zaterdag 20 augustus 2016

Joe Haldeman: The Forever War

Hi everyone

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman was first published in 1974. It won the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award and the Locus Award.
My copy has 238 pages and 7 pages introduction etc.
I got my copy in Amsterdam.

 “Private William Mandella is a reluctant hero in an interstellar war against an unknowable and unconquerable alien enemy, but his greatest test will come when he returns home. Relativity means that for every few months' tour of duty centuries have passed on earth, isolating the combatants ever more from the world for whose future they are fighting.”

                                *   SPOILERS   *

The Forever War is an autobiographical retelling of Haldeman's own experiences in Vietnam during the war, but it’s set in space.

William Mandella is an amazing character. He is complex, utterly human and fully fleshed-out. All characters are truly human; not purely good or evil, everyone makes mistakes and they all think only of themselves when push comes to shove.

Haldeman’s writing is clear and concise. There’s no fluff whatsoever but the book still reads nice and easy. And it’s unexpectedly emotional. The loss of friends and family not only because they are so far away but also because they’ll be dead by the time the (surviving) soldiers come back is felt throughout the novel. It’s not dramatic but the sense of loss and loneliness, of detachment is an important part of the story.
The time dilation aspect is brilliant and I loved it.

The worldbuilding is limited (it’s a small book after all) but it got me thinking about our Earth and the future we’re likely to have. The way to go about sexuality and reproduction by starting with loose sexual relationships, then normalizing gay relationships, later on straight people are publically shamed, then a homogenous people is engineered until they simply clone humans in the end. Absolutely genius. And very thought provoking.

Most of the science went way over my head but because those info-dumps were short they didn’t bother me. It is something you should know though if that’s something you don’t like in SF.

I really, really liked this novel.


Happy reading!

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