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The Forever War Paperback – February 17, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (February 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312536631
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312536633
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,286 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the 1970s Joe Haldeman approached more than a dozen different publishers before he finally found one interested in The Forever War. The book went on to win both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, although a large chunk of the story had been cut out before it saw publication. Now Haldeman and Avon Books have released the definitive version of The Forever War, published for the first time as Haldeman originally intended. The book tells the timeless story of war, in this case a conflict between humanity and the alien Taurans. Humans first bumped heads with the Taurans when we began using collapsars to travel the stars. Although the collapsars provide nearly instantaneous travel across vast distances, the relativistic speeds associated with the process means that time passes slower for those aboard ship. For William Mandella, a physics student drafted as a soldier, that means more than 27 years will have passed between his first encounter with the Taurans and his homecoming, though he himself will have aged only a year. When Mandella finds that he can't adjust to Earth after being gone so long from home, he reenlists, only to find himself shuttled endlessly from battle to battle as the centuries pass. --Craig E. Engler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"To say that The Forever War is the best science fiction war novel ever written is to damn it with faint praise. It is, for all its techno-extrapolative brilliance, as fine and woundingly genuine a war story as any I've read."
--William Gibson, author of Neuromancer, Spook Country

"There are a handful of moments when an American science fiction novel abruptly and seemingly effortlessly satisfied every possible expectation conveyed not only by the genre's ambitions, but of those of the whole literary landscape with which it was contemporary: Sturgeon's More Than Human, Dick's The Man In The High Castle, LeGuin's Dispossessed, Gibson's Neuromancer. The Forever War is one such book, and like those others still carries with it that air of recognition and possibility."
--Jonathan Lethem, author of Gun With Occcasional Music, Fortress of Solitude

"Perhaps the most important war novel written since Vietnam . .  . Haldeman, a veteran, is a flat-out visionary . . . and protagonist William Mandella's attempt to survive and remain human in the face of an absurd almost endless war is harrowing hilarious heartbreaking and true  . . . like all the best works of literature THE FOREVER WAR takes you apart and then, before you can turn that last page, puts you back together: better, wiser, more human.  Simply extraordinary."
--Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

"If there was a Fort Knox for Science Fiction writers, we'd have to lock Joe Haldeman up."
--Stephen King, author of The Shining, The Dead Zone, The Stand

"The Forever War is not just a great Science Fiction novel, it's a great Vietnam war novel - and a great war novel, without qualification- that is also Science Fiction.  A classic to grace either genre."
--Iain M. Banks, author of Use of Weapons, The Player of Games, Matter

"FOREVER WAR is brilliant--one of the most influential war novels of our time. That it happens to be set in the future only broadens and enhances its message."
--Greg Bear, author of Moving Mars, Eon, The Forge of God

“A parable whose lessons are needful learning once more.”
--John Scalzi, author of Old Man’s War, The Ghost Brigades, Zoe’s Tale

"I first read this twenty years ago and have never forgotten the wonder and fury it kindled at the time.  Anyone who talks about the glory of war has obviously never read it.  A beautifully detailed and intensely personal account of a conflict which lasts for over a thousand years, as told by one grunt who lives through it all.  Only a writer as skillfull and knowledgeable as Haldeman could use war's dark glamour to lure the reader in and then deplou the sam fascination to show just what kind of effect this orchestrated barbarism can have on the human soul."
--Peter F. Hamilton, author of Pandora’s Star, Judas Unchained, The Dreaming Void

“In a literature of ideas, The Forever War is a titan: a book filled with mind-bending ideas about relatavistic time-distortion and world-shaking ideas about the futility of war. In today's world, where we think declaring war on abstract nouns like TERROR is a winning strategy, we need THE FOREVER WAR."
--Cory Doctorow, author of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Little Brother X

“It is to the Vietnam War what Catch-22 was to World War II, the definitive, bleakly comic satire.”
--Thomas M. Disch, author of Camp Concentration, 334

"The Forever War does what the very best science fiction does. It deals with extremes both societal and teleological; it places a frame around humankind's place in the universe to show us what is outside the frame; and it functions simultaneously at the literal and metaphorical level.  Inarguably one of the genre's great novels, it is also among the finest novels ever written about war."
--James Sallis, author of The Long Legged Fly, Drive, Cripple Creek


More About the Author

Joe Haldeman has served twice as president of the Science Fiction Writers of America and is currently an adjunct professor teaching writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Customer Reviews

This is a fascinating book that is well written with a very interesting story line.
Gary92
The science and technology in this book is interesting, and the book deal with the time dilation effects of relativity as a basic premise.
Tim Jones
Some of the concepts just seemed a little too improbable for me, but mostly there wasn't much character development.
ozone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

253 of 260 people found the following review helpful By B.D. Milligan on January 4, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was somewhat taken aback by the style of this novel at first. After reading a few dozen pages, however, I could clearly see why this book is considered classic military science fiction. This is a fascinating contrast to Starship Troopers.
Haldeman's style is terse and effective, seasoned with a sly sense of humor throughout. The protagonist, William Mandella, is a likeable military everyman with whom a reader readily identifies. The battle scenes are particularly well done, allowing a reader to easily follow the action without the confusion that would plague a less skillful account.
The Forever War is notable for its exploration of the temporal effects of faster than light travel, i.e., Mandella's tours of duty last hundreds of years on earth, while for him, only a few years pass. Mandella goes forth to battle, having no idea what type of home will await him in the unlikely event that he survives. Eventually, Mandella is rendered a human anachronism, a veteran in command of troops he can barely understand.
The parallels with Vietnam were mostly lost on me, as I'm too young to relate, but the theme of coming home to a world one no longer recognizes is more than ably developed. Another theme that gets a lot of play is that of the unintended consequences of social engineering as Earth's society "evolves." Some of the changes to Earth that Mandella witnesses are disturbing, many are humorous, and the final chapter is extremely unusual and thought-provoking.
More than just a cold military fantasy, The Forever War has a surprising emotional impact as well. Best of all, Haldeman makes his points with subtlety and humor, not by nailing them into your skull. A terrific read that I would recommend to anyone without hesitation.
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166 of 175 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 15, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Forever War is one of my favorite books. I've read it at least ten times over the years. However, what you're getting here is NOT the version you probably remember. It's an unedited version. Now, I'm sure you're thinking "Great! I LOVE the book, so more of it can only be a good thing. Right?"

Wrong.

It's Haldeman's terse prose and direct writing style that make The Forever War a great novel. Without the discipline and restraint that previous editors imposed upon his work, Haldeman rambles on like your great-grandpa telling you about life during the Great Depression. There are at least two entire chapters devoted to describing how Earth's economy is now based on calories instead of dollars. And by the end of those two chapters, Haldeman himself seems to conclude that it's dumb, impractical idea that's not very interesting in the first place.

There are reasons that the original cuts were made. What was once tense, quotable, action-packed and provocative is now a lumbering beast, sagged down by tons of extraneous ramblings that don't add to the story even a little.

I certainly don't expect you to believe me. And in fact, I suppose some of you might even like the extra material, bland and superflous as it is. But for me, this version is a rough draft. I would much prefer to have a copy of the edited version. Editing is NOT a dirty word- it's part of the craft of writing.
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161 of 173 people found the following review helpful By Claude Avary on January 17, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Haldeman originally wrote this novel as an allegory of the Vietnam war, told through the eyes of a reluctant soldier caught up in a battle that never seemed to end, while the world he left behind changed drastically. However, it applies to all wars, in any time, and the book has never lost its timeliness.
Main character William Mandella serves in the war against the mysterious Taurans, which, because of time dilation udring his spaceship travels, lasts for seven hundred years while Mandella ages only ten. Earth alters, lifestyles completely change, and Mandella wonders the purpose of the senseless warfare.
Although specifically allegorical, Haldeman's novel is powerful enough to apply to all combat. In a way, this could be seen as the opposite to Heinlein's _Starship Troopers_, with reluctant soldiers caught in purposeless combat, and a hero who is neither more skilled or heroic than any other solider around him-he has merely lasted longer than the others. The book has many great touching moments in between the furious combat scenes (a few of which are confusing), such a Mandella's separation from his love Marygay Potter, and a sad return to an Earth that has aged beyond their understanding.
A deserving classic of many awards, and I'm sure it will never age as long as warfare is still with us.
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79 of 87 people found the following review helpful By jj on January 18, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Forever War" is authored by a Vietnam Veteran who uses the colorful setting of the future "Forever" War as an allegory for The 'Nam and the feelings of its vets. This powerful book grabs the reader quickly and throws him straight into the first-person world of William Mandela, would-be physics professor turned soldier by the Earth's military fight alien Taurans in a war with nebulous origins. Due to complications posed by relativity, each time the combatants engage, the battle is completely lopsided because one race will have the technological advantages endowed by time on their side. For example, if Earth sends a mission that takes 300 years for the mission to reach it's goal, the enemy already had 300 years to prepare and upgrade defenses, so the mission's tech is obsolete. Then, if the Taurans attack our outpost, the same thing happens. With no communication between the two races, no chance of winning, but the ever present chance of defeat, an eternal war is created. Halderman also captures the disorientation experienced by GIs who came back from horrific combat, and were expected to instantly adjust to 1960's "Ozzy and Harriet" American culture. The "Forever War" has a cynical ring that I instantly loved, as well as sublimely juxtaposing the positive and negative potentials of humans as individuals and a race. The military details are right on target, from the lingo and attitudes to soldiers' attitudes. Overall, I'd definitely recommend "The Forever War" to anyone with an interest in Sci-Fi. It'll also teach you about the motivations of warriors who turn peacemakers.
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