The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I hovered between 4 and 5 stars here, but I went with 5 because I really did find this book very interesting. Not gripping or particularly exciting, but certainly interesting and thought-provoking. Considering this was the goal of the book, to get you thinking, I decided to go with 5 stars.
So anyway, in case you didn't know, The Forever War is an allegory for the Vietnam War. Soldiers go to fight, come back to find a world changed forever, rinse and repeat. What I didn't expect but was pleasantly surprised to find is that this book features some incredibly hard science! And it uses that hard science not as world-building or "neat add-ins" but instead as true plot mechanics! For example, the entire reason the main character returns home from war to find the world forever changed is do to the time dilation of space travel. Like, really, so obvious and yet utterly genius! And that's just one example. I really do admire the author's erudition.
That said, there was some stumbling along the way. The main character doesn't have any real depth, and neither does anyone else for that matter. Everything was described in this sort of bland, passing way that didn't evoke much emotional response from me. As far as the story part goes, there wasn't much to hang my hat on. I read this book more as a nonfiction set in a fictional setting.
Which I think is actually the entire point of the novel. To read like a history book set in a scifi future, so hence the 5 stars. The Forever War nailed it.
And speaking of history, I think Egypt is calling me.
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