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The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
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The Forever War (original 1974; edition 1991)

by Joe Haldeman (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,396250829 (4.02)2 / 354
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)
Member:Orlando_Mas
Title:The Forever War
Authors:Joe Haldeman (Author)
Info:Eos (1991), Edition: 3rd, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:None

Work Information

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (1974)

  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. 22
    Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman (sturlington)
    sturlington: Forever Peace is a thematic sequel to The Forever War.
  6. 11
    A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. (sturlington)
  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.
1970s (57)
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Group TopicMessagesLast Message 
 Science Fiction Fans: The Forever War? Ugh.113 unread / 113Tobbi73, August 2016
 Book talk: The Forever War by Joe Haldeman10 unread / 10jldarden, March 2013

» See also 354 mentions

English (243)  German (2)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (249)
Showing 1-5 of 243 (next | show all)
Very interesting book. Thought provoking. ( )
  Lewis.Noles | Mar 23, 2024 |
It was almost enjoyable... just... not quite. It was very narrative - the main character just described everything as if it were the, ah, author speaking. It's usually more enjoyable to read books where the characters are at least pretending to be fictional, and not just an author-cutout. That, and, there is some quasi-social foolishness about sexuality and an underlying misogyny. Women are there for a specific purpose and while the author writes it as if the sexes are equal, his females were just men described in text as women - I am fairly confident that women aren't going to be okay to be "assigned" mandatory sex partners on their downtime. ( )
  crazybatcow | Feb 25, 2024 |
Overall good with some interesting ideas, but I think I saw the book hyped too much before I read it. I expected more ... feels kinda rushed and as if more could have been made of the good ideas. Maybe the second and third book will enrich the story a bit... ( )
  rendier | Jan 25, 2024 |
Drawing on his own experiences in Vietnam war, author gives a very good picture of how getting enlisted for a long war with the enemy nobody understands gets that person estranged from his homeland and people he lived with. How time mercilessly goes by and soon that same soldier, drafted by his government gets back to his homeland to find it completely changed and incomprehensible. He cannot manage to handle that level of change and becomes for all means and purposes unfit for civilian life.

All of the above happens to our main character. Enlisted to fight the war against the alien race mere distances that his unit needs to cover in near-to-light-speed ships means that what seems like years to him subjectively on Earth it becomes decades and then centuries.

Very soon society as he knows it does not exist any more and his ability to function in new environments decrease - his fellow men and civilization in general become more and more exotic very much like distant aliens and space battlegrounds he fought them on.
So he returns back to the fray because people in the military still resemble what he remembers (at least some of them) and in case of any differences they still share the same goal - to survive in the brutal war - and on the battlefield this is the link that bonds the people. Through all that time our hero tries to avoid bloodshed as much as possible and finally sees the light at the end of the long, long tunnel.

Excellent book about trying to keep ones sanity in the war and estrangement between society and those that very same society sent out to fight for it to the point that these others are no longer even considered normal parts of the society.

Highly recommended to all SF fans. ( )
  Zare | Jan 23, 2024 |
Expected more from a Nebula and Hugo award winner. However, annual awards do HAVE to be given out every year, so who knows what to expect.
Haldeman's style is fine, not proper prose, but just nice enough. The story was the problem: It never went anywhere. It is also a lot like Starship Troopers, like that combined with space travel time and aging in OS Card's Ender series. The Forever War differs from Heinlein's version in that the war keeps continuing. That might have some meaning, but it is not a pleasant read. ( )
  MXMLLN | Jan 12, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 243 (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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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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

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Book description
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Time dilation

Interstellar war is hell

Vietnam in space

(amweb)

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