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The Forever War

Narrated by: George Wilson
Series: The Forever War, Book 1
Length: 9 hrs and 18 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (450 ratings)

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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

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

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Starship Troopers for the thinking pacifist

War is Hell... Coming back home is also Hell.

Mandella is conscripted into the army and unwillingly gets caught up in a war he never wanted to be a part of, for an army he doesn't want to fight for, and for a planet he knows that he will eventually no longer even recognise as home.
Mandella will have to forfeit his life and experience time dilation where earth will advance hundreds of years to his few. This means leaving behind his family, his home, his career and any anyone else he has ever loved. Will there even be a planet to go back to when his tour of duty is up? It's anyone's guess.

Forever War is an epic tale of intergalactic war, time travel (of a sort), and the human condition. A bleak and dystopian look at war, waged by governments and fought by men. Halderman has written a brilliant tale.

Jon Halderman's own military experience is evident throughout this book. I don't think his opinion of war, government, and the military is necessarily a great one. His own experience speaks volume, and lends real weight and depth to the story.

I almost couldn't believe this book was written in 1974, Halderman hits the nail on the head as he writes about a lot of modern societies problems and even predicts technologies! The writing has aged impeccably and could easily have been written today, never mind nearly 45 years ago.

Excellently narrated by George Wilson, the characters are really brought to life. His accents are spot on and he really nails the heavy emotional tone of the novel.

If you're a fan of Old Man's War or Starship Troopers you'll lap this one up. However, unlike those 2 books this takes a very grim view of war and does not glorify it the same way as these other novels.

This is Starship Troopers for the thinking pacifist. There is no glory in war, war is Hell.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sara
  • Llanwrtyd wells, United Kingdom
  • 07-01-09

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.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

slow start good story. a bit short

slow start good story. a bit short. enjoyed it in the end. good narration too

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magnificen

A slow and lovely sci fi. very much enjoyed it. Recommended read from me .

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

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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!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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

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  • PL
  • 06-08-17

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

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!

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • 24-09-08

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.

69 of 72 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Augusto
  • 26-03-12

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.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • William
  • 04-01-10

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Nothing really matters
  • 27-03-15

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!'

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Brenden Zapp
  • 05-04-13

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.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • SAMA
  • 27-11-13

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.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 09-03-18

Great Story, Terrible Narration

The story was great, although there was a bit too much "hand waving" when it came to the science part of the science fiction.
Despite this, I almost returned the book due too the narration. He had really strange inflections that made every character seem as if they were non-chalant about everything. It's hard to describe, but the audio sample should've been a warning. I will avoid any book he's narrated from now on. Almost as bad as Scott Brick...almost.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 08-10-12

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
  • Anonymous User
  • 22-11-10

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 16 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • S. Jackson
  • 22-07-15

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