Review of The Forever War (1974)


Joe Haldeman (writer).

Read in 2019.

The culture shocks are delicious. They start out as the naïve futurology of the time of writing: The Ehrlichs’ overpopulation and the Club of Rome’s resource constraints meet the urban decay of the 1970s. That stuff has not changed from Stand on Zanzibar (1968). The long-term extrapolations are wonderfully bizarre, but even so, this is military SF with lots of gadgets and brief but spectacular action, not an indictment of the genre. Just like in Starship Troopers (1959), there’s psychic powers and awesome suits, controlled by waldos, a term Heinlein invented. It’s even got a pair of star-crossed lovers. The woman in that pair concludes, apropos of relativistic time dilation, “If I can’t be your lover, I’ll be your nurse.” Such a case of men writing women would not have looked out of place in Time Enough for Love (1973).

References here: The Ballad of Halo Jones (1984), Ender’s Game (1985/1991), The Postman (1985), Gunbuster: Aim for the Top! (1988), “Up the Long Ladder” (1989), Starship Troopers (1997), Final Space (2018).

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