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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

Critic Reviews

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

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,130
  • 4 Stars
    1,632
  • 3 Stars
    657
  • 2 Stars
    148
  • 1 Stars
    61

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,834
  • 4 Stars
    1,332
  • 3 Stars
    494
  • 2 Stars
    83
  • 1 Stars
    37

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,899
  • 4 Stars
    1,191
  • 3 Stars
    527
  • 2 Stars
    123
  • 1 Stars
    55
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

59 of 61 people found this review helpful

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

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!'

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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

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.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Still one of the best,and well narrated.

Many years have passed since I have read this excellent book, it still rates for me as one of the best sci-fi reads. Not too much battle action, just enough romance and for a story, spread as the name suggests, over many centuries, it is entirely believable.
The main characters are entirely believable as well.
Written before many of our 2010 incarnations of technology, the authors mind picture of the immediate future is very close to reality but also much that he describes as happening in the far off future is real today.
Joe's depictions of society and his assumption that homosexuality would become more accepted prove very close to actuality, although happening earlier than Joe anticipated.
Altogether a great listen, well narrated.
If you missed this and like Heinlein, Moorecock, Aldiss, Asimov and the like, give it a go you wont be disappointed... Brian

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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

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.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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

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

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

Ahead of its time...

A very enjoyable book... Very different than other space infantry books I've read. Futuristic topics were detailed, and handles superbly.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sara
  • 01-07-09

Loved it.

Having always wanted to read this book, I took the opportunity of a long commute to listen to it instead. it is slightly dated, but if you cannot rise above the tide of time, you shouldn't read any book older than a couple of years old, which rules out rather a lot of good books - "That Treasure Island, it's sooo dated!"

The narration is good, and the story itself, despite having travelled in strange directions as far as predicting a future world is concerned, is charming with believable characters and plays with interesting ideas. Not sure how it won the Hugo and Nebula, as I can think of better books, but still well worth listening to.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ben
  • 09-26-14

Forever?- This went pretty quickly!

What did you like best about this story?

This has been one of my favourite books in a 'best sci-fi' list that I have been working through lately. The structure is great as it keeps the pace of the story motoring along and alternates between the action based military campaign, and a more thoughtful reflection on the society that has been left behind. It's not a dumb book, but it remains completely unpretentious at all times which is not always the case with the old sci-fi. Pleased I came across this one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • steve
  • 03-27-13

A classic tale- needs an updated narration

Still a great story after all these years, i read it when it first came out and it has stood the test of time.

However the narration is dated, it sounds old, tired and lacks any passion, it could really do with being redone in a more lively modern context and then it would be nudging 5 stars

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Savvas Kleanthous
  • 05-28-18

Quite good after a bit

A weird one for me. The whole book "reads" like a list of what-ifs and some that don't really make a lot of sense. Some of the physics don't make sense and it's not part of what the book puts as suspension of disbelief, but are easilly excusable due to the books age. Similarly there are issues in other aspects. The book tries a lot to sound futuristic and tolerant, but its age shows there too.

However, even with the points above, it grows on you quite a bit ending up to be a quite enjoyable listen. Overall I would give it 3.5 out of 5 stars rounded up since audible does not allow half stars.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 03-15-18

Best sci-fi book I've read...heard! in ages!

Great story, characters and development throughout. Fantastic narration too. Can't wait to get my hands on the next in the series!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ricci M.
  • 01-02-18

Great story. Average narrator

I loved the story from the first to the last page. The narrator, however, could have made a little more of an effort in differentiating the various characters

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • adam
  • 12-08-17

classic Sci fi

Really enjoyed this classic Sci fi novel. I loved the time shifting and resulting culture shifts. Great nerdy dialogue, with some good battles, but the story lacks tension and a feeling of "being there" to make it 5 stars for me. Would recommend this book still tho

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • PL
  • 08-06-17

another great sci-fi classic

easy to listen to. not too much details but enough to keep it a little cool and a little nerdy. enjoy it.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Neil
  • 06-22-17

Fantastic storey, well read.

