The Forever War (1974)
Spine Front Cover Book Details
Joe Haldeman
Publication Date 1996
Format Leather-bound (235 x 160 mm)
Publisher The Easton Press
Genre Science Fiction
Product Details
Series Masterpieces of Science Fiction
No. of Pages 236
Paper Type Acid-neutral paper
First Edition No
Personal Details
URL This book on
Rating 9
No. of Reviews 192
Frontispiece/Illustrator Vincent Di Fate
Introduction/Foreward Ben Bova
Original Details
Original Publisher St. Martin's Press
Original Publication Year 1974
In the 1970s Joe Haldeman approached more than a dozen different publishers before he finally found one interested in The Forever War. The book went on to win both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, although a large chunk of the story had been cut out before it saw publication. Now Haldeman and Avon Books have released the definitive version of The Forever War, published for the first time as Haldeman originally intended. The book tells the timeless story of war, in this case a conflict between humanity and the alien Taurans. Humans first bumped heads with the Taurans when we began using collapsars to travel the stars. Although the collapsars provide nearly instantaneous travel across vast distances, the relativistic speeds associated with the process means that time passes slower for those aboard ship. For William Mandella, a physics student drafted as a soldier, that means more than 27 years will have passed between his first encounter with the Taurans and his homecoming, though he himself will have aged only a year. When Mandella finds that he can't adjust to Earth after being gone so long from home, he reenlists, only to find himself shuttled endlessly from battle to battle as the centuries pass. --Craig E. Engler
The only things worth writing about, teachers of literature say, are love, war, and death. If that is an exaggeration, the truth, at least, is that authors have devoted much of their writings to these basic themes - science-fiction writers included.

Joe Haldeman's The Forever War is one of the most distinguished representatives of the attempt by science-fiction writers to deal with the question of war and its soldiers. The novel was written while the war in Vietnam was still under way. Its author was a combat engineer in that war and was severely wounded (his first novel, War Year, 1972, was a realistic description of a typical draftee's tour of duty in Vietnam).

The Forever War reflects the reality of Haldeman's personal ex perience in combat as well as his imagination of battle as it moves into space, the future, and new technologies. Haldeman has said that although science fiction is a literature of ideas, that does not exempt it from normal literary standards, and The Forever War qualifies as a novel as well as a work of science fiction. Its characters, the equivalent of today's foot soldiers, face not only the traditional problems of draftees but because of the time-dilation effect of fighting an interstellar war (the forever of the title) run additional hazards of spaceship travel and alienation from their own civilizations. They also must cope with typical bureaucratic mismanagement and cynical manipulation. Through it all, however, run the other major themes of love and death.

War has been a favorite theme of science fiction, particularly the final wat resembling the biblical Armageddon. Perhaps the first and greatest of these (and, incidentally, another volume in the Masterpieces collection) was H. C. Wells' The War of the Worlds, with its "intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic" in their war machines. Wells also wrote The War in the Air, predicting the devastation of aerial warfare, "The Land Ironclads," describing the dominance of the tank, and The World Set Free, predicting the atomic bomb. The tradition of a final war continued into the beginnings of World War II with L. Ron Hubbard's Final Blackout. Later stories often raised the nightmare of atomic bombs ending all life or leaving only savages in the ruins of civilization.

Another kind of story, however, has dealt with the people who fight the wars. The most prominent example is Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers, in which voluntary service, including military service, is the only way to achieve full citizenship. This award-winning novel was followed by many others, including Gordon Dickson's Soldier, Ask Not, Jerry Pournelle's Janissaries, and, more recently, Lucius Shepard's Life During Wartime.

Haldeman's The Forever War first appeared in Analog magazine as a series of stories about a futile future war with aliens. The stories were brought together as a novel in 1974 and won both a Nebula Award and a Hugo as the best science-fiction novel of that year. The novel immediately thrust Haldeman into the front rank of science- fiction writers, particularly those firmly grounded in science who write convincingly about not only the technology of the future but the way in which that technology will affect the lives of people. He has since pub lished nearly a dozen books, including Mindbridge (1976), All My Sins Remembered (1978), Worlds (1981), and two collections of short stories, as well as an anthology Study War No More: A Selection of Alternatives (1977). Haldeman, who earned a bachelor's degree in physics and astronomy from the University of Maryland and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Iowa, teaches creative writing one semester a year at M.I.T.

The Forever War offers its readers the multiple pleasures of good writing, believable characters, and a vividly imagined future.

The specially commissioned frontispiece for this edition was created by Vincent DiFate, a leading science-fiction illustrator for 20 years. Mr. DiFate also designed the artwork for the chapter headings and the cover and spine of this deluxe Easton edition.