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Forever Peace Mass Market Paperback – October 1, 1998
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Julian Class is a full-time professor and part-time combat veteran who spends a third of each month virtually wired to a robotic "soldierboy." The soldierboys, along with flyboys and other advanced constructs, allow the U.S. to wage a remotely controlled war against constant uprisings in the Third World. The conflicts are largely driven by the so-called First World countries' access to nanoforges--devices that can almost instantly manufacture any product imaginable, given the proper raw materials--and the Third World countries' lack of access to these devices. But even as Julian learns that the consensual reality shared by soldierboy operators can lead to universal peace, the nanoforges create a way for humanity to utterly destroy itself, and it will be a race against time to see which will happen first. Although Forever Peace bears a title similar to Joe Haldeman's classic novel The Forever War, he says it's not a sequel. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Veteran sf writer Haldeman views this novel not as a continuation of but as a follow-up to the problems raised in his highly acclaimed 1975 novel, Forever War. In the Universal Welfare State in 2043, draftees and volunteers link their brains to "soldierboy" war machines that do the actual fighting hundreds of miles away. Black physics professor and linked draftee Julian Class; his white mentor and lover, Dr. Amelia Harding; and her colleague Peter discover that the high-profile Jupiter Project is about to re-create the Big Bang that will destroy the solar system. The original 20 survivors of an experiment to link brains via implanted jacks discover they can turn people into pacifists by linking them for two weeks. Together with Julian and Amelia, the group stays one jump ahead of assassins as they try to stop the project and pacify key figures. At once a hard science, military, and political thriller, this book presents a thoughtful and hopeful solution to ending war in the 21st century. Essential for sf collections.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I did like this book, and the "big idea" at its core is very interesting, especially when seen as the complete opposite of the same idea as contemplated by other of my favorite authors -ahem, Peter Watts, ahem-. But I have to say the execution left something to be desired, at lest for me. First there's the shift between first person and omniscient third person; on the face of it, there should be no problem with this alternating style between first and third person, I've seen it done well before. But in this case I believe there is a problem with the fact that the third person narrator is omniscient. The narrative flow thus becomes bumpy, when you go from Julian Class' telling of his story, full of things he doesn't know, to the third person narrator who knows everything and insists on either giving you explicit details about things Class will never know, or on winking at you about the things he, the omniscient narrator, knows and which will be revealed to you later on. I don't know, I just don't think ending a portion of third person narrative which describes the assumptions of the main characters with a "but they were wrong" or a "or so they believed", it's the best possible choice in this kind of alternating narrative style.
A lot of facts and characters suddenly come up on the story, with only the barest preamble, and you find yourself getting a crash course on this or that new character's motivations and personality at the same time you see them do what they're there to do and then be done. In one particular case, one of this sudden appearances just vanishes, having existed only, apparently, to show a point which is never even really a plot point in the story as it is, and only maybe becoming something to keep in mind in the world after the story ends, that is if you remember that character at all.
You also get crash courses on the nature of certain facts or situations just as they become necessary for the story to progress. It sometimes feels like characters suddenly rise their hands and point out how, hey, they just happen to have this device that will save us all, sorry not to have mentioned it before, didn't occurred to me, nevertheless, day saved -this may not happen just like I've stated it, but that's the feeling you get sometimes-.
There is also a very sharp turn almost exactly at the middle of the story. Almost like this are two different novels in one. Which under certain perspective may make sense, given the subtext of loss, but nonetheless can leave you feeling like everything you read up to that middle point was not as important or necessary as it had seemed to be.
Apart from all of the above, this can be a very enjoyable book, with very interesting and worthwhile ideas.
I'm not a guy who likes sagas anymore, this days when it seems there cannot be any more stand alone genre novels and that all science fiction and fantasy must be part of at least a trilogy, I'm getting fed up with all that, I miss the good old days of stand alone books. Which becomes very ironic in this case for two reasons, one: This book is definitely a stand alone, it in no way is a sequel to The Forever War, doesn't happen in the same universe, different story exploring different issues. Two: I kind of which this book had been at least two, each exploring in depth the implications of each half of this book, because the way it is, you're left wanting to know more about the aborted issues of the first part, and wondering about the consequences of the second part. It could be seen as if the very complex problems visited in the first half, get a deus ex machina solution in the form of the second half, or that the second half could have happen anyway with any of a wide variety of scenarios for the first half.
Haldeman's most famous work was raw and emotional, ripping and depressing in its vivid depiction of the emptiness of war.
Forever Peace is different, despite the similarity in title. It's ostensibly about a near-future in which drone warfare has expanded to involve jacked-in hackers running fully connected war robots. They fight against insurgent rebels who have no realistic chance of defeating them, effortlessly slaughtering people with far inferior weaponry. Those who run these machines are at *some* risk, but for the most part they are unhurt by battle damage. They can also fly home from the theater of combat on weekends to see their loved ones. It's a complicated sort of war, and it had the potential for a novel with much introspection about the impersonality and potential inhumanities of this detached, robotic warfare.
But instead Haldeman chose to take it in another direction, one that muddles what commentary he does make on the driving idea of the novel. He begins to put more emphasis on the neural technology that gives rise to the man-machine interface, and how it can be used for entertainment as well as for a grand and bizarre project that would end the entire concept of war forever. As it turns out, this message is weakly formed and changes the narrative direction of the novel so that the entire message ultimately feels weak. It was easy to begin reading this novel, but I didn't find it easy to finish, because by the end I found myself feeling like the characters were all dispassionate Don Quixotes, as contradictory and strange as that might be.
However, points are awarded for the book's polyamorous African American viewpoint character. Talk about nontraditional SF heroes. He's a good guy to get inside the head of for a little while.
Most recent customer reviews
I thoroughly enjoyed Forever War (1st book in this series) and upon completing it, couldn't wait to get into Part 2.Read more