In this video, Joe Haldeman discuses the story behind his Hugo- and Nebula-, Loucus-, and World Fantasy Award-winning science fiction classic, The Forever War
When I was in high school, I devoured Ender’s Game and Starship Troopers, but it wasn’t until I’d left graduate school that someone forced me to read The Forever War. Since going back to it, I’ve found that it’s a book that’s grown on me each time I read it. It’s certainly one of the best SF novels that I’ve ever read.
Over on Kirkus Reviews, I’ve gone and taken a look at the background of the novel. Go read Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War.
In episode 239 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester chats with Multi-Award winning author, and SFWA Grand Master, Joe Haldeman.
REVIEW SUMMARY: It’s easy to understand how this novel won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards when it came out and remains such a highly regarded classic today.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: What begins as a 2 year tour in the military for William Mandella, extends for millennia due to the effects of special relativity associated with fighting in space.
PROS: Clear, concise writing; hard SF; relatable protagonists; interesting worldbuilding; exposition was limited and was worked into the story.
CONS: We’ve already passed the book’s future.
BOTTOM LINE: If you haven’t read this yet, you should. And if you’re hesitant to read hard SF, this is a good introduction to the subgenre.
In episode 123 of the Hugo Nominated SF Signal Podcast, Andrew Liptak takes the helm to chat with Myke Cole, Joe Haldeman and David J. Williams about military science fiction.
Joe Haldeman was born in Oklahoma but has lived in Puerto Rico, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Alaska. Married since 1965 to Gay, they are frequently encountered at Conventions around the country. Haldeman has a BS in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Maryland and served as a combat engineer in the Army in Vietnam after graduation, inspiring War Year, his first novel. In 1975, he received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He now resides in Florida and Massachusetts where he teaches writing at MIT. Haldeman’s most famous novel is The Forever War (1974), inspired by his Vietnam experiences, which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. He later turned it into a series. Haldeman also wrote two of the earliest original novels based on Star Trek the Original Series Planet of Judgment (August 1977) and World Without End (February 1979). In October 2008 it was announced that Ridley Scott will direct a feature film based on The Forever War for Fox. Other Hugo winners include the short stories “Tricentennial” and “None So Blind,” the novella “The Hemingway Hoax” and his novel Forever Peace, a sequel to Forever War, which also won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel. “The Hemingway Hoax,” Forever Peace, Forever War, Camouflage, and the short story “Graves” also won Nebula Awards. His current novel, Earthbound, is the conclusion to a YA cycle, The Marsbound Trilogy. His official website can be found at http://home.earthlink.net/~haldeman/.
SFFWRTCHT: Let’s start with the basics: Where did your interest in Science Fiction and Fantasy come from?
Joe Haldeman: My father bought me and my brother some of the Winston Juvenile sf books when he came back from trips – there was a display of them at National Airport in Washington. Then my 4th-grade teacher caught me reading one of them during class — Rocket Jockey by Philip St. John (Lester Del Rey) – and instead of punishing me, brought me a half-dozen more from her daughter’s collection.
Filmmaker Eric Solstein has uploaded the first two parts of a larger tribute to Science Fiction’s Grand Masters presented at the 2000 SFWA Nebula banquet at the installation of Brian Aldiss. There’s wonderful footage of so many SF legends, including Jack Williamson, Frederik Pohl, Isaac Asimov, James Gunn, William Tenn, Clifford D. Simak, Joe Haldeman, Philip Jos@eacute; Farmer, Norman Spinrad, Damon Knight (for whom the Grand Master Award is now named), Julie Schwartz, Gene Wolfe, Hal Clement, Poul Anderson, Samuel R. Delany, Barry Malzberg and Brian Aldiss.
There’s a longer follow-up video after the break…
REVIEW SUMMARY: Gasp! An un-engaging time travel novel!
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Down-and-out MIT lab assistant Matt Fuller discovers a device that travels forward in time.
PROS: A promising premise of the “time travel observer” variety.
CONS: So much wasted potential; lackluster characters.
BOTTOM LINE: Ultimately un-engaging.
Time Travel is one of my favorite science fiction subgenres and has perhaps given me some of the greatest thrills, partly because there are so many approaches authors take to engage the reader. There are “observer” stories like H.G. Well’s classic The Time Machine. There are stories that wrap your mind in a time loop like Robert A. Heinlein “All You Zombies“. There are those that confront the paradox like Isaac Asimov’s The End of Eternity. There are the thrill rides of John Varley’s book Millennium and the mind-bending plots of the film Timecrimes. More recently, Jack McDevitt’s Time Travelers Never Die was an enjoyable piece of fiction that nicely utilized the time travel trope.
The less enjoyable stories (in any genre) are the ones that don’t engage the reader at all. And that was my experience with Joe Haldeman’s time travel novel The Accidental Time Machine.
Joe Haldeman, author of The Forever War, Camouflage, The Accidental Time Machine and Marsbound (among others), has been named as the 2010 recipient of SFWA‘s highest honor: the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master.
[Updated] Press release follows: