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The Forever War

Joe Haldeman

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Gollancz

Published : 2010

Copyright : Joe Haldeman 1974, 1975, 1997

ISBN-10 : PB 0-575-09414-1
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-575-09414-7

Publisher's Write-Up

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. A reluctant conscript drafted into an elite Military unit, Private William Mandella has been propelled through space and time to fight in the distant thousand-year conflict; to perform his duties and do whatever it takes to survive the ordeal and return home. But "home" may be even more terrifying than battle, because, thanks to the time dilation caused by space travel, Mandella is aging months while the Earth he left behind is aging centuries.

One of the very best must-read SF novels of all time.

'Military science fiction comes in many flavours, and Joe Haldeman's is every bit as satisfying as Heinlein's.'


'A book that's damn near perfect.'

Peter F. Hamilton
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Reader Reviews

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Review by David (300617) Rating (8/10)

Review by David
Rating 8/10
I really enjoyed this book – although I hadn’t realised initially that I had already read it, many, many years ago when the dates were still a possibility! The foreword did say that it was a slightly different version, so it wasn’t fully familiar.

For many of you [at the bookclub], this is an introduction to science fiction. It should be pointed out that there are entire spectra of SciFi, the most commonly referred to is the Hardness – How hard a work is depends much on the scientific realities/theories it is based on, and the detail which it goes into.

From TV Tropes:
Example: a character is shown a time machine and asks, "How does it work?"
In soft SF: "You sit in this seat, set the date you want, and pull that lever."
In hard SF: "A good question with an interesting answer. Please have a seat while I bring you up to speed on the latest ideas in quantum theory, after which I will spend a chapter detailing an elaborate, yet plausible-sounding connection between quantum states, the unified field theory, and the means by which the brain stores memory, all tied into theories from both Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking."

The Forever War falls to the harder side, but is still very accessible – it doesn’t go into great detail of how things work, but the science is sound – Time dilation effects as you approach the speed of light, and the behaviour of liquid helium are accurately used in the work, which adds to the suspension of disbelief.

I couldn’t really say that all of the speculation is accurate, although I’m fairly sure that the language we speak probably is very different to that of Shakespeare, which is only a few hundred years ago. How much the language will continue evolving given that the written word is more common, and education means that most people will have access to the same language, I could not comment. Although the suggestion that northern dialects will take over amused me!

Without the foreword, and the background of the author, I didn’t realise the connection with the Vietnam war, and the book makes a lot more sense in that context, considering the social changes around the 60’s – the rise in promiscuity and the more permissive society in general. I don’t know much about that time, as a child of the 70’s/80’s, but it seems to tally with what I have heard.

The only bits which I didn’t particularly enjoy were the “sexy” bits – Again, it gave some context with how society changed, but it never really worked for me. I probably skipped those bits as a kid, but that’s just me...
David (30th June 2018)

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