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The Forever War (1974)

by Joe Haldeman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Forever War (1), Der ewige Krieg (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,284220794 (4.03)2 / 328
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)
  1. 214
    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 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. 11
    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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» See also 328 mentions

English (213)  Italian (2)  German (2)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (219)
Showing 1-5 of 213 (next | show all)
I can't believe that I missed reading this book for so long. I've had the paperback forever and finally just finished the eBook. Interesting fact I just found out, Joe's wife is Mary Gay Potter and they will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary this week at Worldcon. I wish them as long a life as "Mandella" and "Gay" and hope that it is considerably happier. I really loved this book and plan on picking up the sequels and they won't sit around unread for long. ( )
  kevn57 | Dec 8, 2021 |
Read when I was in High School. I still think about even to this day (25 years later) ( )
  KrakenTamer | Oct 23, 2021 |
Good, well written, intelligent science fiction, albeit with paper-thin characters and little actual human emotion. Written by a Vietnam vet in 1974, it is a thinly veiled satire on Vietnam, and war in general. ( )
  usuallee | Oct 7, 2021 |
With the anniversary of D-Day being just a few days ago, this was timely reading. Joe Haldeman’s book, “The Forever War” is engaging, well-written, and meaningful, originally published in 1974. It was a Hugo and Nebula winner. I read an edition published in 2010 which Haldeman identified as the ‘definitive edition’. I read the first edition back in college in the mid-eighties. While I remember greatly enjoying the book in college, this re-read was much more impactful. I don’t know if that is due to my naivety back then, or the changes in editions.

The story is written in first-person from the perspective of Private William Mandella. Haldeman effectively pulls from his personal experiences from Viet Nam. He tells a very readable story and successfully conveys several themes:
- Solders in wartime, often return disconnected from their personal relationships and have challenges in reconnecting with family and friends.
- Solders are also often faced with ‘culture shock’, losing touch with changes in society and face difficulty integrating into everyday life after living through war’s horrors.
- Countries and economies can become dependant on war, limiting incentives to find peaceful solution.
- War can escalate, losing touch with its original objectives. Certainly, for many solders, after being caught up in a life and death struggle and attempting to protect and save their fellow soldiers, are often left with a void, when considering, “what was it all for?”

Haldeman uses science fiction including time dilation to magnify these themes. He also creatively tells of some drastic culture shifts which the MC faces when returning from duty. This book is a masterpiece, both as a straight-up science fiction story, but also as an allegory for the horrors and hopelessness of war. ( )
  Kevin_A_Kuhn | Aug 23, 2021 |
The last chapter just seals the deal, comes from left field and makes your heart drop. That book was more impacting than I expected it to be even ten pages before the end. Nausea and then this poignant heart stab. There are some reflections on the nature of leadership that are quite good and could be further teased out on a rainy day too, about the weird feeling of empathy and responsibility, the feeling of displacement or not belonging in the role and the need to also embrace it and be the bad guy sometimes. Basically, Forever War as good as everyone says it is.
  ahovde01 | Aug 13, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 213 (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 (35 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
Hamilton, Peter F.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reß-Bohusch, BirgitTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, AdamIntroductionsecondary 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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Original title
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Original publication date
People/Characters
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Important events
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Awards and honors
Locus ( [1976] | Novel | 1976)
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

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.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary
Time dilation

Interstellar war is hell

Vietnam in space

(amweb)

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Average: (4.03)
0.5
1 26
1.5 4
2 85
2.5 31
3 448
3.5 142
4 1061
4.5 138
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