Private William Mandella is a reluctant hero, drafted into an elite military unit to fight in a distant interstellar war against an unknowable and unconquerable alien enemy. Mandella will perform his duties and, as he survives, rise through the ranks, but his greatest test will come when he returns to Earth. Because of the effects of relativity, every time he comes home after a few months¿ tour of duty, centuries have gone by on Earth, making him and his fellows ever more isolated from the world for whose future they are fighting.
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Private William Mandella is a reluctant hero in an interstellar war against an unknowable and unconquerable alien enemy. But his greatest test will be when he returns home. Relativity means that for every few months' tour of duty centuries have passed on Earth, isolating the combatants ever more from the world for whose future they are fighting.Review:
"Today we're going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man." The first line of this 1974 sf war story still grabs hard: The Forever War, winner of both Hugo and Nebula awards, is a fine choice to launch Millennium's "SF Masterworks" series of classic reissues. Future soldier William Mandella's service in the interstellar "Forever War" chillingly echoes Vietnam, where Joe Haldeman was severely wounded and won the Purple Heart. Afterwards, many real-life veterans found themselves distanced and alienated from US society: thanks to starflight's time dislocations, Mandella returns from weeks or months of combat duty to an Earth which after centuries of change is no longer his home. Though armed with increasingly futuristic weaponry--laser fingers, nova bombs, stasis fields--the infantry still suffers the long agonising waits, the sudden flurry and horror of battle, the shock of loss in a futile war without glory or glamour. But there's still room for tenderness, and for a satisfying ending as the cruel equations of relativistic time finally work in Mandella's favour. Incidentally, this is the first full British edition. When The Forever War was serialised, the magazine editor vetoed one section; it was omitted from the 1974 novel and is now restored. Highly recommended. -- David Langford
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