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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Forever War (revisited)


Around 35 years ago, give or take, I read Joe Haldeman's classic science fiction novel, The Forever War. I was in junior high or high school at the time, within a decade of the book's initial release in 1974. Until this week, I didn't remember much about the story other than it's similar to Heinlein's Starship Troopers, it involves time dilation from traveling near the speed of light (the protagonist is a soldier who fights aliens on distant worlds while time passes much more quickly for those back on Earth), and it bothered young me that on his return to Earth, the protagonist finds gender lines blurred and men wearing (gasp!) makeup. That's pretty much everything I remembered about the book.

I'd been looking for something to read on my Kindle for a few weeks, so when The Forever War went on sale for $1.99 last week, I snatched it up (metaphorically and digitally).

I'm about forty percent done (see, I have a Kindle, which reports the percentage completed as you read) and I'm loving it. It's really well written and has a great classic age of science fiction vibe skewed by the post-Vietnam era in which it was written. Hilariously, the story starts in the year 1997 where Earth has a presence throughout the solar system and colonies in other star systems, so it's a little off target. In the preface, Haldeman says he set it in the near future because he wanted his future soldiers to also be Vietnam veterans, but admits that, yeah, his take on our future was a little off.

If you haven't read it, I can recommend it and I'm not even done yet. I'm remembering a few more details as I work through it, but for the most part, it feels like the first time.

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