Forever War

I came across this book on NPR’s web site. It was someone talking about sci fi books that crossover. One of the books on the  list was Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, which is one of my favorite books, and another was Joe Haldeman’s Forever War.

Haldeman is a Vietnam Vet and set the book at a time when Vietnam vets would be the heads of the military yet there’s space travel and humanity is fighting an alien race so first off you have to suspend your disbelief in this regard.

The the book is about super smart drafted men and women training and then fighting a war against an alien race (later it turns our that the only reason their was a war was because of a breakdown in communication between the two species) and also how alien they feel when they return home. Haldeman makes lightspeed travel super long so that when the hero William Mandella returns home he may only have aged 2 years but everyone on Earth aged 20.

The main points that Haldeman touches on include the alienation and isolation veterans feel when they come home and why some are perpetually stuck in the military not by choice but by necessity because their once current skills are now drastically out of date.

At one point, Haldeman makes all of the new members of the military gay because the powers that be on Earth decided that it was the best population control.

Forever war may not have been the most compelling sci fi read of all time but it’s not bad. Haldeman’s character development lacked a little bit but they overall points he was making outweighed that. So you have to take the good with the bad.


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