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The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

The Forever War (1974)

by Joe Haldeman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Forever War (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,857177536 (4.04)2 / 283
  1. 174
    Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein (infiniteletters, goodiegoodie)
  2. 70
    Old Man's War by John Scalzi (JulesJones)
    JulesJones: Two books which examine in different ways what happens to the recruits in an interstellar war who by the very nature of their service can never go back to their home culture.
  3. 21
    Forever Peace (Remembering Tomorrow) by Joe Haldeman (sturlington)
    sturlington: Forever Peace is a thematic sequel to The Forever War.
  4. 10
    The Ethos Effect by L. E. Modesitt Jr. (thejazzmonger)
    thejazzmonger: Good characters and a story with intelligence and action. It makes you think, like every Haldeman book does.
  5. 00
    Armor by John Steakley (amysisson, RASinfo)
    RASinfo: Perfect read for the story and ideas of the same theme.
  6. 01
    The Healer's War by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: The Forever War was inspired by Haldemans experiences in Vietnam, Scarborough writes about her experiences in Vietnam directly.
  7. 14
    Dauntless by Jack Campbell (amysisson)
    amysisson: First in a series of thoughtful military SF with great FTL tactical details.

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English (170)  Italian (2)  German (2)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (1)  All (176)
Showing 1-5 of 170 (next | show all)
A quick read. I'm surprising myself a bit by remarking on this, but The Forever War just didn't create much of an emotional connection to its characters. Starship Troopers was a much more engaging read.

It was two stars, and then it killed the cat. Plus the whole reprogramming homosexuals to be heterosexuals thing (sexual reprogramming is bad enough on its own but this was coming full circle). And back to the subject of the cat: a male calico? Really?? Sigh. ( )
  natcontrary | May 21, 2018 |
A clear Vietnam allegory, The Forever war is one of the best science-fiction-and-war novels I've ever read. It both humanizes the character while reinforcing the central message that "war is hell". It plays around with science fiction themes of time dilation and "being lost in time", and does it well. A great quick read, and a wonderful book. I'll need to check out the rest of the series.

The forward to this edition is written by John Scalzi, who wrote another of my favorite sci-fi-and-war series, "Old Man's War". The two books are very similar, but The Forever war is more social commentary, and Old Man's War is more personal. Different styles, but both are well worth reading. ( )
  L_Will | May 14, 2018 |
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. ( )
  ssimon2000 | May 7, 2018 |
I'd expected better as this book is regarded as a classic, but I found it boring. War is hell, I already know that and don't need to be told over and over again.
The female characters were very cardboard (well, so were the men to be fair). I kept wondering when the women would realise they had been mentally conditioned to want sex all the time so as to keep the guys happy, but the writer seemed to miss that one. (It would have been very plausible in the context of the novel. ( )
  JudithProctor | Apr 24, 2018 |
The FOrever war is a classic scifi novel written in 1974 which details a thousand year space war between humans and a new species. It covers the ups and downs, romance and commentry on sexuality - the disillusionment at returning from war to a society the soldiers feel like they don't belong in. Being written by an ex-vietnam soldier you do wonder how much is fiction and how much is the writers own experience returning from war.

Overall, it's a compelling work, if you weren't aware it was written in the 1970s it would be hard to pick what year its from as its as current today as it was then. ( )
  HenriMoreaux | Apr 21, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 170 (next | show all)
I got to re-reading it last night (for the first time in nearly 20 years) and couldn't put it down.
added by lampbane | editBoing Boing, Cory Doctorow (Mar 30, 2003)

» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joe Haldemanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Adams, MarcCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Craig, IanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dalton, BrendonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reß-Bohusch, BirgitTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scalzi, JohnForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Targete, Jean PierreCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tikulin, TomislavCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tinkleman, MurrayCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vallejo, DorianCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For Ben and, always, for Gay
First words
"Tonight we're going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man."
Relativity propped it up, at least gave it the illusion of being there...the way all reality becomes illusory and observer-oriented when you study general relativity. Or Buddhism. Or get drafted.
I feel asleep and dreamed that I was a machine, mimicking the functions of life, creaking and clanking my clumsy way through a world, people too polite to say anything but giggling behind my back, and the little man who sat inside my head pulling the levers and clutches and watching the dials, he was hopelessly mad and storing up hurts for the day--
"One cannot make command decisions simply by assessing the tactical situation and going ahead with whatever course of action will do the most harm to the enemy with a minimum of death and damage to your own men and materiel. Modern warfare has become very complex, especially during the last century. Wars are won not by a simple series of battles won, but by a complex interrelationship among military victory, economic pressures, logistic maneuvering, access to the enemy's information, political postures--dozens, literally dozens of factors."
The most important fact about the war to most people was that if it ended suddenly, Earth's economy would collapse.
Heaven was a lovely, unspoiled Earth-like world; what Earth might have been if men had treated her with compassion instead of lust.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Haiku summary
Time dilation

Interstellar war is hell

Vietnam in space


Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312536631, Paperback)

In the 1970s Joe Haldeman approached more than a dozen different publishers before he finally found one interested in The Forever War. The book went on to win both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, although a large chunk of the story had been cut out before it saw publication. Now Haldeman and Avon Books have released the definitive version of The Forever War, published for the first time as Haldeman originally intended. The book tells the timeless story of war, in this case a conflict between humanity and the alien Taurans. Humans first bumped heads with the Taurans when we began using collapsars to travel the stars. Although the collapsars provide nearly instantaneous travel across vast distances, the relativistic speeds associated with the process means that time passes slower for those aboard ship. For William Mandella, a physics student drafted as a soldier, that means more than 27 years will have passed between his first encounter with the Taurans and his homecoming, though he himself will have aged only a year. When Mandella finds that he can't adjust to Earth after being gone so long from home, he reenlists, only to find himself shuttled endlessly from battle to battle as the centuries pass. --Craig E. Engler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:37 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

The Earth's leaders have drawn a line in the interstellar sand, despite the fact that the fierce alien enemy they would oppose is inscrutable, unconquerable, and very far away.

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