12 April 2009

The Forever War - Joe Haldeman

You really can't fault a novel with fast-paced action, outstanding social commentary, and sound - if not a bit fanciful - science fiction. I mean this last part in the truest sense; for a novel to accurately qualify as "science fiction", at least in my books, there has to be science to the fiction. It is not simply a breakout activity for school graders who then imagine monsters on some future planet. Science fiction, as I have stated many times on this blog, is about stretching the laws of science (usually physics) to just beyond their understandable limits; this combined with usually scathing social vituperative and a fancy plot, will usually get the author many awards!

In Joe Haldeman's case, these awards were both the Nebula and the Hugo awards for his story on "the Vietnam War" in space. As a combat vet from 'Nam, Haldeman was well place to write a critical fiction on a war that seems to drag on forever, outside of both the soldiers' wishes and the public's patience. When Mandella - the novel's protagonist - returns to Earth after a combat mission against the alien Taurans, he has found that it does not suit his previously held notions. He is forced to chose between a military he resents and an earth he no longer can relate to.

Sitting here in a bar with an asexual cyborg who is probably the only other normal person on the whole godamned planet.

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