This month’s book club selection is The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. This was Dan’s turn to choose, and he shocked no one by picking a science fiction classic. This particular book will be interesting to discuss because Haldeman is a Vietnam veteran and this is a critique of the Vietnam War set in outer space.
The basic plot of the book is that Earth is at war with an alien race, the Taurans. The main character is one of the first people to fight the Taurans, and he serves in the military for the entire war. When he is away from Earth, decades pass but he does not age. The parts of the novel that I found most interesting were his reaction to the way that Earth had changed and how hard it was for him to adjust. This was a really cool way to parallel the experience of Vietnam veterans returning to the United States.
Whenever there was actual combat going on in the story, I was bored to tears. I like science fiction, but military science fiction is not my cup of tea. All of the social commentary was interesting, and that was the redeeming quality of the book to me.
I’m glad that, through my book club, I am being forced to read some of the major titles of the science fiction canon. I appreciated this novel for its critique of the Vietnam War, but I didn’t finish it thinking, “Wow, that was an awesome book!” When we read Alas, Babylon, I remember really loving it, and that didn’t happen here. To be fair, I do love post-apocalyptic books so Alas, Babylon was sure to make me happy.
I look forward to discussing this one in book club. It will be interesting to hear what others think about the combat scenes that put me to sleep. We are having a different kind of book club meeting this time, and I’m really excited about it. I will explain in my next blog post.