by Joe Haldeman
I have found that I absolutely love finding some of these books that I have never heard of. I knew nothing about this story before reading it. And I was extremely happy with the outcome. This story revolves around war and time, and asks many questions about those topics.
This book was written in 1974 and I found that the author did an amazing job of visualizing the future and what could be. The time frame begins in 1997 and then goes forward at an accelerated rate. I had to take a moment and laugh at the description of the future in the year 2007. Because of how society was at that point in the story and how society actually is.
The descriptions of the battles are truly horrific. You can really taste the visceral aspects of war because of this. No punches are pulled in these battles. People are lost and accidents happen. The fighting is brutal. And it all has a touch of reality to it. The author is a veteran of war and I think he was able to capture those experiences and put them into a sci-fi story.
At one point in the story the main character, Mandella, returns to earth and finds a vastly different earth than the one he left. This whole episode screamed at me of the soldiers returning to America after the Vietnam War. And it turned out that Haldeman had served in that war. And this also felt very real and not a matter of fiction. As Mandella tries to fit into this world it becomes increasingly hard for him to do so. There comes a point where there isn’t much left to keep him home and he returns to the only thing that makes sense.
One other interesting thing about this book is how it deals with sexuality. There is a definite arc to sexuality within the human species in this story. There was very open sex between characters and there was no stigma attached to it. This and few other things reminded me of Brave New World. But the sexuality is an integral part to this story. Many issues of relationships and homosexuality are covered and were very eye opening. Sci-Fi has been great in holding up a mirror to our own perceptions within society. This book did a great job of holding that mirror up to homosexuality.
This is an amazing book that really gives the reader a feel for war and the things that soldiers go through. I enjoyed this more than Starship Troopers. This feels more real than Sci-Fi even though we are dealing with war on other planets and time displacement. I highly recommend this book.