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Forever Peace

by Joe Haldeman

Book list The author of the sf classic Forever War (1972) offers a companion, not a sequel, in this similarly titled novel in which the measures taken to sustain seemingly endless conflict wind up being the prospective source of possibly endless resolution.

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Veteran sf writer Haldeman views this novel not as a continuation of but as a follow-up to the problems raised in his highly acclaimed 1975 novel, Forever War. In the Universal Welfare State in 2043, draftees and volunteers link their brains to "soldierboy" war machines that do the actual fighting hundreds of miles away. Black physics professor and linked draftee Julian Class; his white mentor and lover, Dr. Amelia Harding; and her colleague Peter discover that the high-profile Jupiter Project is about to re-create the Big Bang that will destroy the solar system. The original 20 survivors of an experiment to link brains via implanted jacks discover they can turn people into pacifists by linking them for two weeks. Together with Julian and Amelia, the group stays one jump ahead of assassins as they try to stop the project and pacify key figures. At once a hard science, military, and political thriller, this book presents a thoughtful and hopeful solution to ending war in the 21st century. Essential for sf collections.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Haldeman's latest is more a companion than a sequel to his ingenious Forever War (1972), a passionate antiwar homage to and rebuttal of Heinlein's gung ho Starship Troopers (1959). It is 2043, and the U.S. and its allies are waging a seemingly endless war against a loose federation of Third World countries called Ngumi. Julian Class is a draftee, an infantryman, and part of a "soldierboy" --a mechanized, armor-plated, highly lethal unit run by a squad of men and women all of whom have been "jacked" or linked together by surgical implantation. Add to the plot mix a plan to build a mammoth particle accelerator on Jupiter's moon, Io, and the rise of a fundamentalist, secretive religious sect, the Hammer of God, to the very highest military ranks. Just before the particle accelerator is implemented, Julian's physicist girlfriend proves that it will throw the galaxy into a diaspora--a big bang--and end the world. That would be fine with the Hammer of God, who initiate a war within the army to ensure that the accelerator does its job. Julian and his cohorts manage to defeat them, even as it is discovered that prolonged linking with other minds results in "humanization," or the inability to kill except in self-defense, and peace breaks out, presumably to last forever. Haldeman had the misfortune to write a classic early in his career, and nothing he has written since is as good. But this one, particularly in its combat scenes, comes close. --John Mort

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly It isn't the sequel to The Forever War (1975) that it was rumored to be?except, perhaps, on a thematic level?but Haldeman's latest novel holds its own with that SF classic. In the year 2043, an American-led Alliance has been at war with Ngumi, a third-world confederation, for eight years, due largely to the Alliance's refusal to share new technology. Aside from a few thermonuclear strikes, most of the fighting, at least on the Alliance's side, has been carried out by "soldierboys," killing machines run under remote control by brain-jacked "mechanics," many of them draftees like physicist Julian Class. Meanwhile, in orbit around Jupiter, humanity's most ambitious scientific experiment ever, the Jupiter Project, is coming to fruition. But Julian's lover and former adviser, Amelia Harding, discovers that potentially the Project could destroy not just our solar system but the entire universe, in a reprise of the Big Bang. When Amelia and Julian try to stop the Project, their way is blocked by the Hammer of God, an influential Christian cult dedicated to bringing about the Endtime. As always, Haldeman, a Vietnam vet, writes with intelligence and power about the horrors of war, and about humanity's seeming inability to overcome its violent tendencies. Julian Class, like so many of Haldeman's protagonists, is an essentially good man who, forced by the military to become a killer, has been driven nearly to suicide by guilt. His story packs an enormous emotional punch, and this novel should be a strong awards contender. Author appearances. (Oct.)

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.