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The Forever War Paperback – February 17, 2009
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“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.” ―James Sallis, author of The Long Legged Fly, Drive, Cripple Creek
“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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'll be honest- I grew up on 90's and 00's Sci-fi shows like Andromeda, Stargate SG1, various Star Treks, and the like, so my sci-fi preference is adventures through space with... Read morePublished 16 hours ago by Hope
I don't need to review this. It's one of the most famous, well-received science fiction novels ever written. Read morePublished 20 hours ago by RichM
Ok, but not really my style, I only made it half way through the second novel.Published 2 days ago by Patrick
The usual "GI-Joe" characterization style of the main characters but an interesting premise with some surprising twists derived, I assume, from Mr. Read morePublished 2 days ago by David King
Such delightful science fiction and way ahead of its time :)
The historical analogy is very important and makes it a piece worthy of giving perspective.
Classic sci-fi story. Was happy to see it come out in Kindle format. I've worn out the paperback. Joe Haldeman can sure spin a good tale!Published 10 days ago by Amazon Customer
I can't believe I didn't read this year's ago. I'd only ever read one of Halderman's books, "All My Sins Remembered" and it's one of my favorites so I don't know why it took so... Read morePublished 11 days ago by Amanda C