The Forever War – A Spoiler Free Review

It’s a gut wrenching novel . . . you should read it!

The Forever War is a Military Sci-Fi/Space Opera published in 1974 and written by Joe Haldeman.

It follows William Mandella, a man conscripted for his high education and aptitude to be among the first soldiers sent to fight the Taurans. The Taurans are an interstellar race that humanity believes has attacked their colony efforts.

What follows is a visceral and emotional tale told from William’s perspective. He trains with his unit, travels the stars to battle alien threats, and temporarily returns home to an indifferent Earth before rejoining the fray.

It should be noted that the author himself states this novel is a reflection of his time in the Viet Nam War. His take on the pained futility of conflict bleeds through his writing quite beautifully.

The part that captured my heart was when William originally returned to Earth. Due to the nature of time dilation, William finds himself torn from his family and loved ones with each tour of duty. Not only does he lose friends in the horrors of a pointless and propaganda fuelled war, but he also loses the people he leaves behind as they quite literally live their lives without him.

The novel swings from depressing to truly heartbreaking, but Haldeman manages to dangle just enough hope in front of you to keep you wanting more. You find yourself desperate to see if William survives and manages to live a life despite everything that has been ripped from him.

The novel doesn’t focus solely on Sci-Fi “pew pew” battles—even though they are there in force—instead the human element of the story is what keeps you reading. When the action does rear its head, Haldeman skilfully uses the concepts and technology of the setting to generate thrilling sequences of tension and conflict. The final battle I found particularly engaging, the method of combat becomes so advanced that the soldiers are forced to resort to the only inevitable means of destruction (which, I will not spoil here).

I will warn you that the story is quite graphic, not just in terms of violence, but also in its sexual explicitness, and even with the emotional toll it takes on you at times. So I would not recommend this as a light read.

But I would definitely recommend you pick yourself up a copy if you haven’t read this masterpiece yet. You can check it out here: LINK

Just so you know how much I like this novel, it actually inspired one of my books – Solar Rain – which you can get for free right here on my site 😀

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