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Publisher's Summary

Drawing on his own war experiences, Vietnam veteran Joe Haldeman creates stunning works of science fiction. Forever Peace is not a sequel to his previous award-winning work, The Forever War, but it deals with similarly provocative issues. When it was published, Forever Peace was chosen as the Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly. It also won the coveted Hugo Award.

War in the 21st century is fought by "soldierboys". Remote-controlled mechanical monsters, they are run by human soldiers who hard-wire their brains together to form each unit. Julian is one of these dedicated soldiers, until he inadvertently kills a young boy. Now he struggles to understand how this has changed his mind.

Forever Peace is a riveting portrayal of the effects of collective consciousness, and it offers some tantalizing revelations. Narrator George Wilson's skillful performance weaves together the elements of futuristic technology with the drama of a trained soldier reconciling basic human needs.

©1997 Joe Haldeman (P)2000 Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

  • Hugo Award, Best Novel, 1998
  • Nebula Award, Best Novel, 1998

"At once a hard science, military, and political thriller, this book presents a thoughtful and hopeful solution to ending war in the 21st century. Essential for sf collections." (Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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  • Overall

Good, but not as good as The Forever War

In terms of sheer writing skill, and the ability to portray the raw tragedy, loneliness, and emptiness of being a soldier, Joe Haldeman is without equal. This book is melancholy, depressing, and despairing. It is not, however, as good as The Forever War, and in fact has no relation to that epochal work.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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'Walk a mile in their shoes' Syndrome

This book is a spiritual, if not narrative, sequel to Haldeman’s 1975 “Forever War”. Both novels won the Hugo & Nebula, and explore the theme of war’s futility, although from different perspectives and in separate story-worlds. Readers expecting a continuation of Forever War’s interstellar conflict or relativistic time dilation effects, will see that instead this story features a strictly terrestrial struggle between the wealthy nations, fueled by effortless nano-factory produced plenty, and the struggling excluded masses. The earlier novel, written in the immediate post-Vietnam days of an antagonistic welcome for returning veterans, further exaggerated the alienation of the protagonist with a fish-out-of-water situation that placed the character hopelessly out of touch with his own century. Here, in the 1998 novel, one senseless war is supplanted by an invisible one to end all wars, as the protagonist discovers a pacification treatment that involves sharing one of the military’s tightest-held tools with all of humanity to bring individuals together into a community incapable of violence outside of self-defense. Haldeman uses SF technology as vehicle to explore the age-old thought that ‘if we only walked in our enemies shoes for a day’. At the same time, the greatest opponent to this peace movement is one of religious zealots who inexplicably seem to want death and destruction for its own sake. I felt that not enough insight was given to their internal motivation, even when the narrative was told in first person perspective of one these characters. This left them a bit too archetypical and cartoon-evil for me. On the human-scale drama of this story, there is a compelling relationship that is shown conquering the challenges of race, age, military-civilian differences, then ‘jacked’ vs natural minds until it is thoroughly proven to be unshakable. There are also some notable thriller scenes and a number of high-tech asymmetric warfare scenes as well. Absent, sadly, are any aliens or Space Opera tropes or any references to advanced climate change expected over the coming century (CliFi).

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Both entertaining & exploring interesting subjects

While the story is entertaining, the novel brushes on a lot of interesting subjects: what would a society where everything was virtually free be, what would it feel to know what's going on another person's head, will next humanity step be engineered evolution...
All of these subjects spice the story. One of these novels that make you think about possible futures.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great Speculative Fiction!

Great philosophy and speculation regarding the future of science and humanity! Haldeman writes in the tradition of all the great, serious, science fiction authors who were actually seriously contemplating the future of humanity and/or the universe, rather than merely entertaining vapid readers.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Peace means different things to people

Joe Haldeman's Forever Peace is not a temporal follow-on the his earlier Forever War. Rather, this tale takes place entirely on Earth in the mid-20th century. Society has evolved to a strange, but hauntingly familiar caricature of present times. Technology has advanced such that material wants have largely disappeared and people only work if desired. A short military service is mandatory, but is mostly a human operated drone program and the US seems to be at perpetual war with insurgents around the globe. Into this mix, a part time soldier who is also a budding physicist is engaged to stop a large scale experiment going on at Jupiter that has the potential to initiate the end of the universe, but there are other forces intent on bringing this about.

The sci-fi elements are surprisingly prescient in terms of today's developments. Human operated drones, in this case soldier equivalent robots dominate the military. Clearly, all the inherent issues with asymmetric warfare are evident. At the same, there are psych issues that develop with the "jacked in" state resulting from a near hive mind state the soldiers are constantly exposed to. "Nanoforges" have off-loaded human labor requirements for mass production resulting in the vast majority of society with nothing to do. As such, there is 1984 quality without an overbearing government footprint. Finally, Haldeman inserts religious fervor of an "immanentizing the eschaton" aspect to an end of days as well race relations issues that have never quite been addressed.

The narration is quite well done with a good range of voices and excellent character discrimination. Pacing and tone are well suited to the plot.

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  • Story

Perspective, ways of understanding one's world.

I have always preferred hard SF. Speculative, or Science Fiction. By hard S soft I mean solid, or hard science vs a speculative that magic, or miraculous;having mo rational basis as an explanation.

The pivot of this story has no solid science behind it yet all the major points are believable,even rational.
1.Robot like automatons remotely manipulated by people in remote controlling vertual environments.
The danger faced is a rebooting of the cosmoc"Big Bang. " A rebooting replaces our current universe with a new one without a sound explain of how or what would be doing that. Don't let that keep you away from the story, it's well done, and told.
Not the end of the human world, but of everything of the universe.

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I refuse to believe that this is a 3 time award winner!!!

Nonsensical plot devices, shallow characters, lackluster dialogue.

Characters that are supposed to be doctorate-level logicians repeatedly miscalculate and make horrible decisions.

Clumsy switching from 1st to 3rd person.

Worse, the protagonist is Black, a scientist, a soldier, and mentally ill but somehow manages it insult Blacks, scientists, soldiers, and the mentally ill.

This isn't THE worst book ever, but it's really bad.

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pretty bad

the book didn't really have a coherent plot and it seemingly meand ered from plot to plot as if each were just a vessel to explore some scfi idea. the characters weren't really likable and they seemed to spring up randomly and the way by which they achieved "peace" was downright horrible. one of the worst Scfi books I've read in a while.

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The first half is trivial.

I almost turned this off waiting for a plot. The setup is long and seemingly trivial. Once the writer finally gets around to exposing the true driving force to the story, it becomes interesting.

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A good and imaginative story that ends too quickly

I liked this book a lot but for me it seemed to end pretty abruptly. I found myself wondering, with 30 minutes to go, how it could be possible to pull it all together. It does, but abruptly.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Gavin Jones
  • 07-29-15

An Enjoyable Romp

What did you like best about Forever Peace? What did you like least?

The first half of the book. The second half of the book.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The stuff at the beginning. The stuff at the end.

Any additional comments?

If you enjoyed "The Forever War" then I can see no reason why you wouldn't enjoy at least the first half of this book. The second half, although entertaining, just seemed a bit daft. Having said all that, the whole thing was infinitely better than listening to Radio 2 or John Humphrys.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mikael
  • 07-27-15

Uninteresting

Unlike his first book, this one was completely uninteresting stock scifi-action with scarcely a hint of novelty to it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr M Letch
  • 04-28-15

A Sci-Fi thriller that reads like a film.

Joe Haldeman, said although this wasn't a direct prequel to The Forever Wars, there's aspects of the story that fit into that universe.

There's three stories interweaving within the book, one of them the military industrial complex and the futility of war, another is a love affair between a couple of different races and ages, and thirdly a threat that could kill us all.

What more do you need from a Thriller!

The reader is fantastic, a voice that is pure Americana with a slightly world weary sardonic tone, that I think references the sense of war weary America that this book portrays.

I have a lot of audio books and I regularly come back to this one, knowing what's going to happen before you listen, but it not mattering as you're so immersed in the books universe, says a lot about the quality of the story and the reader.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful