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The Forever War

Written by: Joe Haldeman
Narrated by: George Wilson
Length: 9 hrs and 18 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (70 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When it was first published over 20 years ago, Joe Haldeman's novel won the Hugo and Nebula awards and was chosen Best Novel in several countries. Today, it is hailed a classic of science fiction that foreshadowed many of the futuristic themes of the 1990s: bionics, sensory manipulation, and time distortion.

William Mandella is a soldier in Earth's elite brigade. As the war against the Taurans sends him from galaxy to galaxy, he learns to use protective body shells and sophisticated weapons. He adapts to the cultures and terrains of distant outposts. But with each month in space, years are passing on Earth. Where will he call home when (and if) the Forever War ends?

Narrator George Wilson's performance conveys all the imaginative technology and human drama of The Forever War. Set against a backdrop of vivid battle scenes, this absorbing work asks provocative questions about the very nature of war.

©1974 Joe W. Haldeman (P)1999 Recorded Books

What the critics say

  • Hugo Award, Best Novel, 1976
  • Nebula Award, Best Novel, 1975

"A vastly entertaining trip." ( The New York Times)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I don't know how many times I've read it.

I always love this book. good for sci-fi fans, leaves you some to think about.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

really well done!

tremendous performance, the story was good as well, kept me interested and some cool futuristic ideas

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

classic

Classic Sci Fi must read
performance was good
one of the top ten sci fi books of all time

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Perfect, classic SciFi

Read wonderfully. Incredible story. I sometimes doubt why certain books arrive in the upper echelon of lists of the greatest science fiction books of all time. I did not wonder after finishing Forever War.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One of my all time favorites.

Forever War is one of my all time favorite books. Joe Haldeman spins a "hard" science fiction tale exploring the logistics and social impact of a "near future" interstellar war.

This is truly one of the all time greats, in the same vein as, but exceeding, Heinlein's "Starship Troopers"

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

a classic that manages to age mostly gracefully

for it's time, the perspective on homosexuality and gender was revolutionary. I read it originally 20 years ago and it gave me hope. now, reading it, the mild homophobia and sexism stand out more. I wonder if it was specific, to does to the "everyman" so they'd be more receptive to the theme. or just a product of the author's bias. still enjoyable sci fi reminiscent of Ellison, & Heinlein

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Slightly offensive

Story itself wasn’t bad, included some neat details and figurings of future society and science.
However there were numerous offensive sections regarding homosexuality. While sometimes trying to treat it as regular, unupsetting, or sometimes even as the preferred lifestyle, it’s attempts at support came off as even more stereotypical and offensive.
Additionally the reader’s voices of female characters were ALWAYS offensive and erred on constant prissiness even when reading for obviously strong, dominating female characters.

0 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • Vail, AZ, USA
  • 2008-09-24

A classic.

The Forever War is science fiction at its best: A commentary on war cast in a science fiction motif.

Haldeman wrote this specifically as a reaction to the Vietnam War, of which he was a veteran. It is dated a bit, given that it posits the availability of collapsar jump technology in the 1990s, but that's just an interesting plot device, not the point of the book.

One reviewer suggests Starship Troopers as a better alternative. I strongly disagree and believe she has missed the point of The Forever War entirely. Starship Troopers is a lot more like Heinlein's version of Plato's Republic, especially clear if you've read his non-science fiction works. The Forever War is no such animal.

In short, I put The Forever War beside Stranger in a Strange Land and Foundation as the best examples of the science fiction genre and well worth your time to listen. Pure and simple.

70 of 74 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nothing really matters
  • Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • 2015-03-27

The Terrans vs the Taurans, + lots of weird stuff

A fun read. It takes a realistic-feeling approach to the physics of war in space. The politics as well. The characters are refreshingly down-to-earth (no apologies, pun-haters), instead of someone's fantasy of what a cool and macho space warrior should be like.

It's really an amazing book if you take into account that it was written in the 1970s. Until I finished reading it and checked, I had assumed it was written later.

Final note: at double speed, which is how I often listen to fiction, the narrator sounded like Peter Parker from the 1960s Spider-Man cartoon. Funny. I kept waiting to hear him say, 'Wallopping web-snappers!'

