Joe Haldeman became an overnight sensation in the early '70s when his novel Forever War was published to international acclaim, winning both a Hugo and a Nebula Award for Best Novel. Now his follow-up, Forever Peace , has achieved the same grand distinction, taking home Best Novel accolades at the recent Nebula banquet. Forever Peace , which won the Hugo Award for Best Novel last summer, tells the riveting story of Julian Class, a soldier fighting in the Ngumi War in the year 2043. Here, Haldeman paints a poignant, deeply affecting portrait of the horrors and chaos of battle.
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.)