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Forever War & Peace

(excerpted from Locus Magazine, July 1997)
Joe Haldeman pic
    Photo by Charles N. Brown

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Joe Haldeman's best known book, The Forever War (1975), was one of the first SF works inspired by Vietnam. It won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards for best novel. That and his first book, the autobiographical novel War Year (1972), were based on his service as a combat engineer from 1967 to 1969 in the US Army in Vietnam, where he was severely wounded and received a Purple Heart. His other works include Mindbridge (1977), the "Worlds" trilogy (Worlds, 1981; Worlds Apart, 1985; and Worlds Enough and Time, 1992), and The Hemingway Hoax (1990). A shortened version of the The Hemingway Hoax won the Hugo and Nebula awards as best novella. His most recent novel was 1968, a mainstream book. Forthcoming is Forever Peace.

"I have never said to anybody that Forever Peace was a sequel to The Forever War. Forever Peace is a continuation of the ideas in The Forever War -- it's about whether war's inevitable, and about how it's a reflection of human nature, and whether we might be able to change ourselves in such a way as to make war impossible. But I don't think of it as a sequel. The books are actually two parts of a triptych of which 1968 is the third part."

"Forever Peace is set in a near future, on Earth, where space travel is not an everyday thing, and where the First World has attained a level of physical comfort that's almost unbelievable, through nanotechnology, through a thing they call the 'nanoforge,' which essentially is the Everything Machine. It makes whatever you want, so long as it has the raw materials to hand..."

"You see it in almost every writer's career. They all have this one breakthrough, and the rest of your career is measured in terms of that breakthrough. For me, it was The Forever War. I logged on the net recently for the first time in several days, and had 86 e-mails, of which a lot was fan mail. There were only two or three in this whole accumulation that were not about The Forever War -- and The Forever War is older that most of its readers!"

"Among my dozen or so books, the other one that gets the strongest response from people is The Hemingway Hoax. I obviously love the book, I just wanted to write it, and I had a lot of fun writing it. But there's no fat there. Absolutely pure story, bang, read it and put it down. There are a lot of writers who get wordy. I am one of them, but in my case it's market pressure. They won't let me write a book less than ninety thousand words long. But I like sixty thousand..."

© 1997 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.