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • William
  • Lake Mary, FL, USA
  • 2010-01-04

Holds up very well

I have been rereading some classic science fiction and have found that a lot of it has not aged well. Not the case with this book. It is still fresh and relevant, and does not feel dated at all.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Augusto
  • 2012-03-26

Neat story, Emotionless narrator.

What didn’t you like about George Wilson’s performance?

Lack of emotion, weird inflections. Struggled to finish the story due to the narration.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • SAMA
  • 2013-11-27

Relevant Today

Written in the 1970s, this sci-fi novel is one of the greatest visualizations of space warfare you could find, period. It provides plenty of thought provoking themes, some of which are controversial to most people. Just avoid the sequels, they're rubbish.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • TEGA CAY, SC, United States
  • 2012-10-08

A good read

What did you love best about The Forever War?

Time travel has always been a fascination of mine.

Who was your favorite character and why?

William Mandella of course

What about George Wilson’s performance did you like?

He did a very good job not being mono toned, kept it interesting

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It could have been, you really didn't need a break.

Any additional comments?

Very good SiFi.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • 2018-03-09

Great Story, Terrible Narration

The story was great, although there was a bit too much "hand waving" when it came to the science part of the science fiction.
Despite this, I almost returned the book due too the narration. He had really strange inflections that made every character seem as if they were non-chalant about everything. It's hard to describe, but the audio sample should've been a warning. I will avoid any book he's narrated from now on. Almost as bad as Scott Brick...almost.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Brenden Zapp
  • Lima, Ohio, United States
  • 2013-04-05

Anti-War?...Might be...

"Back in the 20th century they had established-to everyone's satisfaction-that "I was just following orders" was an inadequate excuse for inhuman conduct". But what can you do when the orders come from deep down in that puppet master of the unconscious?"

A story that goes beyond stories. Is what Forever War is.

Homosexuality is used as a means of birth control. Currency takes the form of "Kilo-calories" (K) as the world-at that time-has become dependent upon food consumption and inadequate regulation. Frivolous excursions with accumulated capital. Injury and regeneration. Loss of love. The last campaign of the over 1300 year Forever War; successful due to a "stasis field".

Understandably, there are some very strong insinuations in the novel. But the writing and story are one, how do you say...for the books. I highly recommend this novel, no matter your stance on military actions.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jonathan Love
  • CLEARFIELD, UT, United States
  • 2017-03-16

A Unique Perspective of the Vietnam War Experience

After listening to this book, I was curious about the author and his actual experience as a Soldier. As one myself, I was intrigued at Haldeman's capture of the Soldier's psyche as well as that of the view of civilians after returning from combat. Wikipedia said that he was in fact a Soldier in Vietnam and similarities of names and perspectives ostensibly show that he in fact wrote the book about his experiences both during and after returning from that war.

The story itself probably isn't a retelling of any specific event, but rather some intended hyperbole to facilitate civilians being able to relate to his experience (e.g., vast cultural acceptance and practice of homosexuality within a generation (i.e., future shock) juxtaposed against civilian inability to fully appreciate the horror that the protagonist had experienced).

I compare this book with, Starship Troopers (Heinlein) and Armor (Steakley) as philosophy disguised within science fiction but really trying to expose the psychology of a Soldier's growth into a leader (in the first) and (in the second work) dealing with the repercussions of trauma. All three are required reading for my Soldiers.

The narrator was fine, but his more mature voice was not necessarily representative of the young Mandella (however fine for the senior officer version). Also, it seemed to me that he really pushed the "femmy" tone of the homosexual males. I realize he's trying to paint a stark contrast as pushed forth by the author, but seriously, not all homosexuals talk in a more feminine tone. Related to the tone, but more about the story is how the author portrayed the protagonist as only dealing with the female Soldiers (despite equal mix) except for his male First Sergeant and Commander... missing the entire "brotherhood" of war concept that almost every Soldier experiences (regardless of gender, but this book portrays mostly sexual encounters between the sexes in his earlier years, except with his primary lover in subsequent years). I listen at 3x speed and had no problems with it for this narration.

I highly recommend this book and it will be added to my list of annuals reads/listens.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • S. Jackson
  • Houston, Texas
  • 2015-07-22

Great listen.

Amazing story. Narration was excellent. Kept me glued from start to finish. I highly recommend it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful