The Forever War
The Forever War is pretty pacy, easy to read. Sometimes the long descriptions of technology or warfare get a bit wearing, and there isn't enough of the human angle, but by about halfway through, I was starting to care without realising it, and by about seventy percent of the way through, I felt like I got a kick in the stomach when one of the few things that seemed like it was going to be a constant stopped.
I know very little about the Vietnam War, so I know very little about the climate this book came out of. The end, the moral of the story, reminds me a bit of Ender's Game, and something in the tone and so on reminds me of John Scalzi's Old Man's War. I definitely didn't like this as much, though.
At first glance, you might either see it as annoyingly homophobic (the main character is a homophobe, just a bit) or somewhat encouraging (whole societies become exclusively homosexual, with heterosexuality being deviant). I think it's a bit more complicated than that. There's the narrator's prejudice -- examples in this review
-- and then there's the fact that he ends up being the only one, but the thing that clinches it is, for me, the end. For all that I'm emotionally engaged in the particular couple, it irritates the heck out of me that at the end, heteronormativity wins: the main character meets up with his female lover, and one of his surviving homosexual friends decides to get therapy to make him straight.
I don't know where Joe Haldeman stands when it comes to sexuality, now or back in the seventies, but I think The Forever War does come out on the side of heteronormativity, in the end.Forever Free
I really enjoyed Forever Free, a direct sequel to The Forever War, with many of the same characters -- up to a point. I liked the set-up, although it was slow, because it rang true for the characters and promised more adventures to come. It was obvious that it was going to go wrong, of course, but that was going to be the interesting part.
And at first, it definitely was. I was intrigued by what scientific explanations Haldeman would come up with, and vaguely thought I remembered reading about the ruins of an older civilisation on some of the planets mentioned in The Forever War, and wondered if it was anything to do with that... There were hints from the Taurans about going into the unknown, okay, so maybe there is some clue somewhere as to what happened...
And then things went weird. Suddenly a new set of aliens showed up, but they had nothing really to do with it and were just an exposition device. And then -- pop! Another alien shows up, and shit gets philosophical.
It didn't hang together, for me.Forever Peace
Forever Peace is an interesting book in itself, describing how the group mind from The Forever War/Forever Free could come about, but I didn't really engage with it very much emotionally. Partially because the main character, Julian, is self-destructive and emotionally off
. It's self-defence, perhaps. It's not a headspace I want to spend much time in. At least it's reasonably well handled.
It isn't really connected to the other books very closely, either, which doesn't help, and the switching between first/third person is odd: sometimes it felt natural, and at other times, really jarred.
I enjoyed it, in parts, but it sort of leaves me shrugging a bit in ambivalence, too. I didn't have the same compulsive drive to read just a few more pages that I did with the other two books.
And a quick opinion poll: I've been reading a lot of Welsh literature, and have been posting the reviews only on goodreads. Would anyone like a selection of my reviews of Welsh lit (probably the ones of my favourites) to be posted here, or are you all as ambivalent as I thought you would be?