I think this ius a great story and now thanks to this audio book I've experienced it again, with out have to fund the time to read it.

If you're into SciFi and you've not read this before it's a must.

If you have read it before, go on enjoy it again!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • A. Macgregor
  • 06-22-17

Wow. Just Wow.

I bought this because of reviews saying how much of a seminal piece of science fiction it was but was delighted to find it was that AND an incredibly good read. So many ideas from this book have gone on to become reality it's almost unbelievable to think the author didn't have a time machine. Could not recommend more highly.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ken Ku-Chih
  • 10-16-17

PIAOWW! *laser finger*

Entertaining sci-fi which does a particularly good job in its portrayal of military strategies, time dilation and potential futures.

Brings a few original angles to some common genre themes. The narrative is a touch dated here and there as you’d expect from a book of its age but a thoroughly enjoyable story nevertheless.

If I had to be critical I’d say that The Forever War could be a little hammily performed by George Wilson; however, for me, that lent it a certain charm of its own.

Recommended for those that like a touch of Heinlein with their sci-fi.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mike
  • 09-03-16

Classic

Would you listen to The Forever War again? Why?

The story Is a classic.

What about George Wilson’s performance did you like?

Very listenable

Any additional comments?

Read this as a book and the audio was better

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ken
  • 08-01-18

Good story, good narration

I really like the imagination of Joe Haldeman. There were a few ideas that didn't really hit the mark for me but overall I enjoyed the journey of possible future that the author provided. I have studied a bit of physics but I still didn't quite understand all of the concepts. It gets quite technical so be prepared to struggle a bit if you're not up to speed with that.

Narration was really good.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nat
  • 06-02-18

One of the Best of all time

I loved this book so much. I can't recommend it enough.
I have loved Sci Fi my whole life and read all the classics yet this left me floored. After I finished it, I started agin from the beginning straight away. It was magic.

This is easily one of the best future war stories ever, one of the best anti war stories ever and one of the best sci fi stories as well.

Truly one of the greats!!!

***
(Avoid the sequel Forever Free, it's garbage)

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lord Vader
  • 04-11-18

Good book very good story

Definitely worth a listen. George Wilsons performance is perfect!

Story is brilliant with interesting physics ideas.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ross
  • 02-06-17

Good Science.

I really enjoyed the concept of time in this novel. It realy highlights the problems of near the speed of light travel that may become a reality in our future. I also enjoyed the authors take on what direction humanity will take both socially and politically. Really enjoyed it....but I am a massive sci fi fan so definitely biased 😊

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rainer
  • 03-30-14

A great story about time travel

What did you like most about The Forever War?

The insight into what the human race might be like hundreds of years from now.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Obvioulsy it has to be William, but Charlie was pretty cool too. William, the main character is very relateable to.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Probably when he first arrives at Heaven for rehab. Everyone is talking English, but with a weird dialect.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I liked the ending, can't say for spoiler reasons.

Any additional comments?

If you like time travel and stories about the future, then this is for you. If you don't like war stories, don't stress too much, the military stuff is very light, it's more about the characters.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • thereadaholic
  • 08-24-17

Great concept but marred by dated attitudes

The underlying story of soldiers who skip hundreds of earth years every time they go out in space to fight (due to the time dilation of space travel) is a great concept.

The lack of information about - or interest in -their enemy is annoying.

But what really destroyed the book for me was the dated attitudes and understanding of both women and homosexuality. Women in the army seem to accept and even enjoy the requirement they service the sexual needs of their male counterparts. The greatest complaint is a reference to them feeling tired and looking forward to some rest after visiting a base where there had previously been only two women to service dozens of men.

Attitudes toward and understanding of homosexuality is even worse. It doesn't exist until they are propelled into a future where homosexuality is promoted and eventually mandated by the UN as a form of birth control.

While none of this will put off the target audience - heterosexual men who don't think much about other people, it is disappointing for the other 60% of us who cannot fully enjoy the great book this had the potential to be.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful