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The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
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The Forever War (1974)

by Joe Haldeman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Forever War (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,351193805 (4.02)2 / 300
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)
Recently added byprivate library, kriselib, Ygraine, adrienne, rena75
  1. 204
    Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein (infiniteletters, goodiegoodie)
  2. 80
    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. 10
    Armor by John Steakley (amysisson, RASinfo)
    RASinfo: Perfect read for the story and ideas of the same theme.
  4. 10
    The Ethos Effect by Jr. L. E. Modesitt (thejazzmonger)
    thejazzmonger: Good characters and a story with intelligence and action. It makes you think, like every Haldeman book does.
  5. 00
    A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. (sturlington)
  6. 22
    Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman (sturlington)
    sturlington: Forever Peace is a thematic sequel to The Forever War.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 (185)  Italian (2)  German (2)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (191)
Showing 1-5 of 185 (next | show all)
This was so-so, in that it flowed well enough but wasn't at any point revelationary for me. I felt that everything interesting in this novel is available in stories I can better appreciate. Reading FOREVER WAR didn't result in the emotional impact of Heinlein's STARSHIP TROOPERS, OSC's THE WORTHING SAGA, or any decent Romance novel. Ben Bova and Hal Clement wrote more engaging scientific conflicts in every one of their stories I've read. Well after reading, I struggle to tell this book apart from John Scalzi's OLD MAN'S WAR, as I might've picked out some of the more memorable parts of Scalzi's WAR to fill in the most boring parts of Haldeman's WAR (inadvertedly bumping up my rating here).

What I remember most clearly is the limited ways gender/sex and sexuality were handled, as if everyone is highly sexual and on a binary. Entire worlds are segregated based on sexual orientation: either heterosexual or homosexual. That makes no sense. In evolutuinary terms, same-sex partners are beneficial for predominantly heterosexual family groups, not only to limit reproduction but to enforce a support structure. Sure, that wasn't common knowledge at the time Haldeman wrote his book, but it's an awkward omission today. And what about gay people who want to raise children? More apparent and more horrifying in the worlds Haldeman described is what sexual and gender minorities would likely face on being on the wrong planet. We think growing up closeted in a small city is tough. Imagine if the entire world believes your existence is wrong! The ending left me with a bad feeling toward the main characters, who I felt were off to start a colony as bigoted as any in an OSC series. ( )
  aspirit | Dec 21, 2019 |
I was discussing this book yesterday with a co-worker who had taken a writing course with Haldeman (I was envious!). I'm cautiously giving this a 5 star review because I haven't read it since it first came out in the 1970s ... but I remember what a hammer-blow the book was for many sf readers then (me included), and how much I loved it: it's flat-out, unsentimental, brutal ... and there are things in it I remember vividly to this day. ( )
  tungsten_peerts | Dec 14, 2019 |
Wow! To think this book was written in the 70’s! The description was wonderful; I could practically “see” the story. Not sure how anyone could make physics sound interesting. I’m going to reread just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. The ending was a great closure with a twist. ( )
  RoxieT | Nov 9, 2019 |
How to even begin evaluating something like this? Something that an evaluation now would seem to have so little in common with all that brought it to my attention in the first place: it’s legacy, it’s age, it’s allegory, it’s unavoidable anachronism, and it’s genre (military sci-fi). All of these things, in my own present reading and evaluative condition, do little to naturally predispose me towards liking it. And at the same time, all of these things likewise shield the book from whatever pittance of a critique I might lay against it. Yes, it’s characterization is insanely thin and Mandella gets next to nothing in the way of interior differentiation [save from the intermittent recognition that he’s kind of a pacifist, often scared, distrustful of authority, and loose on the whole idea in the first place], but what does that matter given the way these things were characterized in the 1970s. Yes, nothing about the society that would embark upon the “forever war” in the first place [not so much the idea of an endless war waged by dually unthinking and/or scheming military-industrial dullards running, but the way the society set up around it might work (not to mention a draft (?) of the most elite in the world?? and in 1997?? and the fixation on sexuality bespeaks so much the 1970s, no matter the half-wokeness of the take for the period, even though it’s interspersed with imagining the gay men to be half-mincing, makeup-wearing feminized soldiers)] resembles the way such a thing would play out, but what does that matter in light of the allegorical ends to which that society was put. And yes, that allegory runs a little roughshod over the narrative arc of the work as a whole, from the clear-case allusions to Vietnam and its era [“we’re” the invaders; returning home to a changed world (sex and society changed, although he in no way “earns” the chaos that he describes upon the return; we have little reason to understand this rapid devolution into anarchy); not being appreciated; finding war more appealing / understandable than peacetime; the whole thing ultimately ending with a whimper], but who am I to call this sloppy in light of its place as a work doing such a thing for the first time. Yes yes yes, most of all, the fight scenes were largely interminable, the endless tech-fixation like a dull drill boring into my reading mind, and the succession of battles totally devoid of momentum and stakes, but what does that matter when I’m not one who could even care about or tell good from banal military sci-fi from each other. And who am I to say anything when there were, by 125 pages in, enough things to continually pull me in, albeit very slowly and very against my will at that point: from the massive time jumps, to the description of the convalescence world, and even to the hectic ways in which relations to homosexuality careened back and forth between timesocieties and their relative positions in time. Nonetheless, I’m left with what left me the coldest: the prose. It’s a dead book, it dies in your hands as you read. Its prose pushes you away from the world it’s so earnestly trying to build, it begs you to lose interest in the very thing it’s telling you is worth it. ( )
  Ebenmaessiger | Oct 10, 2019 |
A formative childhood science-fiction book for me, still fun reading in my 30's. ( )
  sarcher | Jul 7, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 185 (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
Vrana, MichelCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Dedication
For Ben and, always, for Gay
First words
"Tonight we're going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man."
Quotations
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

(amweb)

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