The Forever War, Joe Haldeman

I read this as it was the September choice for the Sword & Laser book club. Sci-fi is a genre that I’ve not read much of, not because of I don’t think I would enjoy it, but because I never really got around to it. I read Stephen Donaldson’s Gap series twice and they are included in my top 5 list. I also read Dune and enjoyed it too.

So, The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman. This is supposed to be a classic of the genre and, to be honest, I’m not sure why. I did enjoy it but it’s quite forgettable in my opinion.

The main themes are war and time dilation. The main protagonist, William Mandella, is conscripted along with a number of individuals with a high IQ. They endure a tough training regime, during which many trainees lose their lives. This happens in a fairly come-what-may sort of way and we don’t learn enough about the characters really to care. And this is one of the book’s shortcomings: it’s too short. Not enough time is spent developing the characters, or the plot. This makes it a short book. Another 100 or so pages would have allowed the author to give it some flesh.

Due to the physics of travelling above light speed, Mandella encounters time dilation. So while a few months pass for him, years pass on earth. When he gets back, things have changed so much that he no longer feels comfortable on earth. So he goes back to the army and gets back into the war again.

I found the idea of homosexuality off putting at first. This is something that happens on earth to prevent population increase. It’s an interesting concept.

To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy the book enough to write more about it than I already have. As this is not a recommendation list but simply a list of what I’ve read (because I do forget), I’ll leave it at that.