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2ManyTacos
04-01-2015, 05:36 PM
Note: I'm not a big reader outside of mandatory stuff that I read for school. The last fiction novel that I read on my own was BioShock: Rapture (http://www.amazon.com/BioShock-Rapture-John-Shirley/dp/0765324857/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1427926415), which, given the fact that I have a fucking BioShock TATTOO on my forearm, didn't surprise many people at the time. :p

That said, I've been on a sort of book kick lately, & The Forever War was one of the novels that I just ordered.

In one of my classes that just ended, one of the assigned readings was Joe Haldeman's original short story "Hero," which he later expanded into the novel. I was absolutely enthralled with the short story, especially its subtle digs at the Vietnam War, which, at the time he wrote it, Haldeman had just finished fighting in. It's my understanding that The Forever War takes a similar tack - IE, using military sci-fi as a stand-in for VW criticism - in order to broadly depict its narrative.

I obviously haven't read it yet, so don't go too heavy on the spoiler talk. That said, for those who've read it, what did you think? Did you enjoy it? Why or why not?

Lightray
04-01-2015, 05:48 PM
Haldeman is a good writer, and The Forever War is one of his best. It's a little dated in terms of it's timeline and physics somewhat, but not too jarring if you keep that in mind.

Forever Free seems like it should be a sequel, but it isn't. Although it revisits some of the same themes. Forever Peace actually is a sequel, and it starts off interesting then goes completely off the rails.

Habeed
04-01-2015, 05:53 PM
The Martian is better. Best sci-fi novel I've read in at least 5 years. Sheesh, I'm probably sounding like a shill, but it's that good.

The reason, I'd say, is that it simultaneously has
1. A gripping plot and a well written protagonist
2. It's as hard sci-fi as sci-fi gets. No ray guns here. Most of the events in the book could really potentially happen.

Loach
04-01-2015, 06:07 PM
I met Joe Haldeman at the University of Maryland when I was a student. He gave a reading of the book he was working on (Buying Time maybe?). His brother Jack was there too. I don't remember why at this point. Joe was an alumni of UMD but at the time I believe he worked at MIT.

One thing I remember him mentioning was that when he wrote The Forever War memories of Viet Nam were too vivid for him to write explicit violence. That surprised me because I remembered the book as having good action sequences. I went back and reread it and he was right. The violence was mostly implied and not directly described. There was little or no gore. it takes a lot of talent to gloss over the violence of a war novel and still make the action seem real and immediate.

Exapno Mapcase
04-01-2015, 06:18 PM
You might want to check out the Wikipedia page for The Forever War (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Forever_War#Editions), skipping the plot summary for the Editions section. Apparently, what's being published today is not the same work that was released in the 1970s. A middle section cut for space has been put back and the work has been unexpurgated. I didn't know this - I read the original in 1975 and haven't looked at it since - and I don't know how it affects the value. The big issue is that you can't read a Vietnam book today like I read it in 1975, when the war had just ended and had been the center of my political existence for six years.

The Forever War is Haldeman's career. Is there another Grand Master level writer still working whose career is so identified with one book? How many people can name another novel of Haldeman's outside the series? He's a very good writer, no question, but most of his better output has been short fiction. And he was lucky, as well. 1975 was a weak year for the field, allowing him to sweep all the awards. The publication date of the book is officially January 1975, but it was available in 1974 and some say it should have competed in that year. That would have put it again the award-sweeper, Ursula K. LeGuin's The Dispossessed as well as Thomas M. Disch's 334, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick and The Mote In God's Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle. Could it have won over all those? Extremely doubtful. Without any awards it would have been another very good novel just like many others from those glory years for the field. Timing is everything.

DinoR
04-01-2015, 06:19 PM
I remember it as a good if not great book. The digs didn't seem so subtle to me but it's a solid book and interesting take on the challenges of fighting a way at relativistic speeds. The characterization seemed weak to me. It's been a looooong time since I read it though. If you enjoyed the short story I bet you'll like it. I've read both. Since you already bought the book anyway... let us know. :P

RikWriter
04-01-2015, 06:28 PM
I read it a long time ago. I thought it was well written and explored how the world would change over the decades that the combatants were gone, but it's not among those I would consider the best ever.

What Exit?
04-01-2015, 07:34 PM
Forever War was great, I read it back in the early 80s. Though I think it works better if you read Starship Troopers somewhere along the way. I reread it maybe 6 years ago and it wasn't as good but that happens.

terentii
04-01-2015, 07:35 PM
Forever War was great, I read it back in the early 80s. Though I think it works better if you read Starship Troopers somewhere along the way.

Agreed.

CalMeacham
04-01-2015, 07:50 PM
You might want to check out the Wikipedia page for The Forever War (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Forever_War#Editions), skipping the plot summary for the Editions section. Apparently, what's being published today is not the same work that was released in the 1970s. A middle section cut for space has been put back and the work has been unexpurgated. I didn't know this - I read the original in 1975 and haven't looked at it since - and I don't know how it affects the value. The big issue is that you can't read a Vietnam book today like I read it in 1975, when the war had just ended and had been the center of my political existence for six years.

The Forever War is Haldeman's career. Is there another Grand Master level writer still working whose career is so identified with one book? How many people can name another novel of Haldeman's outside the series? .

Heck, I can. I read his books after Forever War as they came out. MIndbridge was an interesting teleportation + telepathy novel -- the only one I ever read thast came up with mathematical formulas governing the teleportation (with graphs and asll). The short story collection All my Sins Remembered. The collection Infinite Dreams and There is no Darkness, co-asuthored with his brother. And I read his two Star Trek novels, done before doing so was quite as formulaic as it later got. I never did read his Worlds trilogy.

I didn't know about the revisions to Forever War. Now I'm going to have to look that up. I do agree that the book was a product of its time.

People have said that this contrasts with Heinlein's Starship Troopers, but they don't say why -- the exo-suit technology seems to be practically identical, as does the setting of high-tech soldiers fighting against an alien enemy. But Forever War is best described as Starship Troopers written AFTER Vietnam. Instead of Heinlein's deep trust and faith in the military, Haldeman writes like a man who's been through the system and sees it as less than perfect, and quite capable of screwing up.




AS couple of years ago I was at a dinner given by the MIT Club, at MIT. Haldeman, who was a Visiting Professor in the Humanities DEpartment at MIT at the time, was the featured speaker. I think I was the only one in the room who'd actually read any of his books, so when the Q&A period came up, and there was an ambarrassing silence, I took it upon myself to ask him about Forever War.

wevets
04-01-2015, 07:54 PM
I read The Forever War maybe 20 years ago, but very much enjoyed it. Hope you will too - I can't really say how it's aged, since it was so long ago, but I thought it was great and still have fond memories of it.

The sequel, not so much, and it can be skipped, but that doesn't detract from the original.

tracer
04-01-2015, 09:00 PM
One point about The Forever War that a lot of its readers miss:

Travel through a collapsar does NOT send you into the future. It is instantaneous. However, collapsars are not ubiquitous throughout space. The nearest collapsar might be light-years from your current position. It takes time to cross those light-years using only normal, sub-light acceleration and deceleration. The main characters keep coming back to a world changed from when they left, not because of collapsar travel per se, but because they're travelling so close to the speed of light for most of their trip that time dilation becomes important.

Chronos
04-01-2015, 09:17 PM
When I read it, my thought was that Haldeman had some talent, but that it needed a great deal of refinement before he'd be able to write anything worthy of the Hugo or Nebula. The book is just clumsy in so many ways. Most glaring is that he apparently has no clue just how short a decade is, and that there's no way that the technological or social changes he posited could conceivably have taken hold as quickly as he has them (the book opens something like 15 years after the year the original short story was written). But there are also inherent contradictions in the premise: The FTL jumps are described as both instantaneous, too short a time to measure, and taking many years (special relativity isn't enough to give him the time dilation effect he wanted, so he dumped most of the excess time on the jumps). And the characters, especially the high brass, are just too stupid to have possibly been able to survive to adulthood: Why in the nine Hells are the suits so perfectly insulated that if your coolant fins are damaged you'll die of heatstroke on Pluto? Why, similarly, are the suit servos so strong that they'll rip your own limbs off? Or the light amplification goggles so bright that they'll literally burn your eyes out? Or, when what's-his-name and their squad try to capture aliens to bring back to the researchers at HQ, what researchers? We've already established that all of the society's high IQs are off on the front lines being used as cannon fodder.

Oh, and there's also a laser cannon late in the book which has a power expressed in "megawatts per second", and any competent SF writer should know better than that.

EDIT:
One point about The Forever War that a lot of its readers miss:

Travel through a collapsar does NOT send you into the future. It is instantaneous. However, collapsars are not ubiquitous throughout space. The nearest collapsar might be light-years from your current position. It takes time to cross those light-years using only normal, sub-light acceleration and deceleration. The main characters keep coming back to a world changed from when they left, not because of collapsar travel per se, but because they're travelling so close to the speed of light for most of their trip that time dilation becomes important.
That might have been a sensible way to set it up, but it's not what Haldeman actually did. The nearest collapsar to Earth is only a couple of months' travel out, at accelerations of only a few g. And he explicitly says that most of the time dilation is due to being in the close vicinity of collapsars.

Exapno Mapcase
04-01-2015, 09:28 PM
Heck, I can. I read his books after Forever War as they came out. MIndbridge was an interesting teleportation + telepathy novel -- the only one I ever read thast came up with mathematical formulas governing the teleportation (with graphs and asll). The short story collection All my Sins Remembered. The collection Infinite Dreams and There is no Darkness, co-asuthored with his brother. And I read his two Star Trek novels, done before doing so was quite as formulaic as it later got. I never did read his Worlds trilogy.
One novel, the rest collections - he was better as short fiction, as I said. Star Trek novels don't count as his. Well, not to me.

People have said that this contrasts with Heinlein's Starship Troopers, but they don't say why
Here's why.
But Forever War is best described as Starship Troopers written AFTER Vietnam. Instead of Heinlein's deep trust and faith in the military, Haldeman writes like a man who's been through the system and sees it as less than perfect, and quite capable of screwing up.
Although it was even more than that. Heinlein venerated a societal system in which the military was a shining exemplar of Americanism. Haldeman - and every other Nam writer this side of Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler - noted that the American system that could develop a Vietnam was itself stinking and the military not merely reflected that but exacerbated it. AFAIK, Heinlein never acknowledged that the military and the America which it represented could ever be anything other than the one he saw in WWII and never understood the distance that put him from his younger audience.

I mean, I was there in Kansas City in 1976 when he was Guest of Honor at Midamerican and faced an audience who practically wanted to carry him on their shoulders every step - and managed to turn the room against him by his attitude. Talk about "Gulf."

That was the world that The Forever War appeared in. Haldeman had cred; Heinlein would have recognized that. But I'm sure that at the time - pre-operation - he didn't recognize why most of its audience read it differently than he did.

CalMeacham
04-01-2015, 10:03 PM
One novel, the rest collections - he was better as short fiction, as I said. Star Trek novels don't count as his. Well, not to me.


Two novels that I read , not counting the Star Trek -- There is no Darkness wasn't a collection.

Plus the Worlds series that I knew of but didn't read. ISFDB lists other novels, but I can't claim to remember them.

RandMcnally
04-02-2015, 06:54 AM
I read it a few years ago and greatly enjoyed it. The science, etc, was less important to me.

What really resonated me was the feeling of "man out of his place" due to his military service. I noticed this feeling when I returned from my two deployments to Iraq. I was only gone 5/6 months at time, but those months are spent in a bubble. Yes, we had tv and the internet, but you still feel separated from the outside world. Going home was always a shock.

Master Wang-Ka
04-02-2015, 08:54 AM
The science is wonky. So's the sociology. The idea that conscripted female soldiers must put out for complete strangers who've been without sex too long is frankly disturbing, and would NOT fly today.

But one of the themes of the book -- the idea of conscription to the point where The Man can simply take your whole life away and use it as They see fit -- 'cuz Patriotism -- is a strong one. It was stronger back when there was a draft. And the book just SCREAMS "Vietnam," for all that there's no black pajamas or rice paddies to be found.

Worth reading.

CalMeacham
04-02-2015, 09:04 AM
The Forever War is Haldeman's career. Is there another Grand Master level writer still working whose career is so identified with one book?

You've surrounded it with qualifiers that reject obvious other candidates, but I do have to point out that plenty of writers are best or essentially only known for one work, often a short story instead of a novel.

So, leaving out the Grand Master Still Writing part, how many people can name another work by Daniel Keyes (Flowers for Algernon/Charly) without looking it up on isfdb? Stanley Weinbaum is basically remembered for a Martian Odyssey. How many folks know the name of even one other story off the top of their heads? How many know he wrote a sequel to Odyssey? How many know he wrote a novel (The Black Flame[/B]? Cordwainer Smith is known for his short stories. He wrote one novel -- Norstrilia

And so on, and so on, [I]ad nauseam. I can keep this up. I'm sure that you can. And Haldeman has turned out other novels, as well as a lot of shorts. So it is with most writers. I don't know the rules of what gets to be famous, and wish I did.


Not to hijack this discussion, but I couldn't let that pass.

Revtim
04-02-2015, 09:13 AM
I read it as a teenager, and it was one of my favorite books at the time. Loved it.

aruvqan
04-02-2015, 09:50 AM
I read it a few years ago and greatly enjoyed it. The science, etc, was less important to me.

What really resonated me was the feeling of "man out of his place" due to his military service. I noticed this feeling when I returned from my two deployments to Iraq. I was only gone 5/6 months at time, but those months are spent in a bubble. Yes, we had tv and the internet, but you still feel separated from the outside world. Going home was always a shock.
mrAru once commented that it was always odd coming home after a long [3 or 4 month] deployment back in the day before instant email on submarines. He was still involved in whatever conversations he was having before they left while those of us on shore had gone on. It remained fresh in his mind because he had time to think about it while we had other people to interact with and all he had was the guys on the sub and their current conversations [we had been discussing whether or not certain friends should have kids or not.]

Elendil's Heir
04-02-2015, 10:41 PM
I've read The Forever War several times over the years and still think it's quite good. I've read most (not all) of Haldeman's other novels and short story collections, and he's definitely not a one-trick pony. Quite a talented writer.

The Forever War sequels don't measure up, however, IMHO, except for "A Separate War" (a short story focusing on what Marygay was up to during Mandella's last mission). It's very good and worth a look for any fan of the original book.

I also recommend John Scalzi's Old Man's War for anyone who enjoyed Starship Troopers and The Forever War. A witty, wry and worthy successor.

RTFirefly
04-02-2015, 11:05 PM
I never did read his Worlds trilogy.Ah, the Worlds 'trilogy.'

Read the first two - Worlds and Worlds Apart comprise a story that, IMHO, is every bit as compelling as The Forever War.

But skip the third. At the end of the second book, it's clear that you've hit the end of the story.

In the intro to a story in one of his short story collections, Haldeman mentions a commitment that a publisher refused to let him out of. I'm convinced that the third book, Worlds Enough and Time, is that commitment - that they'd signed a contract for Haldeman to write a trilogy, but when the story came to a full stop at the end of the second book, the publisher still insisted on the third book.

Nothing's wrong with the third book, it's an OK but perfectly forgettable read, that's all. It's just unnecessary. The story arc of the first two books was over already.

Terminus Est
04-02-2015, 11:11 PM
The science is wonky. So's the sociology. The idea that conscripted female soldiers must put out for complete strangers who've been without sex too long is frankly disturbing, and would NOT fly today.

The most dated concept for me was that you could turn off someone's homosexuality by mental conditioning. It was also implied that the entire populace was turned homosexual by the same sort of mental conditioning.

Chronos
04-03-2015, 10:10 AM
That, and the notion that an entire society could just "go gay", but absolutely not the protagonist, no way no how, he's way too manly for that.

Exapno Mapcase
04-03-2015, 10:49 AM
You've surrounded it with qualifiers that reject obvious other candidates,

I did, and for what I considered to be a good reason.

You are, of course, correct that many other writers in the field are known mostly for one book. But your examples are a minimum of 50 years old, and that was a wholly different era. The rules changed. First in the early 60s when a career in paperback novels became financially feasible, and then again in the 90s when the field became driven by series and short stories are increasingly peripheral.

Grand Master is an honor bestowed by SFWA, the writer's organization. It's flawed in that it only goes to living writers but it's a good first approximation of career appreciation. No one's ever received it at 65 or younger.

The last four after Haldeman are Connie Willis, Gene Wolfe, Samuel Delany, and Larry Niven. While it would require a cruise ship to have enough cabins for their short fiction awards, they are all still mainly known for their novels. Haldeman stands out. And while it's possible that a future Grand Master may not be known for novels - Kate Wilhelm is a possibility but she's 86 - I'm betting it will be rare. The field is now almost purely novel-driven and all the other candidates I can think of are primarily novelists.

That's not quite the same thing as saying that Haldeman didn't write other good novels or that his fans wouldn't know and defend them. I'm talking about that always elusive beastie, public perception.

Dale Sams
04-03-2015, 03:05 PM
That, and the notion that an entire society could just "go gay", but absolutely not the protagonist, no way no how, he's way too manly for that.

Uhhh...he didn't 'go gay' because he was off in deep space/time dilation. It had little to do with him being 'too manly'.

edit: I should also point out that I like Haldeman because he (for me) promptly answers emails.

I've learned "Seasons" holds a special place in his heart, the rights have been picked up but seem to be in limbo. He never watched NuBSG. And he wasn't a fan of his Star Trek novels.

Odesio
04-03-2015, 04:27 PM
That, and the notion that an entire society could just "go gay", but absolutely not the protagonist, no way no how, he's way too manly for that.

They didn't just "go gay" they were manipulated in utero to be homosexual as a method of population control. As a plot device it served to demonstrate that by this point in the story Mandella wasn't just alienated from civilian life but that he had become alienated from the military as well. The men and women under his command thought he was weird, he barely speaks the same language as them, and by the end of the book they hate him.

I tossed down the pan and stood up. "Charlie, you take over the unit coordination; you can do it as well as I could. I'm going topside.

"I wouldn't advise that, sir."

"Hell no, William. Don't be an idiot."

"You wouldn't last ten seconds up there," Charlie said.

"I'll take the same chances as everybody else."

"Don't you hear what I'm saying? They'll kill you!"

"The troops? Nonsense. I know they don't like me especially, but--"

What makes The Forever War a good book is that it isn't just about Vietnam. It's about the alienation that soldiers feel when they come back from just about any war.

Thudlow Boink
04-03-2015, 04:39 PM
I read The Forever War a couple of years ago, mainly because it's one of those "classics" that I thought I ought to read. I liked it okay, but I'm not a big fan of military SF, and I'm a bit too young for the Vietnam stuff to really resonate with me.I also recommend John Scalzi's Old Man's War for anyone who enjoyed Starship Troopers and The Forever War. A witty, wry and worthy successor.The (electronic) edition I have of The Forever War includes a Foreword by Scalzi, in which he discusses how people had trouble believing that he hadn't read The Forever War when he wrote his Old Man's War.

2ManyTacos
04-05-2015, 12:29 AM
The (electronic) edition I have of The Forever War includes a Foreword by Scalzi, in which he discusses how people had trouble believing that he hadn't read The Forever War when he wrote his Old Man's War.

I got this version (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312536631/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) of the novel, and it includes the same forward.

I'm about halfway through it right now, so I'm going to get a bit spoiler-y with a few quick thoughts:

1) The Science - I don't know how "accurate" Haldeman's depiction of science really is in this book, but a lot of it is going over my head, even if I still get the gist of all of the conventions that he has heretofore spelled out.

2) Time Dilation/Relativity - I LOVE this aspect of the novel & broadly think that it's totally fascinating. I'm just getting to the point where Mandella et al. are about to return to Earth after subjectively fighting the Taurans for two years their time, when more than twenty years have passed for human on the home world. I think that this idea in itself lends to a number of fascinating story possibilities, and Haldeman has done a good job of setting that up.

3) Depiction of Homosexuality - Characters in the novel refer to a worldwide encouragement of homosexuality as a means of facilitating global birth control. Terms like "homolife" seem mildly insensitive to me, and are probably indicative of the time that Haldeman assembled his novel. I was born in '91 after all - long after the Vietnam War and all the presiding cultural sensibilities of the '70's - so some of these criticisms might not ring so much for folks who actually lived through the VW era.

4) "Confraternity"/Male-Female Military Pairing - Haldeman describes this future military as being entirely sexually integrated, with conscripted women being required - both by custom and by law - to be promiscuous and unwilling to say "no" to a sexual advance. To be fair, this concept was laid out in the original short story, and it seemed weird to me even then; I can broadly look past it, even if, from a sociocultural POV, this is probably the part of The Forever War which mandates the greatest degree of suspension of disbelief. Again, perhaps this element of the novel is reflective of the Vietnam era in some way, but I just can't imagine such a policy ever being adopted by any military force (let alone any advanced society).

Criticisms aside, however, this novel is quite good IMO & I'll post more as I get further into it. I do return to school soon, though, which will compromise my free time to read in general.

Derleth
04-05-2015, 03:41 AM
Heinlein liked The Forever War so much he shook Haldeman's hand at a con once.

The Forever War is deeply, deeply 1970s, and therefore A Vietnam War Book. It isn't explicitly mentioned, but, at the time, it nobody had to mention it. If your tolerance for period fiction is low, or if you can't stomach social ideas from a past generation, give this one a pass.

That said, it's a well-written novel with an interesting premise the author at least attempts to work within. The narrator is a rare breed, the intelligent man of action who isn't super-competent or even especially bright all the time. If he's a simple self-insert, it should be done more often.

The social themes are of the era, the era being one of *-Lib, where * means "anything you can imagine". The idea of homosexuality becoming not only mainstream but default was meant to be shocking, but so were co-ed dorms and the idea of LSD as a spiritual substance. Confraternity is similarly derived pretty directly from the Sexual Revolution. ("Veterans of the Sexual Revolution: Veni, Veni, Veni") It isn't plausible, perhaps, and the whole idea of trans people was ignored, there as elsewhere, but I give the author some points for trying. He's a credit to his generation. ;)

The twist was in the cards from the beginning, if you ask me, but it was handled well and wasn't made too much of a metaphor.

Chronos
04-05-2015, 09:50 AM
Quoth Odesio:

They didn't just "go gay" they were manipulated in utero to be homosexual as a method of population control.
Maybe in later generations, but the first time he went home, his own mother was one of the ones who had "gone gay".

Elendil's Heir
04-05-2015, 09:43 PM
...Haldeman describes this future military as being entirely sexually integrated, with conscripted women being required - both by custom and by law - to be promiscuous and unwilling to say "no" to a sexual advance....
I don't remember it being legally required, but the same is expected of the men. Early on in the book, just as he's going to bed, Mandella has a pass made at him by a female soldier. He is exhausted and would just as soon go to sleep, but feels obliged to have sex with her.

Sailboat
04-05-2015, 10:48 PM
Also worth noting Heinlein served in the reserves but never saw combat, and Haldeman was wounded in combat, and too a much darker of war.

I've always loved the ending especially. Hell of a way to wrap up the book.

Elendil's Heir
04-06-2015, 08:53 AM
Yes, it is a near-perfect ending.
Both how the war ends, and how Mandella and Marygay get their happy ending..

RTFirefly
04-06-2015, 09:01 AM
I've learned "Seasons" holds a special place in his heart... It should. it's a masterpiece.

Your Great Darsh Face
04-06-2015, 09:50 AM
The most dated concept for me was that you could turn off someone's homosexuality by mental conditioning.

That was possible to clone-Man about a thousand years in the future and it wasn't specified that it was done by mental conditioning. clone-Man just said that many veterans wanted to go straight in order to live better on the colony worlds that had been set aside for them and "this I can do very easily". With a thousand years of medical advancement, it would presumably be perfectly possible to come up with some means of flipping the mental switches that cause a person to be attracted to members of the same sex. clone-Man also observes that for those who want to stay and live alongside the clone-species that they were equally welcome whether they were gay or straight, though in that society sexuality certainly had only play-value.

tl;dr: - in the far future it didn't matter whether you were gay or straight, but if you wanted to change from one orientation to the other, "People keep asking me that question. One shot, two minutes, done and dusted. Now the next order of business..."

Elendil's Heir
04-06-2015, 09:52 AM
I would also particularly recommend Haldeman's Mindbridge, Tool of the Trade, All My Sins Remembered, The Hemingway Hoax and Worlds (but avoid its sequels). His most recent books, The Accidental Time Machine, Old Twentieth and Camouflage, are pretty good but not great, I'd say. His short story collections Dealing in Futures, Infinite Dreams and A Separate War and Other Stories are a little uneven, but far, far more good than bad.

Of his short stories, I particularly liked the aforementioned "Seasons," as well as "Lindsay and the Red City Blues," "More Than the Sum of His Parts" and "For White Hill." You might also look up "Counterpoint," "Armaja Das" and my hands-down, all-time favorite Haldeman short story, "Summer's Lease."

RTFirefly
04-06-2015, 11:13 AM
I would also particularly recommend Haldeman's...Worlds (but avoid its sequels). As you can see upthread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showpost.php?p=18259877&postcount=22), I'm with you on Worlds Enough and Time, but what do you have against Worlds Apart?

BrainGlutton
04-06-2015, 11:17 AM
One thing I remember him mentioning was that when he wrote The Forever War memories of Viet Nam were too vivid for him to write explicit violence. That surprised me because I remembered the book as having good action sequences. I went back and reread it and he was right. The violence was mostly implied and not directly described. There was little or no gore. it takes a lot of talent to gloss over the violence of a war novel and still make the action seem real and immediate.

I've noticed that about Heinlein, too. His battle scenes and fight scenes are never gory.

Elendil's Heir
04-06-2015, 11:52 AM
As you can see upthread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showpost.php?p=18259877&postcount=22), I'm with you on Worlds Enough and Time, but what do you have against Worlds Apart?
It's been years and years, so I'm not sure - I just remember I thought neither sequel was nearly as good as the original.

psiekier
04-09-2015, 02:27 PM
I obviously haven't read it yet, so don't go too heavy on the spoiler talk. That said, for those who've read it, what did you think? Did you enjoy it? Why or why not?

I love the hell out of this book - right up there between Heinlein's Starship Troopers and Steakley's Armor. I'm a sucker for anything good with heroes in powered armour.

The part that was excised from the middle - but restored in later editions - involves some side trips that William and Marygay make while on shore leave together on Earth. William interrupts a rape-in-progress while they are in London, and meets Marygay's parents on an agricultural collective in the American midwest. I seem to recall this piece being available in one of his collections if you got stuck with an edition that leaves it out.

It would take a mighty effort in time and/or money to collect, but there's a graphic adaption of The Forever War by the Belgian illustrator Marvano that appeared in Heavy Metal and (later) Cheval Noir. It's pretty faithful to the original - Haldeman himself liked it - and it is very enjoyable to read.

