Alex Hammond's Reviews > Peace and War

Peace and War by Joe Haldeman
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Nov 12, 2009

it was ok
Read in November, 2009

The Forever War:
I think there are several ways to read this book. The first would be in the context of the socio-political environment and literary tradition in which it was written, a 'if I read this in 1974' type scenario. The second would be reading this today with all the baggage that comes with it as a Hugo/Nebula winning 'major work of SF'...

Although, having written that, I have to admit to reading it with all these concerns playing through my mind.

It is a very ideas heavy book in the classic Hard SF vein. However it does have some character driven periods, particularly when the Mandella returns to earth after his first tour of duty. As an allegory to the Vietnam conflict the book works surprisingly well. Almost as though a real account is less believable, harder to comprehend, then one told in a far future setting. The central plot point about the relativistic effects of faster-than-light travel really works well to demonstrate Mandella's alienation from the rest of humanity.

I could go on, at some length, about the poor gender/sexuality politics of the book in places, but this is perhaps a product of the period in which it was written.

For the ideas alone, I'd recommend the Forever War but really only to regular readers of SF. I must admit my interest was born of Ridley Scott's interest in the novel as the source material for his next film.
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Alex Hammond If you're feeling brave I can lend it to you next Saturday. It's short (200 pages-ish) so it's done quite quickly.


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