[Book Review] The Forever War

The Forever War / Joe Haldeman

Well.  I can certainly see where comparisons between Old Man's War and The Forever War are made.  I love that Scalzi wrote his book without having familiarity with this one, and his introduction to this edition is kind of precious.

The Forever War is a 40 year old novel, deliberately set so that characters could have served in Vietnam.  In some ways it has aged poorly, and in others it seems like something written today.  But then, some themes are as relevant now as then.  It's a space opera about war, about the world changing around you, and perhaps the vagarities of chance.

This was technically the July Virtual Speculation read, but at this rate I don't have to pick a list for next year, just finish up this years...  Life has been a bit, overwhelming.

Discussion Fodder
  • There are some markedly different cultural structures at the start of the story, including the bed rotation roster, the "Fuck You, Sir" response, and the deliberate conscription of high IQ people for soldiers.  What are the intents and impacts of these?  How do they change over the course of the story.  What do you think of those changes?
  • The army makes use of conditioning and triggers, think about how we program each other already, how does that overlay?  How well does Haldeman handle the aftereffects and consequences?
  • How does future shock and time dilation shape the story and the experiences of the characters?  How does it shape the war, or any soldier's experience?
  • In the framework of when the book was written, how well does it handle sexuality and gender neutral pronouns?  How does it hold up, where does it fall down?
  • Let's talk about the different economic systems, both on Earth and on the planets specifically catering to soldiers with excessive amounts of back pay.
  • What do you think about the war being false pretense and miscommunication?
  • Does this book have a happy ending?


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