22 April, 2009

Review: The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman

The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman is a moving tale about war. There is no simpler way to put it. The great science fiction and fantasy books out there always carry a deeper meaning or theme; the better the book the more timeless that theme is.

The Setup

William Mandella is a time traveler and a soldier, suffering the relativistic effects of deployment to cosmically distant battlegrounds against the Taurans, earths only enemy. As he rises through the ranks, thanks mostly to an uncanny knack for survival, the reader is exposed to social and technological metamorphoses back on earth. These changes in turn effect Mandella's unit, the tactics and technology at his disposal, and even his relationship to his only love, herself a conscript in the war. A superhuman helping of grit and realism make this one of the quickest and most enjoyable reads I have ever had the enormous pleasure to consume.

My Take

Mr. Haldeman strikes a cord so deep and timeless that should The Forever War ever be forgotten, we would not recognize the world in which we live. The book springs from the heart of a psyche that has endured the pains of war and seeks to communicate the futility of violence to the world. The prose flows simply and beautifully and captures the essence of what it means to fight, to die, and to suffer the deprivations that war brings.
If all that is a bit too poetic for you, let me just say that a lot of stuff goes boom, again and again, in so many awesome and original ways its hard to count. The great thing about the way the book is structured is that it allows the reader to see the development of technology and social moors as a clear Hegelian clash between thesis and antithesis. Nothing is spared by the progress of millennia, only the War itself.

Your Take

The general consensus is that the Forever War is a timeless work of art, similar to Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein. There are a few detractors however, who find that some of the themes go against their moral grain. I personally loved it and found even the most daring turns to be thought provoking and intellectually stimulating. If you have read it, what is your view?

Ratings & Links

Amazon: 4.5/5
B&N: 4.25/5
My Rating: 4.75/5

Read a great interview with Joe Haldeman.

Piqued Your Interest?

This is, quite simply, not a book to be passed over. If you are a science fiction lover then The Forever War needs to be added to your repertoire. If you are just starting out in the genre, there are few better places to start.


Min said...

The Forever War and the rest of the series are definitely way up there on my list as well. Good to see that we have similar tastes...