Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Forever War

I've just reacquainted myself with Joe Haldeman's anti-war sci-fi classic The Forever War. First published in 1974 the book tells the story of William Mandella, one of the first conscripted troops to be trained and thrown at an alien race the expansionist human race has encountered unimaginable distances from Earth. After his first tour of duty, lasting two years, Mandella returns to Earth to a home that has advanced by a decade due to the relativistic nature of long distance space travel. The alienation and disconnection with the world he returns to echoes Haldeman's own experiences of returning home from his tours in Viet Nam. As more time passes, Mandella becomes more divorced from the human race as a whole, compounding the meaningless of conflict to preserve a race he no longer identifies with. It's all cleverly written, leading the reader to consider the nature of war and man's relation to it. He explodes the glorification of war and all its cliches one by one, bringing the act of war down to something mechanical with its human components as mere specialised cogs in the machine. The book won the Nebula, Hugo & Locus awards which is no mean feat considering the hot bed of sci-fi talent operating when The Forever War first appeared. Ridley Scott is said to be interested in bringing the book to the big screen.

No comments:

Post a Comment