the principle predicted by relativity that time intervals between events in An Epic Satire of the Art of War “‘Tonight we’re going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man.’ The guy who said that was a sergeant who didn’t look five years older than me. So if he’d ever killed a man in combat, silently or otherwise, he’d done it as an infant.” The opening paragraph provides a glimpse into the most intriguing aspect of “The Forever War,” that of the affect of time dilation, officially defined as: the principle predicted by relativity that time intervals between events in a system have larger values measured by an observer moving with respect to the system than those measured by an observer at rest with respect to it. This concept is explored in the 1953 novel, “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke as protagonist Jan Rodricks travels to the Overlords homeland in a faraway galaxy; upon his return to Earth he has barely aged, while 80 years have passed for those who remain on Earth. In “The Forever War,” the concept is turbo-charged as we follow the travels of William Mandella between Stargate and phenomena called Collapsars (what we today would refer to as a black hole) and distant planets where a war with the Taurans rages for thousands of Earth years. The novel is broken down into the parts of Mandella’s life as he ascends from a foot soldier to a leader in the United Nations Exploratory Force (UNEF), which was assembled for war against the Taurans. As someone who studied the history of Vietnam, including the French occupation of Indochina and the American involvement (which began well before LBJ escalated the war), the metaphors and irony vis a vis the Indochina Wars (fought between 1946-1979) were striking; that the smartest and strongest are sent against the Taurans (vs. the US draft where often those who were the poorest and less privileged were sent against Vietnamese); that the Earth to which Mandella returns, many decades or hundreds of years later is very different from the one he left, unwelcoming and undone (vs. the US soldier who returned from Vietnam to an often hostile and volatile America very different from the one he left); that the war is a supportive crutch to a failing Earthen economy (vs. the US contractors who during the age of Vietnam had much production in the US, especially the East and West Coasts where employees for the defense contractors supported the local and national economy); that the theory was that Earth’s economy would collapse without the war (vs. a US economy that did collapse after its involvement in the war ended – though admittedly more from an oil shock owing to the Yom Kippur war than Vietnam, doubtless the end of lush government spending and contracts had an impact overall). Where the novel may disappoint readers is in the characterization of Mandella and his love interest, Marygay Potter. In the beginning, Mr. Haldeman ushers images that would make Ron Jeremy jealous, of orgies and fantasies; gratuitous love-making. “Actually, she was the one with the new trick. The French corkscrew, she called it. She wouldn’t tell me who taught it to her, though. I’d like to shake his hand. Once I got my strength back.” Unfortunately, we don’t get beyond this first layer and it takes away from the denouement. The bottom line: “The Forever War” is an epic story of the pointlessness of war, the impact it has on the troops and their families, and the tendency for mankind to descend to chaos rather than order. Fans of speculative fiction will find the technology and its descriptions riveting, the social changes thought-provoking (forced homosexuality and the “cure” for heterosexuality) though I wonder if they will care enough about Mandella to witness his conclusion.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

    Hey! This is not about American intervention in the Middle East! Really!!!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    The Forever War is a great classic military sci-fi joint for a few reasons: 1. Time dilation. Haldeman takes this one feature of space-time travel and makes it the central character of the novel. It messes with the protagonist's life, makes military strategy interesting in that your enemy could suddenly have weaponry far more advanced that you (or just as likely could be carrying sticks), and it gives the story a far-reaching feel. 2. Simplicity. There's no complex world-building (although some hi The Forever War is a great classic military sci-fi joint for a few reasons: 1. Time dilation. Haldeman takes this one feature of space-time travel and makes it the central character of the novel. It messes with the protagonist's life, makes military strategy interesting in that your enemy could suddenly have weaponry far more advanced that you (or just as likely could be carrying sticks), and it gives the story a far-reaching feel. 2. Simplicity. There's no complex world-building (although some hints are dropped about the visited planets) and long descriptions of evil empires. Space is a cold, lonely place with lots of big rocks. 