Forever Peace - Forever War, Bk 2 Author:Joe Haldeman In the year 2043, the Ngumi War rages. Limited nuclear strikes have been used on Atlanta and two enemy cities, but the war goes on, fought by 'soldierboys' -- indestructible war machines operated by remote control by soldiers hundreds of miles away. — Julian Class is one of these soldiers, and for him war is truly hell. The psychological ... more »strain of being jacked-in to his soldierboy -- and the genocidal results -- are becoming too much to bear. Now he and his companion, Dr Amelia Harding, have made a terrifying scientific discovery, which could literally take the universe back to square one. Except that for Julian, the discovery isn't so much terrifying as tempting...« less
Stephen A. reviewed Forever Peace (Forever War, Bk 2) on
Helpful Score: 4
This is one of my favorite science fiction novels. Though it is a completely different story - it *is* in many ways a sequel to his Forever War. Haldeman explores the notion of a lasting peace and how humanity might achieve such a lasting peace.
The setting is our world divided by conflict between the haves and the have-nots. The economically advanced nations fight their wars by sending in Soldierboys - robots controlled by mind-meshed soldiers. The have-nots respond with guerilla warfare and whatever weaponry they have on hand. Meanwhile there is a secret science project going on on the moons of Jupiter in an attempt to recreate the Big Bang and a shadowy group called the Enders who are trying to bring on the End of things.
If the Enders succeed then there will be Forever Peace - simply being the absence of anyone or anything. The other road to Forever Peace involves true understanding and it is that path that Haldeman presents in this book and which I think we really need in our world.
Julian Class is a full-time professor and part-time combat veteran who spends a third of each month virtually wired to a robotic "soldierboy." The soldierboys, along with flyboys and other advanced constructs, allow the U.S. to wage a remotely controlled war against constant uprisings in the Third World. The conflicts are largely driven by the so-called First World countries' access to nanoforges--devices that can almost instantly manufacture any product imaginable, given the proper raw materials--and the Third World countries' lack of access to these devices. But even as Julian learns that the consensual reality shared by soldierboy operators can lead to universal peace, the nanoforges create a way for humanity to utterly destroy itself, and it will be a race against time to see which will happen first. Although Forever Peace bears a title similar to Joe Haldeman's classic novel The Forever War, he says it's not a sequel.
Not a sequel, but one of the possible futures in parallel with the Forever War. This book tossed around several interesting concepts and stitches them together more-or-less successfully. Despite the turns in the plot, I found myself enjoying this book.
I missed this when it came out in '97 and spent a few days chewing on it. Its not bad - it's not The Forever War and suffers by comparison, but its pretty good. It revolves around the life of one Sergeant Julian Class, platoon leader for a bunch of neurally interfaced, tele-operated 'soldier boys.' For ten days he's on, and twenty he's off. He serves for the Alliance (the first world) against the Ngumi (a third world alliance). He's also a PhD physicist and professor.
And the Alliance he serves is familiar, but not intimately familiar to us. Its an America reshaped by warm fusion and the nanoforge: rationing of drugs and alcohol, compulsory national service, near universal unemployment. Add in a interminable war that reshapes everything, plus religious foment and its not a bad bit of world building.
As to the book and the plot itself, well, the back cover blurbs do a better job summarizing than I ever will. But, despite the premise and a character I liked, I felt the book was weak. To me, it almost felt like 3 books or novels were stitched together to make The Forever Peace. There was Class' story, the discovery at the Jupiter Project and its implications and last bit about the implications of the neural interfaces that are used by the military. The plot elements do grow logically, but, they feel like the were stuck together. Add in the stereotypical religious fanatics in the form of the 'Hammer of God' with cells through the government, and it doesn't quite gel.
If this had been split into two, or three books, I think it would have been great. As it is, it was merely good. Still, it was time well spent.