Forever Free seems like it should be a sequel, but it isn't. Although it revisits some of the same themes. Forever Peace actually is a sequel, and it starts off interesting then goes completely off the rails.
You got the titles backwards, Lightray. Forever Free is the sequel to The Forever War. But I know what you meant, and I whole-heartedly agree with your sentiments.

I'd like to see Forever Peace made into a movie, provided they don't call it Soldierboyz and cast L.L. Cool J as Julian Class.

I've learned "Seasons" holds a special place in his heart, the rights have been picked up but seem to be in limbo. He never watched NuBSG. And he wasn't a fan of his Star Trek novels.

I loved "Seasons" as well. I think adapting it with anything less than an R rating would take too much out of the story.

Elendil's Heir
04-09-2015, 02:31 PM
...It would take a mighty effort in time and/or money to collect, but there's a graphic adaption of The Forever War by the Belgian illustrator Marvano that appeared in Heavy Metal and (later) Cheval Noir. It's pretty faithful to the original - Haldeman himself liked it - and it is very enjoyable to read....
I got the first volume of it through Amazon awhile back, but it's all in Dutch, I think. Couldn't find an English translation. Nice artwork, though.

...I loved "Seasons" as well. I think adapting it with anything less than an R rating would take too much out of the story.
Definitely.

2ManyTacos
04-12-2015, 10:50 PM
I had a super long & thought out post that got lost when the SDMB signed me out. So, rather than rewrite everything, here's some final thoughts on the novel now that I've read it:

1) In the context of the entire novel, "Hero" seems out of place, given that it introduces a bunch of ideas which are abandoned as the narrative goes on.

2) I thought that Haldeman's commentary on homosexuality was weird & I don't really know what to make of it. Perhaps it makes more sense to people who lived through the '70's.

3) The hard sci-fi stuff (especially the elements dealing with time dilation & relativity) was absolutely fascinating. I could've read an entire book based around those ideas (and sans the aforementioned commentary) & been perfectly satisfied.

4) The ending was great.

I said a helluva lot more in my original post, but it got lost in the SDMB ether. Oh well, c'est la vie.

psiekier
04-12-2015, 11:32 PM
1) In the context of the entire novel, "Hero" seems out of place, given that it introduces a bunch of ideas which are abandoned as the narrative goes on.
Mandella doesn't want to be a hero. He was conscripted. He'd really rather get out, but where would he go? The ending explains that question, of course!

2) I thought that Haldeman's commentary on homosexuality was weird & I don't really know what to make of it. Perhaps it makes more sense to people who lived through the '70's.
I think Haldeman picked homosexuality as something we could all identify, understand, and relate to - whether it's one's lifestyle, something merely tolerated, or absolutely revolting - it would be hard to find someone who doesn't have a fairly strong opinion about it. But if you came back from a tour of duty - be it in The 'Nam or on Charon - and suddenly everybody back home was homosexual except you, you'd feel pretty out of place too, wouldn't you?

3) The hard sci-fi stuff (especially the elements dealing with time dilation & relativity) was absolutely fascinating. I could've read an entire book based around those ideas (and sans the aforementioned commentary) & been perfectly satisfied.
Watch Gunbuster. If you can make it past the first episode, I bet you will love the hell out of it!

4) The ending was great.
If you're assigned to protect the stasis field, don't forget your sword! ;)

psiekier
04-13-2015, 01:40 PM
3) The hard sci-fi stuff (especially the elements dealing with time dilation & relativity) was absolutely fascinating. I could've read an entire book based around those ideas (and sans the aforementioned commentary) & been perfectly satisfied.

Watch Gunbuster. If you can make it past the first episode, I bet you will love the hell out of it!
Here's a taste. The First Gunbuster Science Lesson (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dhf799kAUSg) (humourous but informative pieces that come in between the OVA episodes, of which there are six) explains a bit about faster-than-light travel in the universe in which Gunbuster takes place. The "Tannhaeuser Gate" sounds like it functions an awful lot like Haldeman's "collapsars", although it's actually a nod to Roy Batty's soliloquy in Blade Runner.

Dendarii Dame
04-13-2015, 05:43 PM
I read it many years ago. I thought it was okay, but nothing special.

RTFirefly
04-13-2015, 08:32 PM
It's been years and years, so I'm not sure - I just remember I thought neither sequel was nearly as good as the original.Part of my attitude may be the fact that I discovered Worlds and Worlds Apart ca. 1990, so I got to read them as a single story. (They were published in 1981 and 1983, respectively.)

(The cover of my copy of Worlds says "Beginning a major SF trilogy" under the title, and for awhile in that pre-Web era, I searched in vain for the third book, before realizing (a) there wasn't one, and (b) the story was complete as it was. And after both of those realizations had started to sink in, the third book came out.)

And the thing is, Worlds Apart isn't a sequel anymore than Return of the Jedi is, because Worlds, and The Empire Strikes Back, both end at places where the story clearly isn't, can't be, at an end - they're your classic cliffhangers, really. And just like people argue over whether Jedi is a worthy conclusion to the Star Wars trilogy, or a bit of a disappointment, one can argue that Worlds Apart isn't as strong an ending as Worlds was a beginning. (I'd disagree, but there are viable arguments on both sides.)

But it's not a sequel.

Worlds Enough and Time, though, damned sure is. The end of Worlds Apart is the end of the story that started in Worlds. The third book may call itself the conclusion of a trilogy, but that's true in name only. It's strictly a sequel.

For those who haven't read Worlds etc., one of the reasons I'm so passionate about it is that, at least IMHO, the element of separation that Haldeman uses so well in The Forever War - well, IMHO, he uses it to even greater effect here, even though this time the gulf between the torn-apart lovers is merely space, and not centuries of time, as it was for Mandella and Marygay.

But you can read it yourselves, and make up your own minds.

The Devil's Grandmother
04-14-2015, 12:37 PM
Maybe in later generations, but the first time he went home, his own mother was one of the ones who had "gone gay".

Mom hadn't gone gay. She'd been conditioned to accept living in very small spaces/shared housing, and later she is the example of the society's indifference to it's non-productive members.
Or at least, if she was gay I missed it.

Lightray
04-14-2015, 01:05 PM
His mom mentions she has a girlfriend, who has absented herself so as to not make Mandella uncomfortable.

Mama Zappa
04-17-2015, 12:00 AM
....Forever Peace actually is a seque...
Actually, it is NOT a sequel. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Forever_War_series).

psiekier
04-17-2015, 10:11 AM
The part that was excised from the middle - but restored in later editions - involves some side trips that William and Marygay make while on shore leave together on Earth. William interrupts a rape-in-progress while they are in London, and meets Marygay's parents on an agricultural collective in the American midwest. I seem to recall this piece being available in one of his collections if you got stuck with an edition that leaves it out.
Found it! "You Can Never Go Back" appears as part of Haldeman's Dealing in Futures (www.amazon.com/Dealing-Futures-Joe-W-Haldeman/dp/B00071HTSI) collection, which also begins with the aforementioned (and quite excellent) short story Seasons.

Actually, it is NOT a sequel. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Forever_War_series).
Yep, we covered that (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=18276761#post18276761).

The Tooth
05-05-2016, 10:51 PM
You've surrounded it with qualifiers that reject obvious other candidates, but I do have to point out that plenty of writers are best or essentially only known for one work, often a short story instead of a novel.

A Canticle for Leibowitz comes to mind.

Just Asking Questions
05-06-2016, 02:25 PM
It should. [Season]'s a masterpiece.

I reread it, on the strength of the comments in this thread.

I have to say, I don't get it. Don't know what it is I can't see. It's an OK story, but to me not a masterpiece. It just sort of gives up at the end. Then, in the the epilog, the struggles of the characters gets turned into a movie. How very meta, Mr Author. Seemed like a long way to go just to sort of make a poke at the reader. (And I thought the epilog of All My Sins Remembered was perfect.)

I guess I wanted answers, but it wasn't an answer-giving type of story.

Algher
05-06-2016, 03:16 PM
Agreed.

Forever War
Starship Troopers
Enders Game

I consider those to be the core books of the military sci-fi "must read" list.

I loved all 3, and will re-read at times.

E-DUB
05-06-2016, 03:47 PM
FW was largely written as a response to "Starship Troopers".

Dale Sams
05-06-2016, 05:01 PM
I reread it, on the strength of the comments in this thread.

I have to say, I don't get it. Don't know what it is I can't see. It's an OK story, but to me not a masterpiece. It just sort of gives up at the end. Then, in the the epilog, the struggles of the characters gets turned into a movie. How very meta, Mr Author. Seemed like a long way to go just to sort of make a poke at the reader. (And I thought the epilog of All My Sins Remembered was perfect.)

I guess I wanted answers, but it wasn't an answer-giving type of story.

What wasn't answered? You know what happened to the crew. And the fate of the planet creatures is their exposure to a superior race sealed their fate one way or another.


Which is why in Star Trek they shouldn't even be using blinds to study people on planets, or surgically altered people to infiltrate. The dangers are too great if it's the PRIME Directive.

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