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The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

The Forever War (original 1974; edition 2009)

by Joe Haldeman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,835136724 (4.05)2 / 221
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. 164
    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 (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. 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 (131)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (1)  German (1)  All languages (136)
Showing 1-5 of 131 (next | show all)
At the start of the novel, William Mandella is a private being trained to fight with the first wave in an intergalactic war. We never understand what it's all about, because Mandella doesn't. He just has to do what he is told and hope for the best. And for these soldiers, there won't be any happy endings.

The few survivors who make it through the first battle with the alien enemy. Are rewarded with a trip "home" only, thanks to time dilation and other science fictionany things, many years have gone by and earth isn't the place they remember. Haldeman paints a pretty ugly picture of Earth's future.

The novel follow Mandella through several campaigns and hundreds of years - while he remains relatively young and completely socially out of place. Given its origin in the early '70's, this novel is remarkably insightful. ( )
  sbecon | Jul 27, 2015 |
A light read about a future war fought over such long distances that relativity kicks in, and soldier age only a few years on a campaign, but come back to a much older Earth.

Captures beautifully what a large conflict looks like at grunt level, the futility of it all, the disregard of human and alien lives, the indifference to any human values.

War sucks, but is part of the human constitution. ( )
  meekGee | Jul 6, 2015 |
I think that the only reason this book ever won a single award was because it spoke to the mood of post Vietnam America.

it is poorly written with no character developement and silly notions. Women being forced to have sex with multiple men, men becoming homosexual as a form of birth control, the collective species that 'man' becomes...

I believe that the only reason this has high ratings today is people are either intimidated or hyped by the awards on the cover. I looked at a few of the other low star reviews and found in a few cases at least people felt the need to apologize for giving a multiple award winning book a low star review. ( )
  Iceform | May 31, 2015 |
The Forever War is space opera that takes the Theory of Relativity seriously. In short, you can't travel at near-light speeds and jump through wormholes without doing crazy things to the time continuum. The dilemmas this poses are many: if you're fighting a war, you may suddenly find that your enemies have suddenly made great advances in technology because they are actually meeting you from your future (by the same token, you may meet your enemies when they are decades behind you in your past); when friends take off on different starships, you may find yourself aging at different rates; and when you return home, it may be to a place you no longer recognize because it is hundreds of years more advanced than you are.

Whew! Haldeman illustrates these complications quite well in the course of his narrative. He also knows how to keep you turning pages, as his climactic battle is brilliantly related.

There is one element to the story that is jarring to a 21st century reader: his handling of homosexuality. The issue enters the story because Haldeman poses it as the solution to Earth's future overpopulation--people are genetically engineered to cease from breeding by being made homosexual. Certainly, when the Earth becomes concerned with overpopulation, it's likely to pursue other options (why bioengineer them to be homosexual? why not asexual? not to mention myriad other birth control options . . .).

Yet given the fact the novel was originally written in 1974, Haldeman's attitude toward homosexuality could be thought progressive for its time. After all, implicit in his approach is the notion that homosexuality is genuinely an orientation and not a choice, which probably was not the prevalent view in the early 70s.
( )
  kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
Yes, but Kindle. And I don't think I'll enjoy it.
  Xleptodactylous | Apr 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 131 (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 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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