I’ve long enjoyed military science fiction, so I have had The Forever War on my to read list for…well…you know…forever. I’m glad I did. Finally. It is not just damn good, it is good for a reason. Several, in fact.
The Forever War is a fascinating military science fiction story with some thoughtful considerations about how traveling at faster than the speed of light causes people to experience time at different speeds, so to speak, and the cultural and personal impact of what that does to societies and individuals.
Given all the reviews and awards, not much I can add other than that I’ve read 30+ books about soldiers in and returning from Vietnam (in fact, I’ve written one myself), and this is very much in line with those stories, albeit in a Sci Fi setting.
I found the telling emotionally flat, but in a weird way that makes it all the more compelling. The tone reminded me of one of the great books from the Vietnam era called Chickenhawk. Chickenhawk is an amazing book — it currently has a 4.8 star rating after 526 reviews. I can’t think of any other book so highly rated after that many reviews. So clearly The Forever War is in good company (as if there was any doubt).
Though the book is a bit dated with its expectations about how quickly technology would advance (which I can’t fault Haldeman for, but it was distracting at times), the pacing felt a bit off and choppy. It felt like it could have been 5% shorter with some tightening up. Interestingly, the most popular “critical review” on Amazon reports that this version is the longer version that loses its punch and becomes a bit of a ramble. I’m no Haldeman expert and have not read the other versions, so I can’t comment on this beyond my own experiences with this version.
Overall, though, it is an engaging and innovative story in the military science fiction cannon. Highly recommended.