The Forever War is an entertaining and thought provoking military science fiction story that explores future warfare and the complicated situations it has a tendency to leave soldiers in. While relatively few years pass from the perspective of William Mandella and his fellow soldiers who are fighting a war light years away in space, multiple centuries worth of time pass on Earth due to time dilation.
While The Forever War includes action packed battles with inventive weapons and other sci-fi tropes that you’re bound to enjoy, the story always brings it back to Mandella’s experience adapting to an ever changing environment off the battlefield. Surviving a skirmish and travelling to the next battlefield may take months worth of time for the soldiers, but several years worth of time has lapsed both on Earth and the enemy Tauran’s home planet. As a result, years worth of research into new battle strategies and weapons occur by the time of the next battle. When new troops arrive as replacements they are essentially from Mandella’s future, and providing leadership comes with new difficulties due to vast cultural discrepancies.
Surviving the war at times seems like a curse for Mandella, as he and the other few veterans have a hard time fitting in on Earth due to the societal changes that develop during the centuries that pass on Earth. Unhappy and unfulfilled through no fault of their own.
The Forever War’s story can be summed up as soldiers giving their lives to go fight on an alien planet, and returning home to another alien planet, and the themes and theorization Haldeman uses to tell The Forever War makes it one of the best science fiction novels that exists today.
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