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Encyclopedia > The Forever War
The Forever War

Cover of first edition (hardcover)
Author Joe Haldeman
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction novel
Publisher St. Martin's Press
Publication date 1974
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 236 pp
ISBN ISBN 0-312-29890-0

The Forever War is a 1974 science fiction novel by Joe Haldeman. It won the Nebula Award in 1975 and the Hugo Award in 1976. Both an action-laden and contemplative story of an interstellar war between humanity and the enigmatic Tauran species, it deals with themes like the inhumanity of both war and its attendant bureaucracy, as well as with the results of time dilation space travel which may cause a soldier to return to his home only after centuries have gone by. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 407 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (607 × 894 pixel, file size: 118 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Low res photo of book cover (The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, 1974 St. ... Joseph William Haldeman is an American science fiction author. ... For other uses, see Country (disambiguation). ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Some notable science fiction novels, in alphabetical order by title: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke 334 by Thomas M. Disch An Age by Brian Aldiss The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton The Atrocity Exhibition by J.G. Ballard... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... Headquartered in the legendary Flatiron Building in New York City, St. ... Hardcover books A hardcover (or hardback or hardbound) is a book bound with rigid protective covers (typically of cardboard covered with cloth, heavy paper, or sometimes leather). ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... “ISBN” redirects here. ... Cover of Volume I, German edition. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... This article is about the literary concept. ... Joseph William Haldeman is an American science fiction author. ... The Nebula is an award given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), for the best science fiction/fantasy fiction published in the United States during the two previous years (see rolling eligibility below). ... The 2005 Hugo Award with base designed by Deb Kosiba. ... In fiction, an interstellar war is a war between combatants whose respective headquarters lie in different star systems. ... Time dilation is the phenomenon whereby an observer finds that anothers clock which is physically identical to their own is ticking at a slower rate as measured by their own clock. ...

There are also two sequels of sorts, Forever Free and Forever Peace (the latter only shares the theme, not the setting), as well as the novella A Separate War which is set in parallel to the latter part of "The Forever War". The three books are considered by some to constitute The Forever War series. It also inspired a comic book and a board game.[1] Forever Free is a science fiction novel by Joe Haldeman and the sequel to The Forever War. ... Forever Peace is a 1997 science fiction novel by Joe Haldeman. ... The Forever War series is a series of science fiction novels by Joe Haldeman which take place over the next thousand years. ... Cover of Volume I, German edition. ...


Plot synopsis

The novel tells the story of William Mandella, a university student conscripted for an elite UN task force being assembled for a war against the Taurans, an alien species discovered when they suddenly attacked human colonists' ships. They are sent out for what might be described as reconnaissance in force, though the politics of revenge are also a major factor in their formation. William Mandella is the main character in Joe Haldemans Forever War series, the protagonist of The Forever War and Forever Free. ... This article is about the United Nations, for other uses of UN see UN (disambiguation) Official languages English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic Secretary-General Kofi Annan (since 1997) Established October 24, 1945 Member states 191 Headquarters New York City, NY, USA Official site http://www. ... Mixed reconnaissance patrol of the Polish Home Army and the Soviet Red Army during Operation Tempest, 1944 Reconnaissance is the military term for the active gathering of information about an enemy, or other conditions, by physical observation. ...

The army recruited for the task is composed of elite recruits; IQs of 150 and above, highly educated and at very high levels of physical health and fitness. The story begins during the training of the first group of recruits. They undergo a grueling training regimen on Earth and later on Charon[2], which results in a number of casualties - mainly due to accidents in hostile environments but also due the use of live weapons in training. The new soldiers then depart for action, travelling via wormhole-like phenomena called 'collapsars' that allow ships to cover thousands of light-years in a split second. However, travelling to and from the collapsars at near-lightspeed has massive relativistic effects. For other uses, see Wormhole (disambiguation). ... Cherenkov effect in a swimming pool nuclear reactor. ... For a less technical and generally accessible introduction to the topic, see Introduction to special relativity. ...

