hankrules2011

Book reviews, health, hockey, publishing, music

A Review of The Forever War

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 17, 2012

The Forever WarThe Forever War by Joe Haldeman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Winner of both the Hugo & Nebula Awards, this proved to be an interesting book for me. It’s military sci fi, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s not my favorite sub-genre either. Still, this didn’t go overboard, in my opinion, so that was nice. It’s about a kid drafted into an interplanetary war who, due to technology issues, ages at a rate so slow in his hyperspace jumps that centuries pass by on Earth. Meanwhile, not much is known about the aliens he’s doing battle with, and indeed, the book pays little attention to them. What interested me more about the book was Haldeman’s descriptions of his vision of Earth’s progress in the future, or lack thereof; of the changes made in society and even humanity. Where one would think positive progress is made over time, we learn that’s not necessarily the case.

Written by a Vietnam vet during the Vietnam war, there’s some occasional social commentary to be gleaned from the book, but it’s mild. One odd thing to me, though, was that women aren’t always treated overly well. When our protagonist, Mandella, is drafted, he finds that the integrated army personnel sleeps together, as in sexually and with multiple partners, and in fact, the female military members are legally obliged to be sexual partners to the men. So in essence, they’re whores. That bothered me a lot. But if you can get past that, the women are otherwise treated well, and there is a love interest in the book, which I found mildly surprising.

I was bothered by some things that took place in the last section of the book, but I don’t want to give away spoilers, so you can decide for yourself. I will say that I loved the ending, the way things were tied up so neatly, and I was actually touched by it. Good job, Haldeman.

Overall, even though I’m just giving this book a 4 out of 5 stars (some of it’s rather dated, and he was way off in terms of envisioning some technology advances), I think it’s well worth the read and I heartily recommend it to anyone out there who is not only a sci fi lover, but a reader who enjoys military books, some action, some cultural commentary, etc. Worth the time to read, and at 280 pages, it’s easy to get through. Good book!

View all my reviews

7 Responses to “A Review of The Forever War”

  1. Dan Harris said

    I really enjoyed this one. I picked up ‘Peace and War’ the omnibus of the trilogy. The latter two aren’t as strong, though they’re still good reads.

    It was my recollection that the male crewmembers were similarly obliged to have sex whenever a female partner wanted – it’s been a while since I read it though. It would just surprise me, as I don’t have that impression of the book, and I think it would have annoyed me too.

    Like

    • Hey Dan! Good to hear from you. You’re correct — the men are obligated. One scene really stuck out for me though, and that’s when they go to this ship where there haven’t been many women, and Mandella’s female compatriots get worn out accommodating the ravenous appetites of the male soldiers there. That whole scenario just kind of threw me. But maybe I’m old fashioned, I don’t know.

      If you say the others aren’t as strong, I’m now a little reluctant to pick those up and read them. Are they considerably worse, or are they just not as strong, as you indicate? Thanks!

      Like

      • Dan Harris said

        Not considerably worse. The second, Forever Free, is a direct sequel, and doesn’t fare well by comparison. It’s just a little too slow, not enough action, though I personally very much enjoyed the ending (some won’t get as much satisfaction, but it ticked some personal boxes of mine).

        The third, Forever Peace, is a follow-up, with entirely different characters. It’s very much a separate book, and I’m not really sure how it belongs in the omnibus other than Haldeman wrote it and it has a similar name! It’s better than Free, solid military sci-fi fare with some very interesting ideas, and well executed, but maybe not up to War’s standards. But hey, that’s one of the all time classics, so no shame in that.

        I see what you mean about the sex obligation – I’d forgotten that. I thought it was cleverly done, myself. The obligation in itself is a sensible, logical decision for a military in a future with more liberal values – soldiers who get regular relief concentrate better, etc. And the result when you mix two populations with wildly differing gender ratios is very unpleasant, but completely expected. I don’t think there was anything misogynistic in it, personally.

        Cheers!

        Like

  2. Have you “read it” as a satire? A response to Heinlein’s unbridled jingoism of Starship Troopers? I find the end, and the time dilation bit, and the all the gay men portions were conveyed in such a weirdly lighthearted way that it comes off more as satirical…

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
Dancing With Cats

Politics, religion, culture, opinion

Cafe Book Bean

Talk Books. Drink Coffee.

Simple Living Over 50

Defining Life's Changes

The Book Review Directory

Over 160 Book Reviewer Bloggers Listed

Chaos Inc.

18+M/s-D/s DD/lg the life of a polyamorous sexually active "little" brat who doesn't give a flying squirrel fart what others think

A.D. Martin

writing - novels - film - television - video games - other stuff

In My Words

Life in my own words, my thoughts, my daily happenings, whatever....

Ravings of a Madman

(and other assorted things)

Crumpled Paper Cranes

Fumbling by Leisure, Singing to Cake

My Blog News And Blues Reviews

WHATEVER YOU'RE LOOKING FOR

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

The official blog of Jay Dee Archer. Exploring new worlds, real and fictional.

Piece of Mind

Everything in my blog is sprinkled with wizard dust.

Kiss My Glass Boston

Wine, cocktails, whatever.

My Preconceived Life

trying to add another person to the planet

bluchickenninja.com

a creative lifestyle blog

Lynette Noni

Embrace The Wonder

Tropical Affair

Observations of the illusion through the eyes of wonder...

Daily (w)rite

Damyanti Biswas is an author, blogger, animal-lover, spiritualist. Her work is represented by Ed Wilson from the Johnson & Alcock agency. When not pottering about with her plants or her aquariums, you can find her nose deep in a book, or baking up a storm.

%d bloggers like this: