Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War was an interesting look at the human race at war and how it might evolve during a war period. It also deals with relativistic time and the idea of a person living for what equals 1000 years. In all the story has a large military presence but also poses intriguing questions.
The Forever War chronicles humanity’s fight against an alien race that supposedly is responsible for many unprovoked attacks against Earth’s first deep space exploration ships. In retaliation, Earth creates and trains an army and sets out to go attack the aliens. Over the course of the novel, each race learns more about each other and the first humans sent to war experience the odd sensation of relativistic time, where they age at a much slower rate because of how they travel through space.
Humanity develops more and more weapons to use against the aliens, while the aliens do the same thing. While all this is going on, the main character visits Earth to see its changes and manages to be one of the only people to live through the entire war and be at most of the major battles.
Some of the changes to humanity include a complete economic collapse, then a switch from heterosexuality being the norm to homosexuality being considered the usual sexual orientation. Eventually, this notion turns to cloning and developing a “perfect” human.
Eventually, the war ends and humans realize the reason behind the war. Only two people survive the entire war and have interesting thoughts on the war and progression of humanity.
Though The Forever War had a bit too much military pomp and circumstance for me, I still found the book to be an interesting take on war and the human existence. Since the book was about war, however, I realize that dealing with soldiers, tactics, and other such notions is pretty essential to the success of the story.
The best part of the book for me was the progression of humanity, specifically how Earth solved the problem of population growth by changing over to homosexuality being the mainstream sexual orientation. The fact that the book was written in the 1970s makes this even more unusual, because at that time it was incredibly progressive.
The book is also a good picture of war and how, in the end, most people don’t have the same zest for fighting than they did before and a lot of times, they don’t even know the reason.
In all, the book was interesting but wasn’t one of my favorite reads. If you can get past the amount of military terms and tactics in the novel, it ends up being a pretty good, thought-provoking story. I would recommend this to some people, but not all.
Speculative Fiction Challenge 2012 – Book # 13