Their first encounter with (unarmed) Taurans on a faraway planet turns into a massacre, with the unresisting enemy base wiped out. Mandella melancholically reflects on how typical the encounter was for humanity's previous record in interaction with other cultures. This first expedition lasted only a few months from the soldier's perspective, but due to time dilation, upon return to Earth many years have passed. On the long way home, the soldiers experience future shock firsthand, as the Taurans employ increasingly advanced weaponry against them while they themselves did not yet have the chance to re-arm. Time dilation is the phenomenon whereby an observer finds that anothers clock which is physically identical to their own is ticking at a slower rate as measured by their own clock. ... Future Shock is a controversial book written by the sociologist and futurologist Alvin Toffler in 1970. ...

Mandella, together with fellow soldier, lover and companion Marygay, initially returns to civilian life, only to find humanity drastically changed. He and his fellow soldiers have difficulty fitting into a future society that has evolved almost beyond their comprehension. The veterans learn that, to curb overpopulation, which led to world-wide food wars, homosexuality has become officially encouraged by the world government. The changes within society alienate Mandella and the other veterans to the point where many re-enlist simply to escape, even though they realize the military is a soulless construct. The inability of the military to treat its soldiers as more than valuable, highly complex machines is a major theme of the story. The Human Race could be: The Human race. ... Map of countries by population density (See List of countries by population density. ... Homosexuality refers to sexual interaction and / or romantic attraction between individuals of the same sex. ... It has been suggested that World Federation be merged into this article or section. ...

Almost entirely through luck, Mandella survives four subjectively experienced years of military service, which time dilation makes equivalent to several centuries of combat and change. He soon becomes the 'oldest' surviving soldier in the war, attaining high rank through seniority, although not from personal ambition (he is portrayed as an eternally reluctant soldier, who acts mostly from natural talent and a melancholic sense of duty). Despite this he is separated from Marygay, who has remained his last contact with the Earth from his youth, by inexorable and impersonal military machinery. As the commanding officer of a 'strike force', Mandella now commands soldiers who speak a language completely unrecognizable to him, whose ethnicity is now nearly uniform, and are exclusively homosexual.

Engaging in combat thousands of light years away from Earth, Mandella and his soldiers need to resort to medieval weapons in order to fight inside a force-field which neutralises all energy weapons and instruments. They battle to survive what is to be the last conflict of the war, which has already officially ended in the meantime. During the time that has since passed on Earth, mankind has begun to employ human cloning, resulting in a new species calling itself Man. Man has developed a means of communication unique and inherent to clones, which allows them to communicate with the Taurans, leading to peace. It turns out the war was a colossal mistake - the Taurans are a naturally clone-based species and could not communicate with the pre-clone humans. Misunderstandings, especially by the trigger-happy humanity, led to the conflict. The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times. ...

Man establishes several colonies of old-style, heterosexual humans, just in case the evolutionary change proves to be mistake. Mandella travels to one of these colonies, named 'Middle Finger' (instead called 'Index' (possibly for index finger) in some of the graphic novel adaptions). There he is reunited with Marygay, who had been discharged much earlier and had intentionally used time dilation to age at a much slower rate, hoping and waiting for Mandella's return. The epilogue is a news item from the year 3143 announcing the birth of a "fine baby boy" to Marygay Potter-Mandella. The Index finger The index finger, pointer finger or forefinger is the second digit of a human hand, located between the thumb and the middle finger. ...

Many years afterwards, Haldeman, at the request of Robert Silverberg, wrote Marygay's first-person account of her time of separation from Mandella. It included not only the military details but also the difficulty of coping as a lone heterosexual woman with a society where same-sex relations are the inflexible norm - which was included as the title story in the collection A Separate War (2006). Haldeman commented that "it was fun to write her story, both as a bridge to the sequel (Forever Free) and as an oblique commentary on The Forever War, twenty years later".[citation needed] At the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow, August 2005 Robert Silverberg (January 15, 1935, Brooklyn, New York) is a prolific American author best known for writing science fiction, a multiple winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. ... Forever Free is a science fiction novel by Joe Haldeman and the sequel to The Forever War. ...

Significance and criticism

The novel is widely perceived to be a portrayal of the author's military service during the Vietnam War, and has been called an account of his war experiences written through a 'space opera' filter.[3] Other hints of the autobiographical nature of the work are the protagonist's surname, 'Mandella', which is a near anagram of the author's surname, as well as the name of the lead female character, Marygay Potter, which is nearly identical to Haldeman's wife's maiden name. Importantly, if one accepts this reading of the book, the alienation experienced by the soldiers on returning to Earth - here caused by the time dilation effect - becomes a clear metaphor for the reception given to US troops returning to America from Vietnam. He also subverts typical space opera clichés (such as the heroic soldier influencing battles through individual acts) and "...demonstrates how absurd many of the old clichés look to someone who had seen real combat duty. His writing is blunt, earthy, and anti-heroic."[3] Combatants Republic of Vietnam United States Republic of Korea Thailand Australia New Zealand The Philippines National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam Democratic Republic of Vietnam People’s Republic of China Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea Strength US 1,000,000 South Korea 300,000 Australia 48,000... Classic pulp space opera cover, with the usual cliché elements. ... For the game, see Anagrams. ...

It was also considered to be a response to Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers, a book with a similar setting, often considered pro-military. However, there is some debate as to what actual degree the novel can be considered a critical response of Heinlein's. For his part, Haldeman has played down this claim in several interviews, even going as far as to praise Heinlein's work on its own merits and consider him one of his favorite authors.[4] There are also certain profound differences between the two novels. Whereas the characters in Starship Troopers were all volunteers, the characters in The Forever War were conscripts (Heinlein had stated his opposition to conscription on several occasions). Both men considered each other friends.[citation needed] It is also worth noting that in August of 2003, Haldeman was elected by unanimous vote to the board of directors for the Heinlein Society.[5][6] Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of hard science fiction. ... For other uses, see Starship Troopers (disambiguation). ... The Heinlein Society was founded by Virginia Heinlein on behalf of her husband, science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein, to pay forward the legacy of the writer to future generations of Heinleins Children. ...



The Forever War was published as a serial in Analog Magazine before its first book publication in 1974. Since then, many editions of The Forever War have been published. Editions published prior to 1991 were abridged for space by the original editor (omitting the middle section, a novella titled You Can Never Go Back). These early paperback editions have "a white cover showing a man in a spacesuit with a sword, with symbolic clocks all around," according to the author, with alternatively the first hardcover edition featuring a large hourglass with planets falling through it. Astounding Stories was a seminal science fiction magazine founded in 1930. ...

The 1991 edition restored many expurgated sections, primarily dealing with the changes that befall human civilization over the course of William Mandella's life. This version's cover "has a futuristic soldier who looks like Robin Williams in a funny hat," as Haldeman notes, "But alas, not all of the changes got in, and the book has some internal contradictions because of things left over from the [earlier version]." For other persons named Robin Williams, see Robin Williams (disambiguation). ...

In 1997, Avon published the version that Haldeman called "definitive," with "everything restored" and "a less funny cover illustration."[citation needed] This version was republished twice, first in October 2001 as a hardback with a cover showing spaceships in battle over a planet, and again in September 2003, with the cover art depicting a device worn over the eye of a soldier.

In 1999 it was republished by Millennium, an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, as part of the SF Masterworks series. It featured as the first novel re-printed in the series, and the cover features a close-up of Marygay Potter with soldiers and spaceships in the background. This is the same version as the 1997 Avon publication and features the same Author's Note. The Orion Publishing Group Ltd. ...

In 2006 an omnibus edition containing the books Forever War, Forever Free and Forever Peace was published by Gollancz. The front cover depicts an alien planet with a futuristic gun stuck barrel down into the ground with a smashed spacesuit helmet placed on top of the gun. The author's note at the start of the book describes the edition as containing the definitive versions. Gollancz is a major British book publishing house of the twentieth century. ...

Cover gallery

Graphic novel

Belgian comic writer Marvano has, in cooperation with Haldeman, created a graphic novel trilogy of The Forever War. With some very minor changes and omissions to storyline and setting, it faithfully adapts the same themes in visual style. The series was translated into various languages, and had a follow-up trilogy connected to Forever Free. Cover of Volume I, German edition. ... Mark van Oppen, better known as Marvano, is a Belgian comic artist. ... Trade paperback of Will Eisners A Contract with God (1978), often mistakenly cited as the first graphic novel. ... Forever Free is a science fiction novel by Joe Haldeman and the sequel to The Forever War. ...

See also

Return from the Stars (Polish: ) is one of the better known science fiction novels of Stanisław Lem, the most famous Polish science-fiction author. ... The title given to this article is incorrect due to technical limitations. ...


  1. ^ Forever War, the (1983) (database entry from the BoardGameGeek website).
  2. ^ Charon here refers not Pluto's moon (undiscovered at the time), but to a hypothetical planet beyond Pluto's orbit.
  3. ^ a b Joe Haldeman (author profile at the 'media in transition' project of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  4. ^ Frequently Asked Questions (from Joe Haldemans private website)
  5. ^ Joe Haldeman joins Heinlein Society Board (from the heinleinblog, Friday 15 August 2003)
  6. ^ The Heinlein Society Board of Directors (from the Heinlein Society website, Retrieved 2007-04-29)
Preceded by
The Dispossessed
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Nebula Award for Best Novel
Succeeded by
Man Plus
by Frederik Pohl

Screenshot of the BoardGameGeek entry for Settlers of Catan. ... Charon (shair-ən or kair-ən (key), IPA , Greek Χάρων), discovered in 1978, is, depending on the definition employed, either the largest moon of Pluto or one member of a double dwarf planet with Pluto being the other member. ... “MIT” redirects here. ... Joseph William Haldeman is an American science fiction author. ... The Heinlein Society was founded by Virginia Heinlein on behalf of her husband, science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein, to pay forward the legacy of the writer to future generations of Heinleins Children. ... The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia is a 1974 utopian science fiction novel by Ursula K. Le Guin, set in the same fictional universe as that of The Left Hand of Darkness (the Hainish Cycle). ... Ursula Kroeber Le Guin [ˌɜɹsələ ˌkɹobɜɹ ləˈgWɪn] (born October 21, 1929) is an American author. ... Winners of the Nebula Award for Best Novel. ... See also: 1974 in literature, other events of 1975, 1976 in literature, list of years in literature. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Frederik George Pohl, Jr. ...

The Forever War series
The Forever War (1974) | Forever Peace (1997) | Forever Free (1999)
Hero | We Are Very Happy Here | You Can Never Go Back | This Best of All Possible Worlds | End Game | A Separate War
The Forever War | A New Beginning
Peace and War

  Results from FactBites:
The War of the Worldviews (1466 words)
War, as viewed from the sidelines through the eyes of this veteran, was a noble and necessary enterprise.
In The Forever War, mankind is engaged in a protracted conflict with the vaguely humanoid Taurans.
War, like any aspect of human existence, should be viewed through many lenses, whether it's the cynicism of cyberpunk or the hoo-ah of a Baen mainstay.
The Forever War - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1073 words)
The Forever War is a 1975 Nebula and 1976 Hugo Award winning science fiction novel by Joe Haldeman.
He soon becomes the 'oldest' surviving soldier in the war, attaining high rank through seniority, although not from personal ambition (he is portrayed as an eternally reluctant soldier, who acts mostly from natural talent and a melancholic sense of duty).
The novel is widely perceived to be a portrayal of the author's military experiences during the Vietnam War, although it is set in a science fiction context.
  More results at FactBites »



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