Joe Haldeman is a Vietnam veteran whose classic novels The Forever War and Forever Peace both have the rare honor of winning the Hugo and Nebula Awards. He has served twice as president of the Science Fiction Writers of America and is currently an adjunct professor teaching writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Veteran sf writer Haldeman views this novel not as a continuation of but as a follow-up to the problems raised in his highly acclaimed 1975 novel, Forever War. In the Universal Welfare State in 2043, draftees and volunteers link their brains to "soldierboy" war machines that do the actual fighting hundreds of miles away. Black physics professor and linked draftee Julian Class; his white mentor and lover, Dr. Amelia Harding; and her colleague Peter discover that the high-profile Jupiter Project is about to re-create the Big Bang that will destroy the solar system. The original 20 survivors of an experiment to link brains via implanted jacks discover they can turn people into pacifists by linking them for two weeks. Together with Julian and Amelia, the group stays one jump ahead of assassins as they try to stop the project and pacify key figures. At once a hard science, military, and political thriller, this book presents a thoughtful and hopeful solution to ending war in the 21st century. Essential for sf collections.
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.)