by on June 6, 2012

in book reviews, Entertainment

The Forever War book reviewA book review –The Forever War is an older science fiction novel by Joe Haldeman. In it, the author addresses a future where mankind has encountered an alien species, and unlike ET, it ain’t friendly. And unlike the Disney-like world of Star Trek, Haldeman addresses a fascinating scientific aspect or side-effect of traveling near or at light speeds that makes this novel an absolutely fascinating read.

In the book, we discover aliens (Taurans) and our first encounter comes from when they attack a space-faring colonist ship. We decide to send out an armed reconnaissance effort, with the intent of exacting revenge for this heinous act.

Our cast of characters are trained on Earth, then sent to a planet called Charon for further training. The training is brutal and deadly.

In the meantime, humanity has found a way to cover thousands of light-years in distance in a matter of moments, through a phenomena called collapsars, which are like wormholes.

Hence, a way to move forward to engage the enemy.


Off the bat, the story doesn’t seem like anything new that we’ve seen in any other book or movie, but what caught my eye was the interesting aspect of what happens to the real world while our reluctant hero, William Mandella, is off at war. Therein, lies the interesting angle of the story.


Mandella is off, gallivanting about space, covering thousands of light-years and then the author goes and drags Einstein’s theory of Relativity into the mix. That means that time moves slower for those traveling at, near or beyond the speed of light.

So during the first encounter that Mandella has with the Taurans, they mop the floor with them. But on their return trip back from this attack, it seems that the Taurans have made huge advancements in technology during the course of the decades that Mandella and his team have been traveling. Decades that on board, were only weeks or a few months. Because of this now technological gap, close to half of Mandella’s squad mates are wiped from existence in this next confrontation with the Taurans.

And the trippy just keeps happening! The author addresses how each time our hero hops off to a skirmish, he loses decades to a few hundred years of Earth time, and it’s become more of an isolated journey for him, except for one close friend, who moves through the ranks of the military with him. But even that is ruined because they get assigned to different teams and make different distanced length hops, that of which means as soon as they say good-bye, it’s really a permanent farewell.

This wrinkle to the reality of the story made it more of a focused piece on our hero and Earth was just a token piece of info, as he learns about the developments on Earth over decades, between each space hop he takes.

I wasn’t sure what I enjoyed more, the battles, the personal confrontations with the enemy or to see what the author dreams up for Earth after each space hop. And I have to say, his focus on how Earth dealt with various changes and the cycles it went through was a fascinating approach indeed!

From Mandella’s first skirmish, when he returns to visit Earth, suddenly there’s only one currency, unemployment is at 70% (worldwide) and one cannot go anywhere without needing either a body guard or being fully armed, it just gets interesting from there. These changes drive Mandella and his peers back into the military, into something they know.

And the story moves forward from there.

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The Forever War is an older book that I just discovered in the Kindle library, but I learned that this book won the Nebula Award in 1975 and the Hugo and the Locus awards in 1976.

And according to rumor, movie-maker Ridley Scott has his eye on the story too. (But he’s had his eye on it for quite some time, so for the time being, I’m not holding my breath on that one.)

I thought it was an interesting read and was entertaining and it definitely engaged my imagination, for all it’s interesting quirks and details.

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The Forever War on Amazon

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