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Friday, December 1, 2006

Forever Peace

Forever Peace (Remembering Tomorrow) by Joe Haldeman

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful:

February 27, 2002

Forever is not long enough to make me want to read this garbage again. Much like "Forever Free", "Forever Peace" starts out somewhat strong but falls apart by the halfway point, degenerating into a lame James Bond, cloak-and-dagger yarn. By the time "Peace" staggers into the rushed conclusion, Haldeman is no longer writing, but merely telling the reader things that happened. His characters have no substance, especially the main character, Julian Class, who is a carbon copy of "Forever War" hero William Mandela, right down to the physics degree. Most distressing of all, Haldeman ignores a cardinal rule of writing, alternating between 1st and 3rd person for no clear reason at all.

The main difference between the classic "Forever War" and the far inferior "Forever Peace" and "Forever Free" is that the "Forever War" focuses solely on one character and the events around him, while the two other books start out focusing on one character and then try to deal with large, weighty issues. Unfortunately for readers, Haldeman is bad at dealing with weighty issues, so the books turn into outrageous tales with plots as thin as a video game.

For instance, the primary thrust of "Forever Peace" is that if people get a hole drilled in their head and network ("jack" as it's called) with a bunch of other people for a few days, then they'll come out as perfect pacifists unable to kill unless in self-defense. As rediculous as that sounds, Haldeman never bothers to deal with any issues surrounding this, assuming that everyone would want to get a hole drilled in their head and bear their soul to a bunch of strangers. In fact, people in island countries like Cuba, the UK, etc. will up and move to the mainland so that those sad few who can't be "humanized" can be isolated on the islands so they don't hurt anyone. Of course in Haldeman's world, the massive task of drilling billions of holes and shifting millions of people around can all be accomplished in two years.

Maybe I'm wrong, but if someone wants to abduct me, drill a hole in my skull, hook me up with a bunch of strangers, and force me out of my home, I might not exactly be first in line. But hey, let's not let reality interfere with the story.

In closing, "The Forever War" was a triumph for Haldeman, but its sequel "Forever Free" and pseudosequel "Forever Peace" are travesties of literature. It astonishes me that "Forever Peace" won the Hugo & Nebula Awards, I hope that it ran unopposed.

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