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The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

The Forever War (original 1974; edition 2009)

by Joe Haldeman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,510165588 (4.05)2 / 262
Title:The Forever War
Authors:Joe Haldeman
Info:St. Martin's Griffin (2009), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 264 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (1974)

  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 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 (158)  Italian (2)  German (2)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (1)  All (164)
Showing 1-5 of 158 (next | show all)
Pending review. Actually finished this 5Nov2016.

That ending! Win!

Read as part of Peace and War Omnibus (#1-#3) - still ongoing (#2 & #3) as of 2Feb2017. ( )
  kephradyx | Jun 20, 2017 |
Great ( )
  mmishler | Apr 11, 2017 |
Very good military sci-fi. Well written, but violent and fatalistic, so if you don't like that sort of thing, stay away. It felt like the writer understood war (and sure enough, he is a Vietnam vet). The cover has a number of very flattering quotes from well known writers. I think I might have liked it even more if they had not raised my expectations so high - but then again, the quotes were what got me interested in the first place.

Update August 2016. I forgot I read this book checked it out again and started reading. Something seemed fishy but it took me awhile to figure out what had happened. Anyway, it was still pretty good the second time through. There was a little bit of weirdness about gender orientation but it did not bother me too much. ( )
1 vote nngrey | Jan 13, 2017 |
In 1972 Joe Haldeman wrote The Forever War, a futuristic war that seems to me to be a criticism of the Vietnam War. And yet it is timely!

Mandala gets conscripted into the army and thus is thrust into an interstellar war against the Taurans, so called because the enemy's planet is near the Taurus constellation. As we travel with Mandalla, we see him going through military training and though the names are changed and the strange new weapons and battle suits are different, criticisms of army generals, commanders and the illogic of the military bureaucracy is very evident.

When we find that the reasoning for getting into the war was a flimsy one and has lasted a thousand years, the mind draws to not only the Vietnam conflict, but the more current (historically speaking) Iraq conflict.

Another strong theme is that of social changes that become so hard to understand and live with that the soldier ends up re-enlisting. I'm sure when the boys returned from Vietnam or even Iraq, they were having a hard time adjusting to the new changes in society.

In the book's fictional society, people are required to have bodyguards and arm themselves whenever they go outside. At any moment you may be jumped on and robbed! The security guard industry is booming. Raids are carried out by bad guys even on farms and smaller, unprotected villages. Time for Mandalla to leave!

The time dilation effect in zooming up to stars that have special properties makes a year or two change subjective time into hundreds of years go by to the imaginary viewer on Earth. Thus Mandalla has spent a 1000 year tour of duty fighting the Taurans.

Another theme is sexual attitudes. The army has changing partners, you can sleep with anyone you want to let off some steam. Even then, the pairing of people is fairly rare yet Mandalla finds solace in Marygay, a woman solider that he follows around and develops feelings for.

Much too is made of homosexuality on Earth. The society has changed so much that homosexuality is used as a birth control device! Heterosexuality is looked on as an aberration where people prefer homosexuality. Thus the Earth's former 9 billion becomes a stable 1 billion after some centuries.

The battle scenes are pure fiction, yet the space adventures on Charon (an ice planet outside Pluto's orbit) and another battlefield outside of the Milky Way galaxy, brings us much in terms of interpersonal relations, Mandalla's struggle with most of his crew hating him and other pressures of military life that are still true today.

The book is an easy read, provocative at times and makes for some great adventure.


( )
1 vote James_Mourgos | Dec 22, 2016 |
One of the classics of military sci-fi. It doesn't disappoint. ( )
  oswallt | Nov 25, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 158 (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 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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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)

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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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