3. Autenticity. I kept thinking that Haldeman knows what he's talking about, both in terms of the military elements, for good reason obviously, and in terms of the science. The reader needs to feel like the writer knows more than him and that box is triple checked. 4. Awesome concepts. The concepts were revolutionary and don't feel dated. I was shocked at how much from the Matrix was ripped off from Forever War. 4. Useful social commentary. The Vietnam context comes alive again with today's events. This book is a relevant comment on both eras. 5. Brevity. I'm a slowish reader and I read this over three days. I'm not always in the mood to take on a six-course meal of a book and it's nice to launch right into the story and ride the wave. Like a good military campaign, Haldeman gets in and gets out. Really enjoyed this.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lᴀʏᴀ Rᴀɴɪ #BookDiet2019

    I've had the longest fascination about war and the military lifestyle whether in historical books or works of fiction in general. There's just something deeply stirring about men and women giving up their lives in service of country or a government system even when that kind of loyalty demands death, destruction and bitter endings. I have great respect and admiration for this kind of people even if those things are mixed with pity and sadness as well. My enjoyment for reading, watching and learn I've had the longest fascination about war and the military lifestyle whether in historical books or works of fiction in general. There's just something deeply stirring about men and women giving up their lives in service of country or a government system even when that kind of loyalty demands death, destruction and bitter endings. I have great respect and admiration for this kind of people even if those things are mixed with pity and sadness as well. My enjoyment for reading, watching and learning about wars throughout histories is a double-edged one; on one hand, it does break my heart to know about such fragile and empty lives being sacrificed as people in such compromising positions have to face the sharpest consequences. On the other, I often view the bloodshed and deaths during war-times (fictional or not) to be the most thrilling and exciting stories ever told. To have literature grant me access and safe passage inside the heads of the people who were part of it, and travel the dystopic landscapes of such times will always be the most fruitful of my reading experiences. "This is really a novel about coping back to regular life after the thrills and traumas of conflict--and finding that you have become alien. If you want to tell a story about war, you need to find a way of articulating a profundity of alienation, a depth of strangeness and dislocation." Joe Haldeman's science fiction novel The Forever War was not quite what I was expecting and definitely belongs to the scarcity of books that were able to surprise me in both enlightening and despairing of ways right after finishing them. It tackled some themes concerning sexuality in a manner that I still wasn't sure how to feel about even at this moment, and it fulfilled my earnest desire to read warfare in both its cold and exacting nature and its terrible, malicious form. I felt entirely full on these aspects of storytelling because Joe Haldeman's experiences in the Vietnam War (which was partly an inspiration for this story) truly do come alive for this grand novel, and were contextualized with such an aching retrospection and an uncannily sharp-edged clarity infused with a wicked sense of gallows humor. This was a story about war and its aftermath and earth-shattering effects on cultures and societies from someone who genuinely knows what a battlefield looks, feels and smells like firsthand which makes the physical and psychological descriptions of the intergalactic and planetary battle scenes here quite haunting. The horrors depicted are uncomfortably clinical at times too. What was so notably interesting about The Forever War is its science jargon concerning time dilation during space travel which meant that the soldiers, who fight wars against the alien lifeforms they consider enemies named Taurans, are bound to age in a shockingly slow pace. And this is where the central conflict and existential mediation of the book delve deeply about. Told in the first-person perspective of William Mandella, The Forever War is not just a story about war and death or the dystopic concepts of harmony, progress and social change that have always been essential to any grim science fiction novel. The Forever War is foremost about isolation from humanity in the most visceral level of unfamiliarity that one tends to become alien even to himself. In his service as a war veteran and on-and-off-and-on again soldier on duty, Mandella has lived an almost immortal life where he could stay in a certain planet for five months but come back to earth a century later. This, of course, is a disconcerting transition, particularly when the world that you know changes and destroys itself in order to create a new cultural identity and status quo right before your very eyes and you have no other choice but to adjust to these abrupt changes. As exciting and wonderfully compelling the moments of Mandella being a soldier were, it's actually the daily grind of his civilian life post-war that provides this novel with its beating, bleeding heart along with all the messy and intricate parts. One of the shift in societal values in Earth is the normalcy of homosexuality and outright abolishment of heterosexuality (which eventually softened in another decade or so where now heterosexuality can be 'reformed' or 'cured'). Procreation between man and woman is now seen as a wasteful activity and biological harvesting is the more prevalent practice so homosexual couplings are encouraged so the population is kept under control as well as the eugenics that come along with it. It's an idea and plotline that has made me shiver. I identify as a queer woman though I'm not very political about it, or at all, honestly. I wasn't offended or anything like that because I always contextualize the times a book was written in before accusing the material to be hate-mongering or promoting discriminatory propaganda. True, I found the portrayal of homosexuality in this book as slightly offhanded and bizarre because the reversal of what was considered taboo, sexuality-wise, did not sit well with me, though I understand the point Haldeman is trying to get across by switching the roles. Now, I don't think this novel is trying to promote either sexuality but it does make an interesting argument concerning societal attitudes and how much they can be changed decades or centuries from now. Fortunately enough, I believe the generation of today is taking a more positive step forward in accepting homosexuality and other gender-specifics identifications outside what is considered 'traditional'. But The Forever War is a cautionary tale on how a wrong step does lead to a misdirection where an exclusion of one race, sexuality, etc. does in fact only reinforce damaging and harmful (if not utterly barbaric) way of thinking. Much like how the homosexual society of Haldeman's creation is now the oppressor of a minority it perceives to be sinful or unnatural. There may be plenty of discussions to be had on that aspect of the novel (and I'm sure other people online and in GR have talked about it too), and it's certainly the one that has struck a chord in me. In spite of that polarizing theme, this novel has a few other ways to engage anyone who enjoys science fiction in its most eye-opening, radical and unexpectedly humorous and moving of moments. William Mandella's crisis concerning the age-generation gap between him and the platoons he must handle and work alongside with had been an interesting development to watch, as well as his bittersweet relationship with Margay Potter, yet another soldier who is his only connection to a world that was lost to him for good, which provides the book with so much needed warmth and insight. I also loved the fact that, indirectly, this book also cautions us against the concept, if not the pursuit of some us, for 'immortality' and our rather stupid desire to acquire it. Life is only precious because it is supposed to be short. We are supposed to expire. But someone of Mandella's position is not allowed to live a brief yet fulfilled life but rather just exist by default, suspended in a sort of personal limbo of repetitive cycles because he can never be released from active duty as long as humanity keeps fighting its monsters, real or imaginary. This was really well-done in the book; Haldeman has given us a harrowing depiction of Mandella's struggle to fit in in an ever-changing world that always seem to leave him behind as he's stuck in a continuous loop of soul-crushing military service with little to no hope for a normal, well-balanced life. The Forever War is a highly sophisticated science fiction novel that happens to be only the first book of a series. Its writing is purposeful and meditative, filled with infectious moment of grief, action, philosophical dimensions, and, above all else, one man's tireless quest for a loving life against the suffocating immensity of deaths around him. Now I won't have time to read the next installment this year or the next but I am definitely going to follow up on it once I set up a new reading roster. RECOMMENDED: 8/10 DO READ MY REVIEWS AT

  25. 4 out of 5

    Leonard Gaya

