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Rating from TwistedSciFi
I love reading Science Fiction! As a reader and reviewer, I’m always interested in devouring the newest Science Fiction releases.
Sometimes, however, I hear so much buzz about a Science Fiction classic, that I’ve got to bump it to the top of my reading list; this was the case with Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War.
I owe my friends at SF Signal podcast a debt of gratitude for having Joe Haldeman as part of their Military Science Fiction Panel; this is where I first learned about the author and book.
As a Vietnam War veteran, Haldeman looks at the intersection of war, politics and society. What are the costs (financial and otherwise) of a sustained war? What’s society’s perception of the war and the soldiers risking their lives for the cause? What’s it like for soldiers when they return home? What was the basis for going to war in the first place?
With foreign troop involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, these issues are just as relevant today as they were when the book was first published in 1974.
Don’t be confused by The Forever War’s classification as Military Science Fiction; this is not an account of Haldeman’s time in Vietnam rewritten in outer space. Sure there are battle scenes and a military backdrop, but The Forever War is so multifaceted that it’s unfair to pigeon-hole it into a single genre. Even if Military Science Fiction isn’t your thing, you’ll still get a lot out of this book.
I really enjoy the way that Haldeman’s possible future tackles certain critical issues. How will unchecked population growth strike a balance with limited resources? How can technology and psychology be employed to motivate soldiers in battle?
Haldeman’s future is dystopian, but it’s almost so extreme in certain instances that I found myself laughing out loud while reading. This technique of presenting extremes forces us to ask the question, “How far are we willing to go to win a war?” Intentional or not, I was able to uncover an undercurrent of dark humor that permeated throughout the book.
Perhaps the most fascinating element of the story is how Haldeman addresses the time compression that results from travelling at or near the speed of light. This book is nothing at all like any other stories or books that I’ve read involving time travel. I’m not a scientist, but his approach to this topic certainly seems more scientific, and as a result, more believable than others.
This book is a true Science Fiction classic; it lived up to the lofty expectations that I had. Any true Science Fiction fan should consider this mandatory reading.
Of course The Forever War is available at Amazon and all major retailers, but before you run out and get yourself a copy, check you public library’s catalogue. I was able to locate a copy at my local public library and read it for free.
Have you read The Forever War or any of Joe Haldeman’s other books? Please share your comments below, and don’t forget to click on the yellow stars at the top of this post to share your rating (1-5 stars) of The Forever War.