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Forever Free by Joe Haldeman
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Forever Free (1999)

by Joe Haldeman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Forever War (2)

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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed Forever Free, a direct sequel to The Forever War, with many of the same characters -- up to a point. I liked the set-up, although it was slow, because it rang true for the characters and promised more adventures to come. It was obvious that it was going to go wrong, of course, but that was going to be the interesting part.

And at first, it definitely was. I was intrigued by what scientific explanations Haldeman would come up with, and vaguely thought I remembered reading about the ruins of an older civilisation on some of the planets mentioned in The Forever War, and wondered if it was anything to do with that... There were hints from the Taurans about going into the unknown, okay, so maybe there is some clue somewhere as to what happened...

And then things went weird. Suddenly a new set of aliens showed up, but they had nothing really to do with it and were just an exposition device. And then -- pop! Another alien shows up, and shit gets philosophical.

It didn't hang together, for me. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
A few remaining true humans, veterans of the Forever War, live along with their offspring on the planet of Middle Finger near a collapsar called Mizar. Most of humanity has become Man, a hive mind similar to that of the Taurans, their former enemies. The inhabitants of Middle Finger live in a kind of sufferance, their activities monitored by a Man sheriff and a Tauran. As in The Forever War, relativistic effects are important in this universe. Radio messages from or to Earth take 80 years to arrive but faster messaging and travel can be achieved via a collapsar jump.

Tired of their existence, a few inhabitants of Middle Finger plot to take a spaceship on a forty thousand year trip round the galaxy. The Tauran and Man hive minds refuse permission but they steal the ship anyway. While only a few months out weird things start to happen.

At this point we seemed to lurch into a different book entirely. The tone may not have altered much but the background did. Forced to turn back to Middle Finger our adventurers find the population there and on Earth has disappeared. They use the collapsar to return to Earth to find out what's happened.

Even before this story shift the characters were far from convincing, being almost indistinguishable one from the other. After it the narrative failed to suspend disbelief and in the denouement, two dei ex machina popped up in quick succession as Haldeman off-handedly pulled the rug from under the scenario underpinning his Forever War/Peace setting - not to mention all of human history.

While Haldeman's The Forever War was an important milestone in the history of SF Forever Free most certainly isn't - unsurorising given that it's a 25 year later (second) sequel. It's not tripe nor exceptionally badly written but neither is it a good example of the satisfactions that the genre can deliver. ( )
2 vote jackdeighton | Dec 28, 2011 |
It's been twenty-some years since the last survivors of the Forever War set up home on Middle Finger which serves as sort of a genetic preserve run by the smug and superior clone groupmind known as Man. William Mandella, wife Marygay, and many of the other old veterans are getting tired of their relatively primitive life on that planet. And they find Man disconcertingly alien and fear that the clones will someday decide to rid themselves of their inferiors. They hatch a plan to fly a starship fast enough to take advantage of relativistic effects and return to Middle Finger 40,000 years in its future. A future where they hope Man will be absent or have evolved to the point of leaving them alone.

Tauran representatives and Man put obstacles in their way, but old human cunning wins out, and they embark for the future. But things are just getting under way when very odd things began to happen. Antimatter begins inexplicably disappearing from their ship. And even odder things have happened to the people back on Middle Finger and Earth . . .

Haldeman can't be faulted for not wanting to make this sequel to The Forever War> a war story. Instead, he gives us a mystery story. Unfortunately, the novel is unbalanced by the payoff he gives us at the end. It's too glib, too metaphysical to justify the length of the story before it nor is the idea that new. On the other hand, Haldeman could have explored the consequences of his solution more fully which would have lead to a better and longer novel.

The novel opens with a poem about men assuming the powers of gods to bring about peace. Haldeman doesn't really develop that theme much or make any coherent thematic statements about war and violence and freedom as I hoped he would.
( )
1 vote RandyStafford | Nov 6, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joe Haldemanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jensen, BruceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0441007872, Mass Market Paperback)

You can't lose for winning--especially, it would seem, if you're Joe Haldeman. Suffering the same fate as many an author who's dared to pen unconventional sequels to a ferociously loved book (in this case, The Forever War), Haldeman has risked the ire of his many devoted admirers a second time (the first sequel was the award-spangled Forever Peace). But Haldeman's call--not too surprisingly--proves to be a deft one, giving us a book that, while significantly different from its predecessor, turns out to be equally captivating and sensitive, in many ways even more thought-provoking. (Sure, it doesn't match The Forever War for sheer impact, but then again, what does?)

As in The Forever War, the heart of this story is the dry, ironic bite of fighting-suit vet William Mandella, now middle-aged and a parent (along with his love and comrade-in-arms Marygay) to two teen-aged kids. The family leads a spartan life on the cold and desolate planet Middle Finger, which serves as a sort of genetic safe-deposit box for the current incarnation of humanity, an inhuman race of group-mind clones known as Man. But the animals in the zoo are getting restless, and a core group of vets led by William and Marygay plot an unusual escape: hijacking a reconditioned time ship and using it to take a 40,000 light-year tour (over 10 years of their own time) to rejoin the world they know only after 2,000 generations have passed. Much of the action involves the hatching and fruition of this plot, but Haldeman doesn't really mix things up until nearing the end, when he dissolves physics as we know it and calls down the wrath of God itself. --Paul Hughes

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:47 -0400)

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Space travellers return to their planet after a long absence and find everyone gone. The intriguing aspect is the amount of clothing lying everywhere, as if people undressed before vanishing. The travellers head for Earth and find the same happened there.… (more)

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