Monday, 29 June 2009

I needed a dose of decent SF

Not very often, but...
I will get a cravings for a specific genre. Until after I read this collection of stories, it was science fiction.

PEACE AND WAR, The Omnibus Edition, by Joe Haldeman

Has been my bedtime read of choice for the last few weeks. This collection of stories that are novel length, each, stick to these three themes: war, freedom, peace. The stories have existed in various forms for over thirty years, but in this edition they're all brought together in versions that the author believes are definitive.

William Mandella: The Forever War, and Forever Free
The first two stories in the collection centre around William Mandella, a man thrust into the Forever War from its beginning, and who is there at its end, over a thousand years later. Mandella is forced to fight in a war where Earth does not even know the enemy its fighting when it begins its assault.

The second book takes place after the war, as Mandella tries to find his place in a universe he no longer has a stake in. This is a future that Mandella cannot endure.

Julian Class: Forever Peace
The final story is set in a different universe, on Earth. An Earth where not everyone is equal.

Julian Class fights for the Alliance in the Ngumi War, because he is 100 percent American. Julian is a mechanic, he does not go on the battle field, his Soilderboy does, controlled from thousands of miles away using a brain jack. However, Julian is also a physicist and when his girlfriend asks for his help in trying to figure out whether the end of the universe is about to begin, killing innocents on the battlefield seems the least of Julian's worries.

Not light hearted reading
The war scenes that are described in these stories are brutal and nightmarish. Joe Haldeman admits to drawing on his experiences when he served in the Vietnam War, and it shows.

Recommend it?
If you're looking for some serious science fiction to read this summer, hunt down this collection published by Gollancz Science Fiction, 2006, ISBN: 0-575-07919-3, RRP: £8.99.

Related links
Wiki entry on Joe Haldeman

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