    Joe Haldeman, a Vietnam veteran, wrote "The Forever War" in the seventies, and his novel soon became a classic of the so-called "military science-fiction" genre, in keeping with Heinlein's "Starship Troopers". The novel tells the story of an intergalactic war with an alien race, that spans well over a millennium, as seen from the point of view of Private Mandella. It starts with drill instruction and training on a freezing satellite of Pluto, expanding further on until the conflict reaches the f Joe Haldeman, a Vietnam veteran, wrote "The Forever War" in the seventies, and his novel soon became a classic of the so-called "military science-fiction" genre, in keeping with Heinlein's "Starship Troopers". The novel tells the story of an intergalactic war with an alien race, that spans well over a millennium, as seen from the point of view of Private Mandella. It starts with drill instruction and training on a freezing satellite of Pluto, expanding further on until the conflict reaches the field of the Great Magellanic Cloud, out of our galaxy. As expected from a novel such as this one, there are some very thrilling and sometimes disheartening combat scenes. The minutiae of military life, its protocol, language and techniques, are vividly and more often than not ironically described. And in the midst of all this, there is a (forever) love story with Private Marygay. It's moving to think that this female character bears the name of Haldeman's wife. But a few things struck me in particular: First, there is a very clever (and knowledgeable) use of physics, especially of the relativity theory, in the story: the war takes place in such a large setting that traveling from one place to the other at nearly the speed of light produces a stunning time distortion, and in so doing, the main character lives and witnesses the evolution of mankind through centuries. Second is that, in this vast period of time, human economics, language, way of life and, particularly, gender politics and sexuality evolves in unpredictable ways. Last, and certainly not least, is the fact that, when (around the middle of the book) Mandella comes back to Earth and to civilian life after his first campaign away from the Solar System, he has a strong feeling of being misplaced, and life on Earth feels more alien than the distant fields in the stars. I suspect that this feeling of subjective time distortion is shared by many a war veteran when, after a time in Vietnam, in the Middle-East or any other "forever war", they finally come back home. The novel ends with these ironic words: "The 1143-years-long war had begun on false pretenses and only continued because the two races were unable to communicate". It's not at all improbable that this could be said of quite a few wars in history.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    After completing The Forever War, I had to take a step back and think about what I’d just read. This is good and this is not so good. I did not particularly care for the story, in fact I’d expected better, but there was a meaning behind that story, and therefore I was left with an indelible impression. A lot of praise has been given to this book written in 1974 by Haldeman, a Vietnam Veteran. His experience is felt in these pages, but not in an obvious manner. The Forever War is analogous to wha After completing The Forever War, I had to take a step back and think about what I’d just read. This is good and this is not so good. I did not particularly care for the story, in fact I’d expected better, but there was a meaning behind that story, and therefore I was left with an indelible impression. A lot of praise has been given to this book written in 1974 by Haldeman, a Vietnam Veteran. His experience is felt in these pages, but not in an obvious manner. The Forever War is analogous to what war can do to man (mankind), yet it spans a millennium into the future, across an infinite outer space, against an enemy barely known. Yeah, that part definitely resembles the war. I like the main character Haldeman created called William Mandella. He is brash with a soft center. Too bad most of this book’s time is spent talking about the battles. That would not be so bad if what occurs had been more interesting. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good parts in here. Women fight this war too. Early on, Mandella meets Marygay. She becomes his counterpart (I could just say lover here, but she’s more than that). The book is at its best when these two are together. So why did I stop to think about this book after it was over? As the soldiers travel light years through worm-holes they age normally while those they leave behind can age ten, twenty, a hundred years. It all depends on the distance. In my mind, Mandella becomes a man trapped by time. What’s to go home to? In many respects, war is now his identity. One last thing to say: Loved the ending. Joe Haldeman saved the best for last.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    The Forever War: Not as much impact as I was expecting Originally posted at Fantasy Literature I had so many preconceptions about this book. It won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus and Ditmar Awards for Best SF novel back in 1975-6, and I knew it was a SF treatment of Joe Haldeman’s experiences as a soldier in the Vietnam War. So I was expecting something similar to films like Oliver Stone’s Platoon (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Brian De Palma’s Casualties of War (1989), Michael Cimino’s Th The Forever War: Not as much impact as I was expecting Originally posted at Fantasy Literature I had so many preconceptions about this book. It won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus and Ditmar Awards for Best SF novel back in 1975-6, and I knew it was a SF treatment of Joe Haldeman’s experiences as a soldier in the Vietnam War. So I was expecting something similar to films like Oliver Stone’s Platoon (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Brian De Palma’s Casualties of War (1989), Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter (1978), Hal Ashby’s Coming Home (1978), or a book like Neil Sheehan’s A Bright and Shining Lie, etc. Instead, the book felt a lot more like John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War in tone, along with Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers minus the libertarian sermonizing. To be honest, through very little fault of the book itself, I found myself a bit disappointed. I was expecting a searing condemnation of the horrors of war, the callous use of young soldiers by generals in the military, a painful inability to readjust to civilian life, and lost faith in a false Cold War ideology. The book covered all these themes, but in a very matter-of-fact, unadorned style. Perhaps I should appreciate that the author didn’t use a sledgehammer to drive home an anti-war message, but that’s what I kept looking for and not finding. Having been born in 1974, I have no memory of the Vietnam War and my first exposure to it was Oliver Stone’s iconic film Platoon in 1986, at age 12. It was really the first film I saw that realistically depicted the ugliness and chaos of war, and depicted the moral pitfalls of innocent young soldiers sent to fight an enemy in a foreign land, supposedly on behalf of the Vietnamese people, but discovering it was more about Cold War politics and containment of Communism than liberation or freedom. That film affected me very deeply – I was shell-shocked after watching it, and mesmerized by the performances of Charlie Sheen, Willem DaFoe, and Tom Berenger. I felt a strong connection to all the characters, and was shocked and horrified by some of their actions. But I learned that the fires of war can transform ordinary people and bring out their worst side. So I came to The Forever War expecting a story equally as intense and wrenching. But when you change the enemy from Vietnamese people to inscrutable aliens that cannot speak human language, you automatically prevent the reader from developing any sympathy for them. Granted, soldier William Mandella feels a bit of remorse when his first encounter with the Taurans results in a one-sided massacre, but he quickly adjusts to this reality and doesn’t really struggle with his conscience much afterward. There is no sense of the outrage that accompanied the My Lai massacre, for example. In fact, the book makes it impossible to feel anything for the aliens whatsoever, as they remain alien and inscrutable to the end. Mandella’s loyalties lie with his fellow soldiers, completely understandable, not some aliens intent on killing him. He goes from battle to battle just trying to survive, with the time-dilating effects of near-light travel meaning that many years have passed on Earth after each tour of duty. The book get more interesting when Mandella first returns to Earth and discovers that most things have gotten worse, and not much has gotten better. The world is overpopulated, the main industry is the war in space, and society has gotten more chaotic and violent. He and his fellow solider and lover Marygay Potter are taken aback by the poor quality of life in America and elsewhere. The biggest shock for them is that homosexuality has become widespread as a means of curbing population growth, and is encouraged by many governments. He feels quite uncomfortable at this development, and I’m not sure how much we should read into his attitude – just because a character behaves in a certain way doesn’t mean the author believes that. But in terms of the story, it seems implausible to me as a means of birth control. What about contraception? Surely in the future there would be other advances in medical technology to limit pregnancies. In any case, Mandella and Marygay find it impossible to readjust to life in this radically-changed society and elect to re-enlist in the military again. They request non-combat training positions, but are immediately switching into senior combat roles instead. And they continue to move up in the ranks, mainly through sheer luck of survival, while most of their comrades die in terrible ways. Haldeman certainly wanted to debunk the idea of heroism and individual merit in war – you’re either lucky or you’re dead. On the plus side, I thought the futuristic combat details of The Forever War were excellently portrayed. Haldeman seems to know his science quite well, and I can see how this book inspired a whole generation of military SF. However, I’m not usually interested in this subgenre with the exception of Lois McMaster Bujold’s MILES VORKOSIGAN series, because that is firmly focused on character-driven stories in a military SF context. The time-dilation effects of each tour of duty was also an ingenious metaphor for the disorienting social changes that soldiers encountered when they returned home. But again, I didn’t get a sense of intense struggle on Mandella and Marygay’s parts, just mild dislocation and dissatisfaction. In the end, I think The Forever War is a well-written and important book in the SF genre, especially at the time it was published, but I didn’t connect with it as much as I expected.