Forever Warring

I read the Forever War a month-or-two-ish ago and shared a few comments. Although it’s no longer fresh in my mind, I’d like to mention some further thoughts before it all fades beyond recall or desire!

*Spoilers Ahoy*

In a lot of ways Haldeman’s military scifi story reminded me of Starship Troopers. Ironically, though a lot of Heinlein’s work is often weirdly sexualized, I don’t remember Starship Troopers suffering from this problem. I say “ironically” because Forever War does include quite a bit of sexuality.

It didn’t turn me off as much as, say, Glory Road’s sexual stuff did. Maybe this is because in Forever War it seems more intended to serve the story rather than to satisfy some lewd dream of the author.

It was quite shocking, especially considering this was written in the 70’s and not in 20XX.

Eventually everyone on earth is gay and the protagonist and other old war fossils like him are the deviants. Quite a turn. Wonder how far off from reality, though.

Later on he finds even his mother has gone gay. You can see this stuff bothers him, but part of me wanted to see the reaction of a normal, red-blooded soldier without all the hippie “tolerance.” I imagine things would have gotten more explosive and probably not gone so well for him.

An interesting, though somewhat wonky, concept is the idea of a global economy based on calories (k) as currency. There area few points where Haldeman goes back and forth between calories and dollars, so that is a little inconsistent.

Look, Apple Pay!

Ah taxes.

The most chilling part of the story is the result of socialized healthcare operating with limited resources. People become numbers.


Well, the story wraps up on a happier note. The war, it turns out, was all based upon a (silly?) misunderstanding! Now the glorious clone empire reigns supreme, and all it wants is to make everyone happy!

Eh, at least the main guy (I’m not sure if he’s a hero) gets the girl in the end.

Not exactly an uplifting read, but there’s a lot to appreciate here, if even just the eerily prescient-seeming dystopian notes it hits.




7 thoughts on “Forever Warring

    1. Gone too long. The whole point of the “forever” war is that because of time dilation dozens if not hundreds of years pass while you are on each deployment.

      I believe Forever War was a direct reaction to Starship Troopers (and Vietnam, where Haldeman served as a combat engineer). There are at least three major books that are reactions to Starship Troopers by my count–Forever War, Bill the Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison, and Old Man’s War by Scalzi. I’ve only read Forever War. I really want to do a series and cover all four (and the Starship Troopers movies) at some point.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh man, Bill the Galactic Hero. What a grand farce that was! I hope you can enjoy it.

        I really liked Starship Trooper, probably because I didn’t even try to analyze this, that or the other and just let it be a military story. Even if Heinlein WAS trying to say something, I find him a better author when I ignore him ;-)

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yeah, that’s kind of what I got from it, when I think about what he was trying to say. You go away to war, and everything changes. Difficult or impossible to return and resume a normal life.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Forever War and Starship Troopers do make for an interesting conversation if read together. Old Man’s War doesn’t have anything to add to that conversation. I’d suggest Armor instead.

        Liked by 2 people

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