Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Forever War” as Want to Read:
The Forever War
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Forever War (The Forever War #1)

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  83,644 Ratings  ·  3,471 Reviews
A book that's near perfect - Peter F. Hamilton

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 futur
Paperback, 254 pages
Published 2000 by Millennium (first published December 1974)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Forever War, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Topher I was thinking Tom Hardy. But Channing Tatum has been cast. I dunno.
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
This book is a military style space opera with …..Wait! Where are you going? Get back here. I hadn’t got to the good part yet. Give me a second to explain. Geez…

OK, so yes, there is an interstellar war with human troops in high-tech armored suits battling an alien enemy on distant planets. I know it sounds like another version of Starship Troopers or countless other bad genre sci-fi tales that copied it, but this one is different. Hell, when it was published in 1975 it won the Hugo, the Locus an
Emily May
Jan 11, 2014 Emily May rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2014
Yeaahhhh! I'm ready for some hard science fiction!

Look! I got my glasses on all serious-like.
Jan 07, 2016 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First published in 1974 and winner of the 1975 Hugo and Locus awards, Forever War by Joe Haldeman kicks ass.

More than just a book about a futuristic war, Haldeman describes a society built around the codependency of the industrial military complex and with a fluid dynamic socio-economic culture that is fascinating to watch unfold.

And the welfare recipients also get a bag of dope.

Haldeman’s protagonist, William Mandella, is in an elite military group that travels light distances to battles. Trans
In case any movie producers are listening in, ten reasons to film The Forever War:

1. Gratuitous sex and nudity.

2. Social relevance (it's about Vietnam, stoopid!)

3. Evil aliens.

4. General relativity.

5. Wormholes. Interstellar, Joe Haldeman was here first!

6. Freaky high-tech zone where you can only fight with swords.

7. Unexpected twist! (view spoiler)

8. Hive minds.

9. Feel-good happy ending.

10. Gratuitous sex and nudity.
Jul 26, 2008 Scurra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Catch-22 is often cited as one of the great books about the futility and inherent paradoxes of war. I think this is easily its equal, but is often overlooked because it is dismissed as "just" science fiction.

By using the tropes of SF, Haldeman vividly illustrates not only the psychological effects on the combatants, but also the desperate disassociation wrought between the "soldiers" and the rest of society - his reference point was the Vietnam veterans, but it could apply anywhere and anywhen.
Piotr Reysner
I bought and read this book based upon the many glowing reviews I saw on the internet. It's heralded as a classic and one of the best Sci-Fi books of all time. I have to disagree.

I liked the concept. Scientifically, it was intriguing. However, the story was repetitive and slow. The exact same thing kept happening over and over again. Set up base. Boring Battle, many people die. Get back on ship. Stay in space for a long time. Get bored. Return to base. Go back out. Repeat.

There were long, long s

Well I think it's safe to say that I'm not the target audience for this book. This is hard sci-fi military space opera and I haven't even seen any of the Star Wars movies, or Star Treks, and only a handful of Doctor Who episodes (I only found out last year what a TARDIS is).

I probably shouldn't have even been *allowed* to read this. Somebody Kemper should have ripped it right out of my hands decrying: "You're not worthy!" and they'd probably be right. Despite my keenest efforts, The Forever War
May 02, 2015 Apatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I first read The Forever War a couple years ago in audiobook format, I quite liked it but to be honest it did not leave much of a lasting impression. I suspect the audiobook format is not suitable for this particular book, I don’t remember there being anything wrong with the narration, I just could not retain much of the details after finishing it, just a vague feeling that it is quite good. I love audiobooks, but I am beginning to think that short sci-fi books are not really the ideal for this ...more
Raeden Zen
Nov 14, 2015 Raeden Zen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An Epic Satire of the Art of War

“‘Tonight we’re going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man.’ The guy who said that was a sergeant who didn’t look five years older than me. So if he’d ever killed a man in combat, silently or otherwise, he’d done it as an infant.”

The opening paragraph provides a glimpse into the most intriguing aspect of “The Forever War,” that of the affect of time dilation, officially defined as: the principle predicted by relativity that time intervals between events in
Sep 09, 2014 Bookwraiths rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, library
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews

The Forever War is touted as one of the best science fiction military novels ever written. At least, that is how I’ve always heard it described, and so going into this one, I was expecting lots of gritty Vietnam-inspired fighting and combat. And I got that. However, what I also got was an amazing mixture of science and societal evolution that made the fighting even more entertaining and the story as a whole well worthy of its “One of the Best Sci-fi Nov
Jun 18, 2011 Kane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Forever War is a great classic military sci-fi joint for a few reasons:

1. Time dilation. Haldeman takes this one feature of space-time travel and makes it the central character of the novel. It messes with the protagonist's life, makes military strategy interesting in that your enemy could suddenly have weaponry far more advanced that you (or just as likely could be carrying sticks), and it gives the story a far-reaching feel.

2. Simplicity. There's no complex world-building (although some hi
This is obviously a classic in the realms of sci-fi and of anti-war novels, and another book with thousands of reviews that I can't improve upon, but I'll just offer a couple of insights.

One of the primary concepts from the book is the main character returning from space travel (complete with Spacial Relativity) to an Earth that was completely foreign to him; it was a massive dose of culture shock which progressed deeper and deeper the further the story went. I was in the US Air Force for 22 yea
Kee the Ekairidium
I've had the longest fascination about war and the military lifestyle whether in historical books or works of fiction in general. There's just something deeply stirring about men and women giving up their lives in service of country or a government system even when that kind of loyalty demands death, destruction and bitter endings. I have great respect and admiration for this kind of people even if those things are mixed with pity and sadness as well.

My enjoyment for reading, watching and learn
Dec 12, 2007 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: sciencefiction
Let's say you're shipping off to a particular battle in a war. By the time you reach the battle, fight it, and return home, everyone you know has died of old age and the society you protected has evolved (or devolved) into something you don't recognize or particularly like. What would you be fighting for?

That's just one of the issues brought up in "The Forever War" by Joe Haldeman.

The Plot
In this novel of galactic war, the alien menace is the Taurans. The war is fought over collapsars, which ar
Nandakishore Varma
Hey! This is not about American intervention in the Middle East! Really!!!

4.0 to 4.5 stars. One of the best military science fiction novels ever written. Highlights the deep sense of alienation that soldiers can feel from the people they are sent to fight for. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

Winner: Hugo Award Best Science Fiction Novel (1976)
Winner: Nebula Award Best Science Fiction Novel (1976)
Winner: Locus Award Best Science Fiction Novel (1976)
Dec 30, 2013 Kyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After some thought, I had to bump this rating up a star. Originally, the laconic writing style gave me the impression the book fell short of the masterpiece it was capable of being; but, I now realize the Spartan prose works perfectly well with the delivery and message of the book. I have to admit now, the book is undeniably a masterpiece and deserves to be seen as such.

In one sense, this book is an amusing and entertaining galactic war story that is smartly delivered and is faithful to physics,
Jan 11, 2012 seak rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
Touted as the best sci-fi military novel ever written, I went into reading The Forever War with a lot of expectations; probably too many. Not to say that I didn't like it. I liked it a lot, I just didn't love it and I don't think it's the best military sci-fi novel ever written. I liked Starship Troopers by Heinlein much more. Where Heinlein takes a positive look at war, Haldeman uses his experience with the Vietnam war to paint a more dismal picture, not that this was the point that makes Stars ...more
Feb 01, 2014 Tfitoby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Joe Haldeman channels his inner Robert Heinlein with this response to the classic young adult war novel Starship Troopers, only this time Haldeman uses his real life experiences of Vietnam to paint a more realistic (and less heroic) portrait of what being in the army and at war is really like, despite the fact that it's in space fighting against non-humanoid aliens. He even finds time to include a cat. I'm sure Heinlein would have been especially pleased with that when he wrote to Haldeman to te ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Originally reviewed 2009, I just came back to put in a spoiler tag, which I didn't know how to do at the time...oops.