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    Another classic among scifi novels and reading it back to back of course invites comparisons to Heinlein's Starship Troopers and I noticed that both explored new and often weird directions to break new ground while also criticizing the status quo on Earth at the time they wrote their respective novel. As such, I liked both very much. As Heinlein lacked action, this certainly had more of it though it was often brief and solely there to emphasize how veterans were treated, how time dilation works Another classic among scifi novels and reading it back to back of course invites comparisons to Heinlein's Starship Troopers and I noticed that both explored new and often weird directions to break new ground while also criticizing the status quo on Earth at the time they wrote their respective novel. As such, I liked both very much. As Heinlein lacked action, this certainly had more of it though it was often brief and solely there to emphasize how veterans were treated, how time dilation works and what medical advances there were for soldiers who had lost limbs. The Forever War mostly focused on the concept of coming home being as alien as first contact, especially when hundreds of years lie between deployment and getting out. Moreover, like I said before, the author loved to toy with ideas for humanity's future which led to the soldiers usually being stoned, most people being hypnotically conditioned like sleepers, all the soldiers sleeping around with one another, and (later) only homosexual relationships being "normal" whereas heterosexuality was regarded as perverse and unnatural. This, of course, was a nice twist on how people regarded (and still regard) homosexuality in real life and served as quite the stark mirror the author was holding up, showing how ridiculous the concept of either being "unnatural" or "perverse" really is. So the story begins with the MC, William Mandella, getting drafted as part of the very first group of soldiers to be propelled into space to fight the Taurans, an alien race scarcely anyone has ever seen (and lived to tell the tale). We learn about the way these humans hop through space helped by so-called stargates (yes, the geek in me cheered *lol*) and how much time passes for the people left back on Earth. After a number of campaigns, Mandella gets out and goes home - only to be even more alienated there. It's the classic story of what especially Vietnam soldiers must have felt like since they, too, left to protect the country and people they loved but came home to getting spat in the face and being called murderers. Here, it was not just the anti-war sentiments (that made no sense considering how strongly Earth's economy depended on the war effort) but also social structurs right down to the planet-wide currency having changed to calories. To say nothing of health care! (view spoiler)[That chapter about Mandella's mother dying because she wasn't important enough to warrant any medical assistance, particularly after what had happened to Mary-Gay's family on the farm, was heartbreaking, not least because it wouldn't have taken much (judging by her symptoms) to have saved her life! (hide spoiler)] I can say with absolute certainty that I didn't like this future Earth. It was depressing as all hell and if this is how soldiers back in the day felt after returning home, I know why so many killed themselves (and still do) and where PTSD comes from. Bloody hell! Many of the details show the age of the story. Such as the drug the soldiers kept using being pot since it was quite popular back in the day (and many opposed it strongly). However, the writing style did not in any way feel dated to me so I enjoyed Mandella going back and forth, zipping through the galaxy, fighting, resenting the war, despairing when he gets out, being puzzled and even bullied for his being different because of his age (timey wimey stuff). But the author also explores the aliens and futuristic technology with us. Naturally, always from the human point of view, but it was a nice examination of anything "different" and "foreign". Not to mention food, the planet having to support a certain amount of people (it was actually cute seeing the author's estimation compared to today's actual numbers - another thing showing the age of the book and our tragic current state of affairs). Particularly interesting was to see how humanity scrambled to build a defense. It's weird not to really know the enemy and it was fascinating to witness them trying to anticipate the enemy's next move and - more importantly - the enemy's evolution in technology and tactics since there are so many centuries between encounters due to time dilation. And there was a cat! One thing that hasn't (really) changed through space and time. *lol* I must honestly say that I certainly hadn't seen that ending coming! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Neither (view spoiler)[the clones, nor the colony worlds where natural reproduction is still tradition - just in case the "enemy's" cloning thing isn't as good as advertised - and thus is heterosexuality (hide spoiler)] but it was cool in a way that they kept (view spoiler)[the stargates open until the last veterans returned instead of stranding them in outer space (hide spoiler)] . What was not as much of a surprise was that (view spoiler)[the war was due to false pretenses, continued due to a lack of communication (both sides thinking the other had first started and then continued the fighting) (hide spoiler)] . I mentioned before the heartbreak over (view spoiler)[Mandella's mother (hide spoiler)] . Which means that I teared up all the more in the end when (view spoiler)[he received that message from Middle-Finger from Mary-Gay who had done so much to be old/young enough to be with William after all (hide spoiler)] . Who knew this would be a perfect book for romance week! *lol*

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    Another notch in my journey to revisit the classics of SF I read as a youth. I think I was a sophomore in high school when I first read this one; now, as then, I preferred it to that other classic of MilSF - Starship Troopers. I suppose it is a preference, with fiction, for story and character over political philosophy lectures, particularly when the lectures are tendentious and self serving. In The Forever War, Haldeman's protagonist and narrator William Mandela is a soldier who fights a thousa Another notch in my journey to revisit the classics of SF I read as a youth. I think I was a sophomore in high school when I first read this one; now, as then, I preferred it to that other classic of MilSF - Starship Troopers. I suppose it is a preference, with fiction, for story and character over political philosophy lectures, particularly when the lectures are tendentious and self serving. In The Forever War, Haldeman's protagonist and narrator William Mandela is a soldier who fights a thousand year war in the space of a few of his own years due to the time dilation effects of space travel, and has to withstand a massive culture shock and catch up on huge technological advancements every time he arrives at a new destination in the war. And even after a thousand years neither Earth nor the alien Taurans they are fighting know what the war is even about. No need for lectures here: Haldeman lets the absurdity of the circumstances speak for itself. The middle section of the novel, in which Mandela and his lover Marygay Potter return to an Earth they barely recognize after completing their first term of service, is the weakest. Such an extreme depiction of near future civil upheaval is always going to date badly, but even with that in mind, I think Haldeman's view of the social sciences is a bit behind his own time. This is a not uncommon failing of hard SF writers, then and now, stemming from a drive to generate the worst case scenario when weighing the future against the struggles of the present. When his characters are mired in the rigors of war and military life, however, this novel earns its reputation as a classic - especially in the imaginative leaps Haldeman makes with each jump to the future.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rick Riordan

    The main character William Mandella is among the first recruits sent off to fight an alien species. The only problem? The distances are so vast that every faster-than-light jump means decades have passed back on earth. With each campaign that Mandella fights, his home planet changes until it is almost unrecognizable. As many readers have noted, Haldeman's book is first and foremost a great novel of war and its effects on society. You can tell it was written at the close of Vietnam, as it speaks The main character William Mandella is among the first recruits sent off to fight an alien species. The only problem? The distances are so vast that every faster-than-light jump means decades have passed back on earth. With each campaign that Mandella fights, his home planet changes until it is almost unrecognizable. As many readers have noted, Haldeman's book is first and foremost a great novel of war and its effects on society. You can tell it was written at the close of Vietnam, as it speaks to the soldier's dilemma coming home from a divisive conflict. Some elements of the novel haven't aged as well as others. The idea, for instance, that sexual orientation can be determined by social conditioning is dated and comes across as a bit of a paranoid fantasy. But for the most part, the novel addresses timeless themes -- isolation, alienation, patriotism versus skepticism, and the possibility of love in a violent, unforgiving world. The ending is haunting, and I found myself thinking about this novel for weeks after reading it.

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