Books: The Forever War

Friday, February 22, 2008

stormtrooper.jpgI finished a book!

The Forever War is one of those military sci-fi books I read so much yet am too embarrassed to discuss with my real friends. Overall I would give it a 7/10, enjoyable but nothing too special. The author knows his physics, especially general relativity, which provides most of the interesting concepts behind this. He also served in the Army during Vietnam and it shows as the main character is painfully ostracized from society.

But for me the book really excels when it discusses the time-dilation effects of an interstellar war. The first veterans arrive back on Earth after a single skirmish thirty years after they left, but only two years from their perspective. Enemy reinforcements will unexpectedly arrive with equipment decades ahead of what the humans have, or show up to fight with weapons almost a century out of date. Soldiers are sent to worlds so distant and numerous that they often don’t even bother naming them.

There are other topics explored such as conscription, military sociology and culture, eugenics, and the economics of war. Interesting quirks in the world described are heavy drug use and fraternization, but he was a college student in the sixties so what can you do? It’s not as philosophically deep as Starship Troopers (the empirical standard to measure these stories by) but still fun. It took me about 12 hours to jog through it.

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