Interesting take on things. In a way in the end this is more an "anti-war" book than a stand alone novel. It unfortunately reflects the Utopian type views that came out of the 60s/70s reaction to Vietnam, the one that asks the question, "what would happen if they gave a war and nobody came?" Of course the unaccepted (but logical)answer to this question is, they bring it to you. Se
J.L.   Sutton
Aug 05, 2015 J.L. Sutton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While it reminded me of Heinlein's Starship Troopers and Avatar (especially the beginning where recruits are told about all the things that could kill them and how they likely wouldn't make it back alive), Haldeman's Forever War takes a different turn. Haldeman's book focuses on a soldier fighting an interstellar war. Because our character is traveling to his battles at near-light speed, when he returns to earth between missions, decades pass. Haldeman speculates about the social changes taking ...more
Wayne Barrett
Pretty interesting Sci-Fi tale...probably a 3.5 would be a more accurate rating but the lack of anticipated action hinders me.
I liked the take on a soldier fighting a battle through time travel in a 1000 year war in which he only ages a few years. It makes one ponder the possible changes in society as experienced by Mandella after so many centuries pass by.
Not a bad story, but other than the final battle,the conflicts with the Taurans and the new experiences in different time lapses, it was all
Nov 16, 2012 Valerie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ivan Lutz
May 01, 2015 Ivan Lutz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Istinsko remek djelo i to ne samo znanstvene fantstike. Knjiga koja svojom temom uspostavlja sasvim novi oksimoron pojam: "ratni pacifizam", a svi oni koji su prošli ratna stradanja mogu se lako pronaći u ovome. Sličnu temu obradio je Stanislaw Lem u svojoj "Povratak sa zvijezda", no dramaturški bazirajući se na osobnu dramu i ostajući na njoj, dok je Haldeman zario pero u cijeli svijet, prostor-vrijeme i nadljudsku borbu da se zbog ljubavi prevrne cijeli svemir, makar to značilo i Vječno ratova ...more
One of the first 'classic' science fiction novels that I've really liked. Kudos, Haldeman.

As an allegory for the Vietnam War - in space - the Forever War is incredibly well told. Everything - from killing the inhabitants of a foreign land to just the total brutality and pointlessness of the war - is told in an incredibly dry, military-esque tone which distances you somewhat from it - probably intentionally. This doesn't mean that the book is devoid of emotion, and Mandella's internal pain is all
Ben Babcock
So I’m on a relativistic shuttle, waiting for you…. I never found anybody else and I don’t want anybody else. I don’t care whether you’re ninety years old or thirty. If I can’t be your lover, I’ll be your nurse.

Hey kids, you know how people keep using that word allegory, and you’re never really sure what they mean, and they probably aren’t even sure what they mean?

This. This is an allegory.

If there’s a reason we have the phrase “deceptively slim” in our book reviewing vocabulary, it’s for books
Léonard Gaya
Aug 11, 2014 Léonard Gaya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Joe Haldeman, a Vietnam veteran, wrote "The Forever War" in the seventies, and his novel soon became a classic of the so-called "military science-fiction" genre, in keeping with Heinlein's "Starship Troopers". The novel tells the story of an intergalactic war with an alien race, that spans well over a millennium, as seen from the point of view of Private Mandella. It starts with drill instruction and training on a freezing satellite of Pluto, expanding further on until the conflict reaches the f ...more
Oct 20, 2013 Zorena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sure this has your typical space wars that were popular in mid 20th century sci fi but what makes this book stand out is the time dilation and it's effects. When the soldiers return home approximately 60 years have passed during their two year tour and much on Earth has changed.

So many people so lacking food and the basic necessities that they are more than willing to kill others for what they have. Overpopulation and lack of medical care for the majority of it. Sound familiar? Acclimatization
Apr 23, 2015 F.R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading some science fiction can be like reading history. The author’s vision of the future is so tied up with the NOW of his/her present, the result can’t help but read as social commentary. ‘Forever War’ is such an example. It’s impossible to engage with this novel without having Vietnam enter your consciousness; to enter its world without being transported back to the early seventies – even as the narrative takes you far into the future.

William Mandella is a physics graduate drafted as a grun
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Terminal Experiment
  • A Deepness in the Sky (Zones of Thought #2)
  • The Stars My Destination
  • Non-Stop
  • Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1)
  • Cities in Flight (Cities in Flight, #1-4)
  • The Space Merchants (The Space Merchants #1)
  • Tau Zero
  • A Time of Changes
  • Stations of the Tide
  • Babel-17
  • Timescape
  • The Healer's War
  • Stand on Zanzibar
  • The Rediscovery of Man
  • The Fountains of Paradise
  • Spin (Spin, #1)
  • House of Suns
Brother of Jack C. Haldeman II

Haldeman is the author of 20 novels and five collections. The Forever War won the Nebula, Hugo and Ditmar Awards for best science fiction novel in 1975. Other notable titles include Camouflage, The Accidental Time Machine and Marsbound as well as the short works "Graves," "Tricentennial" and "The Hemingway Hoax." Starbound is scheduled for a January release. SFWA pres
More about Joe Haldeman...

Other Books in the Series

The Forever War (3 books)
  • Forever Peace (The Forever War, #2)
  • Forever Free (The Forever War, #3)

Share This Book

“The 1143-year-long war hand begun on false pretenses and only because the two races were unable to communicate.

Once they could talk, the first question was 'Why did you start this thing?' and the answer was 'Me?”
“Tonight we're going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man.” 18 likes
More quotes…