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  • Published: New York : Thomas Dunne Books, 2009.
  • Year Published: 2009
  • Edition: 1st St. Martin's Griffin ed.
  • Description: 264 p. ; 21 cm.
  • Language: English
  • Format: Book

ISBN/Standard Number

  • 9780312536633
  • 0312536631


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The forever war

by Haldeman, Joe W.

There is currently 1 available

Where To Find It

Call number: Science Fiction

Available Copies: Downtown 2nd Floor

Additional Details

The Earth's leaders have drawn a line in the interstellar sand, despite the fact that the fierce alien enemy they would oppose is inscrutable, unconquerable, and very far away.

Community Reviews

Terrific, smart and thoughtful.

The brightest and best that the Earth have to offer are drafted into the army to wage pan-galactic war against the only known sapient extraterrestrial species. Thanks to relativity and near-light-speed travel troop transports, the helpless conscripts keep bounding forward in time. The Forever War follows one physicist/trooper across centuries of warfare and loss, waste and stupidity.

It's not poetry but it is wonderfully well-written with lots of deliciously hard science. Haldeman uses the time dilation to envision over 1000 years of social evolution from a more or less modern perspective. It's absorbing.


In the early stages of the war, it's mentioned in passing that casual sex among the male and female troops is all but mandatory. Which was jarring until I considered that within the parameters of the story, STDs were not a concern, pregnancy was impossible, and there was no stigma, no slut-shaming. Why WOULDN'T the hormone-filled not-long-for-this-world rank and file get busy at every opportunity?

A few decades later, the Earth government is pushing homosexuality HARD as a means of population control. A third of the planet is gay. Crime is at an all time high but at least straight-gay relations have never been better.

A few more centuries pass and not only is everyone gay (save the unusually long-lived protagonist and a few "uncurables") but childbirth and parenthood have been entirely replaced with laboratory "quickening" and creche government-raising. Those who can't let go of their heterosexuality are institutionalized for life, as are those who exhibit "sociopathy" by refusing to volunteer for combat when asked. The protagonist is referred to as the "old queer" by resentful subordinates and his fellow officers magnanimously allow that it's not his fault he's straight. "Besides" says one, "it's not like you're eating babies." So generous. Shades of White Man's Burden here, addressing social injustice by simply reversing it and waving it around. It's effective.

Forever War is riddled with antiwar and antimilitary sentiment; impressively, Haldeman is able to pull this off without being preachy or reductive. He just tells a smart, thoughtful story and the message shines through. Awesome book.

Start with this one

If you are going to read anything by Haldeman, this is the book to read. Joe Haldeman wanted to write two books inspired by his experience in the Viet Nam war, one conventional fiction, and one science fiction. This is the latter.

William Mandela is recruited into the army to fight an intersteller war against a foe that they know essentially nothing about. The war takes him into battles, and inexoribly into the future as trips have time passing more slowly for the soldiers than for earth, friends, and family left behind.

This passing of time provides the alienation that public disapproval of Viet Nam did, and it is an even clearer case that you can never go home again.

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