Book 4: The Forever War by Joe Haldeman – 265 pages
Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Private William Mandella is a reluctant hero in an interstellar war against an unknowable and unconquerable alien enemy. But his greatest test will be when he returns home. Relativity means that for every few months' tour of duty centuries have passed on Earth, isolating the combatants ever more from the world for whose future they are fighting.
This book comes up on all those ‘greatest sci-fi novels ever’ lists, so some years ago, on one of my sci-fi kicks, I bought a copy. For some reason, I decided to finally read it. The story is set amongst an interstellar war that basically sees soldiers sent across the galaxy to fight an enemy they know little about. The trip, and the impact of relativity, means that one short tour of duty amounts to centuries on Earth. This story is supposed to be some sort of commentary on the Vietnam War, to my mind, both in respect of the leadership who perpetuate the war because they know nothing else, and regarding the isolationism felt by soldiers upon their return to their homes. This is all seen through the eyes of William Mandella, who with tour finds himself further and further removed from anything he had once known, fighting a war that seems less and less like it has any real purpose. It’s an interesting look at the futility of war, the challenges of space travel and our need to belong. Moreover, whilst slow to start, its the kind of story that stays with you upon its conclusion - the kind that makes you wonder how you would cope in the same situation long after you’ve closed the last page.
4 / 50 books. 8% done!
1121 / 15000 pages. 7% done!
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