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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)

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5,425119801 (4.06)1 / 197
aliens (45) classic (34) ebook (42) fiction (439) Hugo (40) Hugo Award (47) hugo winner (60) Kindle (28) military (102) military sf (90) Nebula (35) Nebula Award (42) nebula winner (41) novel (75) own (31) paperback (31) read (114) relativity (36) science fiction (1,229) sf (280) SF Masterworks (54) sff (79) space (27) space opera (27) space travel (29) time travel (40) to-read (96) unread (31) war (190) Zeitdilatation (31)
  1. 145
    Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein (infiniteletters, goodiegoodie)
  2. 50
    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 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. 13
    Dauntless by Jack Campbell (amysisson)
    amysisson: First in a series of thoughtful military SF with great FTL tactical details.

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English (115)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (119)
Showing 1-5 of 115 (next | show all)
I was supposed to have read this last year for my book group but since I was missing that month I skipped it. Well here comes book 2 in the series so I thought I better read the first one to see what I might need for better understanding.

The copy I read had a introduction by John Scalzi that was amusing and a bit enlightening about the feedback he got on Old Man's War. As much as this was a war book it was also a book on how Earth changes over the long periods of time that our hero is gone due to to interstellar travel. I will say that I did like the ending since it could have been much worse. ( )
  Glennis.LeBlanc | Jul 8, 2014 |
I feared this would be unremittingly grim but it was very readable. Realistic experience of warfare and uses the limitations of relativity very well in the plot. ( )
  jerhogan | Jul 7, 2014 |
Evidently a classic science fiction novel but I hadn't heard of it until I picked it up next week. It is classic military science fiction: following a recruit through tough basic training, the first battles in an interstellar war, all the way through the conclusion of that war.Thanks to Einstein's twin paradox writ large, he gets to experience brief vignettes of a war that lasts for thousands of years. It is as much allegorical as anything, the idea of platoon sized battles on planets spread throughout the galaxy is obviously implausible -- especially given the sophisticated computers that guide the battleships in the book.

Overall, the book feels slightly dated. The problem is more than the usual with a science fiction novel written thirty-five years ago that tries to envision the near future (in the future we'll all read our news on a fax!), it's more that the book is infused with the dated perspective of a particular moment in time, particularly the Club of Rome's belief in the inevitability of scarcity and the problems of overpopulation. Moreover, the fact that that novel describes a society that exploits a total mobilization for war undermines the idea that this is meant to be a Vietnam allegory.

That said, a lot of creative science fiction and interesting situations, the book has an intriguing feel, and I quite liked the love story -- although I recognize that is probably more a reflection of my weaknesses and the book's strengths. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
Originally posted at FanLit:

William Mandella, a genius studying physics, has been drafted into the elite division of the United Nations Exploratory Force, which is fighting a seemingly never-ending war with the Taurans. After strenuous training with other elites on the Earth and in space, William and his colleagues are sent on various missions throughout the universe, traveling through black holes to get to each warfront. During each mission some of William??s friends die, but thatƒ??s expected. Whatƒ??s surprising is that when he returns home, very little time has passed for him, but space-time relativity has caused many years to pass on Earth. Thus each time he comes back, heƒ??s shocked by the changes that have occurred ƒ?? changes in people he knows, changes in society, and technological advances which affect the progress of the war.

These changes are so drastic that Mandella, who was a reluctant soldier to begin with, would rather re-enlist ƒ?? which means almost certain death ƒ?? than live in a society he no longer relates to. He quickly moves up the ranks, but only because heƒ??s the only soldier who has managed to survive this long, though itƒ??s only been a few years of his own lifetime. The cultural changes on Earth have affected the military, too, and soon William, whoƒ??s so different from the people he leads, feels like an old man living in a young manƒ??s body.

As you can probably tell, Joe Haldemanƒ??s The Forever War is a military science fiction story thatƒ??s so much more than that. On the surface, itƒ??s got all the stuff youƒ??d expect from the sort of tense and exciting story where humans are fighting hordes of aliens, but on a deeper level, The Forever War is surprisingly emotional and thought-provoking. Joe Haldeman has called it ƒ??an sf treatment of what Iƒ??d seen and learned in Vietnam.ƒ? It deals with the expected themes ƒ?? the horrors of war, xenophobia, survivorƒ??s guilt, the disappointment of a tepid reception at home, the use of drugs and alcohol to cope and, especially in the case of Vietnam, the meaningless of it all. Haldemanƒ??s SF-spin cleverly uses the relativity problem to show us the plight of soldiers who come back to a culture they hardly recognize, who lose family members and lovers who die or move on while theyƒ??re gone, and who feel like theyƒ??ve lost their former place in society and have trouble settling down. Itƒ??s tragically beautiful with an ending that offers hope.

Joe Haldeman wrote The Forever War as his thesis for an MFA. It was serialized in Analog Magazine and published as a novel in 1974. The Forever War won the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, and the Locus Award. I read Recorded Booksƒ?? audio version, which was superbly narrated by George Wilson. ( )
1 vote Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
This is really good. Much better than I expected for a space opera novel in the seventies. It deserves all the accolades it got. Still extremely readable, extremely entertaining. It's like reading proto-Scalzi. The best thing about it is, like Halo, it delivers what it promises and doesn't add anything unnecessary. No stupid romances, no bureaucratic filler. It doesn't bore you with constant space battles, idle thinking, or meaningless conversations that go on too long. It gets the battles right, it makes the science entertaining and understandable. I feel smarter for reading this book.

One thing I wasn't sure about was the themes of sexuality. In the beginning, soldiers are expected (even required) to have sex with each other about every night (the army is now co-ed). As time goes on, the world's polarity swings away from natural breeding towards heterosexuality becoming the deviant behavior. I find this twist delightfully ironic, but does it really have a place in an allegory about war?

Maybe it's just me -- I've never been in a war -- but including this sort of thing seems extraneous. I don't get the associations of war or of evolution losing its sexual identity. It reminds me of when every future story thought we'd be taking our dinner in pill form by now. If anything, I think sexuality would end up becoming more extreme, more carnal. As mankind's brain reaches higher planes, the body will need to satisfy its natural instincts harder. That's why we have all this weird stuff today like furries, futanari, and porno that would make a sailor blush.

But that hardly ruins the book. I highly recommend this one. ( )
  theWallflower | Mar 26, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 115 (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 (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joe Haldemanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adams, MarcCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Craig, IanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scalzi, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Targete, Jean PierreCover 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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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:30 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Private William Mandella is a hero in spite of himself -- a reluctant conscript drafted into an elite military unit, and propelled through space and time to fight in a distant thousand-year conflict. He never wanted to go to war, but the leaders on Earth have drawn a line in the interstellar sand -- despite the fact that their fierce alien enemy is unknowable, unconquerable, and very far away. So Mandella will perform his duties without rancor and even rise up through the military's ranks . . . if he survives. But the true test of his mettle will come when he returns to Earth. Because of the time dilation caused by space travel the loyal soldier is aging months, while his home planet is aging centuries -- and the difference will prove the saying: you never can go home.… (more)

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