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The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

The Forever War (original 1974; edition 1974)

by Joe Haldeman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,264157641 (4.05)2 / 243
Title:The Forever War
Authors:Joe Haldeman
Info:Ridan (2011), E-book
Collections:Your library
Tags:Classics - SFF, 1970s, Forever War, Kindle ebook, read in 2012

Work details

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (1974)

  1. 174
    Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein (infiniteletters, goodiegoodie)
  2. 60
    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. 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 (150)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (1)  German (1)  All languages (155)
Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)
In all honesty I didn't finish it. That's not to say its a terrible book, I just lost interest half way through and completely stopped enjoying it and couldn't bring myself to finish it - that is the reason for the 2 stars. Maybe I didn't give it enough of a try, there is a slim possibility that I will go back to it in the future. but for now it found it uninteresting and uninspiring. ( )
  grlewry | Sep 22, 2016 |

What was most fascinating for me about this classic was how fascinated I was by it.

This is straight-up hard sci-fi, no bones about it. Yes, it's also military sci-fi, and that's important in how it relates to other military sci-fi that came before and after, but at its core it is written by someone steeped in science. Because of how it's told, we feel a huge amount of empathy with the grunts, even when those grunts move up the chain of command. That was fascinating to me, because it's hard to write sci-fi (or anything) from the perspective of the "nobody" when that nobody keeps gaining more power.

There are some strange references to homosexuality for about half the book, and then it gets serious about describing the difference between homosexuality and heterosexuality in the future. At first, I was a little horrified at how dated the book was feeling, and then I was bemused, and then I was fascinated. While it absolutely, definitely, no question is written by a heterosexual, it tries, in unexpected ways, to be open to differences in sexual orientation.

And lastly, it was fascinating because I was happy about the ending. Why should I be happy about this ending? It's a surprising way to finish a novel with a bummer of a denouement. It makes it seem as if we should be pleased about the handful of folks who've survived the entire plot. I think Haldeman knew that the readers fully understood the horrific nature of the plot, and that it wasn't worth drilling that home any more than needed. In the end, at least someone gets what they've deserved, and that's worth celebrating. ( )
  khage | Jul 10, 2016 |
( )
  MarijaSabljic | Jun 28, 2016 |
The Forever War is the story of a scientist, Mandella, who is recruited to fight a war against the Taurans, an alien species nobody knows much about.

The soldiers travel through collapsars, something like gates to another part of the universe. But to reach the collapsars they have to travel at light speed. This has an important consequence: on Earth time is quicker than on the ship, so when the soldiers arrive back on Earth, some of their relatives and friends are already dead.

There are two main topics in this novel. The first one is how the war affects the soldiers while they are fighting and the second, how they find themselves in a society they no longer fit in once they return to Earth.

Mandella, the main character, starts as a young recruit. He is a completely normal person, like the readers. Suddenly he is in the middle of a war he can’t understand. He is a very realistic character. The reader learns of his fears, worries and wishes. And sees from his point of view how much the Earth has changed when he returns home and when the war ends.

The book shows how this character evolves. At first he is a rather innocent man who hates the people that give him orders and just wants to return home. Throughout the novel he changes, and at some point he is the one giving orders and facing tough decisions regarding the lives of the people he commands.

When he returns home, his younger brother is older than he is and he learns how much society has changed. At first he thinks he can adapt to these changes, but the more he learns, the more he hates what the world has become. At some point he even thinks he has nothing left there.

When he meets somebody who left home a couple hundred years after he did, Mandella learns that the Earth has changed even more. It is now completely unrecognizable.

The descriptions of the planets, weapons, battle suits and the battles are very detailed. This makes it possible to the reader to imagine everything easily, but they are not long enough to make the novel boring.

There is a negative part about this. While it doesn’t bother me, some people may not like all the sometimes very graphic explanations of how the soldiers die.

I enjoyed reading this book and couldn’t put it down, but I found two big negative aspects. One is the kind of words everybody uses. Nobody seems to be able to express themselves without curses. The other is the high amount of sex mentioned. While there aren’t any graphic descriptions of that, it looks like nobody can refrain from sleeping with everybody else. ( )
  Hellen0 | Jun 22, 2016 |
Deus Ex Machina somehow can't spoil this interstellar romp through time and space. ( )
  apomonis | Jun 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 150 (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
Dalton, BrendonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary 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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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)

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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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