The Forever War (The Forever War, #1)
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The Forever War (The Forever War #1)

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  61,241 ratings  ·  2,583 reviews
Series Info:
This is the first part of the "Forever War" series, however it can be read as a standalone.

Book Description:
The Earth's leaders have drawn a line in the interstellar sand—despite the fact that the fierce alien enemy that they would oppose is inscrutable, unconquerable, and very far away. A reluctant conscript drafted into an elite Military unit, Private William...more
Paperback, 278 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by Eos (first published 1974)
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Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardDune by Frank Herbert1984 by George OrwellFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books
39th out of 4,229 books — 15,388 voters
Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardStarship Troopers by Robert A. HeinleinOld Man's War by John ScalziThe Forever War by Joe HaldemanOn Basilisk Station by David Weber
Military Science Fiction
4th out of 525 books — 654 voters

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Community Reviews

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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...more
Emily May
Yeaahhhh! I'm ready for some hard science fiction!

Look! I got my glasses on all serious-like.
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....more
Raeden Zen
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...more
Jonathan Cullen
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...more
Dec 12, 2007 Mark rated it 4 of 5 stars
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...more
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)
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,...more
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...more
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Seak (Bryce L.)
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
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 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 format....more
An ugly future seems almost inevitable; but none more so effective than that of war's effect of humanity. This unsettling novel has made the vanguard of warfare seem far less disturbing than the home front. It introduces several troubling ideas that seem quite plausible, and all the more worrying because of it. Could you imagine a world where countries not only accept homosexuality, but encourage it by means of vying for population control? This is a clever little motif that qualifies for post-i...more
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...more
Leonard Gaya
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

The Forever War is a dark reminder of what humanity could be if it were trapped into a cycle of war and destruction. But more than that, it is a reminder that the true battles are not always the obvious battles being fought on the frontlines, but the battles against our very souls and humanity.

Written as a reflection upon the horror of the Vietnam War, The Forever War is now generally accepted as a piece of classic science fiction. In it, the main character William Mandella, is forced to embark...more
Lisa Vegan
So, here’s the situation. I’d most likely have loved this book and given it 5 stars if I’d read it nearly four decades ago when it first came out.

It’s so funny to me how as a reader I can almost always tell from what era a book comes. This one is so early 1970s! What was considered idyllic and what was considered horrific from that period comes through.

As a reader now, I liked it. It held my attention for the most part, and I got more & more interested as the sections rolled along, and as th...more
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
What is it about military science fiction novels? When I was in high school and then as an enlisted man in the Army, I would devour them by the dozen.

These books take us to the farthest reaches of deep space and the most alien of worlds. They posit realities in which the very survival of the human species is at stake. And yet they are ultimately novels of manners, pitting a protagonist's aspirations against rigidly controlled hierarchies and webs of social practice and expectation. Military prot...more
Nicholas Karpuk
The early chapters of The Forever War really concerned me. Though well written, it had a distinct flavor of military fetishism that's carried on through sci fi into the concept of a Space Marine, the grizzled, thick-necked bastard who populates a ton of modern fiction, especially video games.

Only after Mandella returns home does the real heart of the book fully come out. The time dilation of his time spent fighting out among the stars has taken him out of sync with his own world, and he comes ba...more
Daniel Roy
Great SF stories stand the test of time by transcending the period from whence they emerged. The Forever War, oddly enough, is timeless precisely because it is firmly rooted in a key period of world history. It manages to evoke, to this day, the horrors of Vietnam and the pain of returning veterans, and in so doing transcends them into a timeless discussion about the futility of war and how it uses up human lives.

I first read The Forever War in comicbook form, thanks to Marvano's amazing adaptat...more
The Forever War is pretty pacy, easy to read. Sometimes the long descriptions of technology or warfare get a bit wearing, and there isn't enough of the human angle, but by about halfway through, I was starting to care without realising it, and by about seventy percent of the way through, I felt like I got a kick in the stomach when one of the few things that seemed like it was going to be a constant stopped.

I know very little about the Vietnam War, so I know very little about the climate this bo...more
This is a great science fiction novel. I wish more were like it. It's terse, emotionally powerful, and doesn't spend hundreds of pages with tedious "world building." You're dropped into the action, much like the protagonist, and all the horror and emotional devastation of war is thrown at you.

It's tough to write a book about warfare on alien worlds against bizarre extraterrestrial species and not come off sounding a little silly. The fact that Joe Haldeman makes this book every bit as gripping a...more
Jake Forbes
I finally picked up Joe Haldeman’s seminal sci-fi novel The Forever War and it knocked my snooty spaceship-and-military-fiction-averse socks off. Quick summary for those who haven’t read it yet, the Forever War is about one soldier’s experience in a war between humans and an alien race that, due to time dilation from faster-than-lightspeed travel, lasts over a thousand years. While there are a few battle scenes, the novel isn’t about tactics or technology at all, but rather it’s a timeless soldi...more
A gripping read in the mold of Heinlein's Starship Troopers, though the novel is substantively/philosophically antithetical to ST. Haldeman's Vietnam experience informs the book from beginning to end, and he does a fine job of capturing the futility, frustration, and petty indignities of war from the POV of a (more or less) lowly participant.

* Relativity: Haldeman weaves the practical aspects of relativity into this book more than any other SF novel I've read. It's fascinating nerd mind-fodder.

Joe Haldeman wrote this novel as an answer to his experiences in the Vietnam war: War is stupid and inhuman, love survives. It is hard SF as its central idea is how war is elongated under relativistic speed where veterans return only after centuries

Let me begin with the deeply affecting love story aspect: The main protagonist Mandella's has a relationship with another soldier. Heterosexuality will be a crime in the future and later on a strange perversity. But this Mandella is old-schooled and...more
This book is about William Mandella and his military career. A career that last for centuries due to time dilation caused by his travels near the speed of light to distant planets through worm-hole like devices called collapsars. Mandella spends a few years traveling to distant planets, fighting battles and when he comes home to Earth, decades have pasted. Yes, at last,a book that uses Einstein's relativity theory. Most soldiers don't survive the battles, a lot die in training on base. Space is...more
Whispers from the Pirate's Ghost Whisper
Okay, for those of you who like the short version, I give it a three. For me that usually indicates a fun read or a good read, but not one that’s remarkable. In this case, rating this book is more complicated than a simple number because I don’t agree with some of the conclusions of this story’s future for earth. It was a provocative story and I like provocative stories. This one seemed to poke my conscience with a new issue before I'd processed the first one. In some places the story seemed lik...more
An exceptionally well written and fascinating book. We follow William Mandella through his military career in a war that spans centuries of time and many light years of space. Due to the time dilations associated with near light speed travel, it is perfectly possible for one individual to be around for just as long, assuming he can survive the exceedingly high casualty rate of their battles.

One of the most interesting things about this book is learning about the social and cultural changes that...more
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Goodreads Librari...: ebook page numbers 4 32 Apr 23, 2014 11:01PM  
Portland Reddit F...: Effect of war on science fiction 1 9 Mar 17, 2014 01:22PM  
Sci-fi and Heroic...: The Forever War 29 137 Dec 30, 2013 04:51AM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: First Impressions *no spoilers* 27 158 Dec 29, 2013 10:19AM  
Sci Fi Aficionados: Joe Haldeman's The Forever War 5 65 Nov 13, 2012 07:45PM  
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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
More about Joe Haldeman...
Forever Peace (The Forever War, #2) The Accidental Time Machine Camouflage Forever Free (The Forever War, #3) Marsbound

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“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.” 7 likes
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