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am 3. April 1999
I am surprised by the readers who have compared Haldeman's new novel unfavorably to "The Forever War." That early novel's virtues notwithstanding, Haldeman's prose is much better in the books he wrote in the eighties and nineties, and I find his style one of his greatest virtues. (His plots can be, if anything, a bit too well-oiled and smooth-running. I tend to prefer his meditative works, such as "World Enough and Time," over the more thriller-like ones, such as "Tool of the Trade.")
Narrative consciousness (what you would call "characterization") is better conveyed by a book's prose than by its plot, and I found the stoicism (and the descent into despair) of the protagonist very strong. Perhaps the final quarter of the novel has a bit too many precisely-timed entrances and exits; "The Long Habit of Living" (aka "Buying Time") is another one of Haldeman's better novels that can perhaps be faulted on these grounds. But I read the novel straight through, pausing to reread paragraphs that seemed especially good, and have no problem commending the novel.
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am 24. August 1999
I found a book by Joe Haldeman that I didn't like, and I REALLY didn't like it, for several reasons:
The narrative switches back and forth from first to third person. Come on, I learned not to do that in junior high English! Plus, the switching is very frequent; every 4 or so pages. Very difficult and frustrating to keep track of what's going on.
The plot is poorly contrived. It doesn't flow as well as his other novels.
The amount of sexuality in the book. Not to be prudish, but good grief! With each Haldeman book I read, I notice more and more of an emphasis being put on this. Well, there's even more here, and it seemed very out of place.
Actually, the first 10 pages are a good example of what this book could have been - Haldeman's trademark good writing. Afterwards, it just degenerates. Don't bother with it.
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am 25. November 1998
Basic premise: Mankind evolving to a higher pacifist state through a technological collective consciousness despite resistance from a conservative and religious group.
Criticism: Weak characterisation and narrative marr this novel. Novel is too lengthly and it could have been a short story or novella at best.
Haldemann wears his Vietnam vet tag like an emblem, stating that in every novel, but his experiences does not relate much. Tim O' Brien and others have expressed it better. Unlike Haldemann's magnum opus, 'The Forever War' where the basic premise and its supporting ideas were of great interest, 'Forever Peace' is a one idea novel and the idea is simply very derivative. Disappointing to the extreme.
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am 15. September 1998
If you are hoping for a sequel to Joe Haldeman's stellar "Forever War" (despite Mr. Haledman's denial to the contrary) you will be disappointed. But if you approach "Forever Peace" as a completely separate set of ideas, the book becomes more readable. The battles between the military, bent on keeping an unnecessary war going, the religious nuts, determined to keep the Jupiter Project going in hopes of starting anew and the men and women who link with and fight the "soldierboys" creates enough tension to make the reader want to continue to the end to see who prevails, despite a rather dry narrative style and less than fully developed explanations of the technology.
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am 17. Oktober 1998
Although some people who reviewed this book felt it was sub-standard for Haldeman it fit my criteria of a good book. First, it was a good read. Second the plot had substance. Third, it made me think about the central issues within the novel. I'm happy when two of the three standards are met. As for the politically correct business I don't think so. Haldeman has never been that kind of writer, he has often brought about the ambiguity in relationships and of possible futures. Characters don't have to be likeable to be interesting or engaging. The issues of the cost of peace may be handled better in other books but Haldeman's take seems honest which makes this a book I'd suggest to others.
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am 23. August 1998
Haldeman's new book is not what I hoped it would be. The writing is solid and the ideas are unique BUT the characters are strangely flat. One can't help but compare it to "The Forever War's" William Mandella, whose free-wheeling narrative invited the reader to experience ever inner thought and emotion of his insane journey through time and space. None of the characters in "Forever Peace" are very likable. Maybe, that's the why the book is rather depressing and unfulfilling.
Haldeman can't write a bad book, but "Forever Peace" is not one that I will be rereading.
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am 27. September 1999
It is difficult to imagine that this book received the Hugo Award. The story seems too weak for that. It is just another version of the same old story about scientists trying to save the universe from the crazies who are about to do it in. Religious crazies in this case are the bad guys. There is a lot of "jacking" and lots of war stuff. There are some twists to the plot and a little suspense but it doesn't amount to all that much. The characters are not strong but rather gray and not entirely believable. Still, though, not the worst science fiction I have read.
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am 8. April 2000
I know this is no sequel to Haldeman's FOREVER WAR, it says so in the book.
And it's not. Whereas FOREVER WAR was an imaginative metaphor for Vietnam, FOREVER PEACE is a dull read.
Is there a trend toward domestic issues in sci-fi? It appears so. COSM, TERMINAL EXPERIMENT, and now this book, all devote large chunks to the character's "issues," dysfunctions, and interpersonal problems.
Hey, if I wanted that, I'd listen to some radio psychobabbler or watch Jerry Springer. The characters in this book would make great guests on those shows. And they're self-absorbed enough to enjoy doing it. To me, the reader, they're just boring.
What sci-fi elements this book contains (jacking into one another's minds) isn't terribly original. From some unknown first time writer, this book would be acceptable pap. I guess I just expected something more from the author of THE FOREVER WAR.
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am 22. Januar 1999
Pick up this book and be prepared for an agonizing game of mental ping-pong as you're jerked back and forth from first person to third person narrative. The effect isn't thought provoking or stimulating, just fatiguing.
This puzzling narrative style adds insult to injury as the premise starts off promisingly, but halfway through, when the protagonist faces his imminent self-confrontation, the storyline unravels in a flurry of laughable plot twists.
I have now officially given up on Science Fiction -- thank you Mr. Haldeman.
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am 2. April 2000
Darn it! Here it is, 2:30 in the morning again. Joe Haldeman's "Forever Peace" was too great a read for me to stop!
I've long been interested in issues around the man<=>machine interface. Contemporary computers, keyboards and screens have remarkably extended our intellectual reach to the robotic exploration of outer, local and inner space. We have developed formidable interpretive methods that enable us to synthesize and deduce reliable information from often unrelated signals spread over time, form and distance.
The ultimate realization of such an extension of man and machine might well be Haldeman's "soldier boys". In this exciting and suspenseful novel he has craftily perfected this interface so that "mechanics" located great distances from the soldier boy machines have complete sensory and functional control.
Even more wonderful, he has humanized the interface by linking the multiple minds, histories and realities of the several or many persons that "jack" together.
His vision of the consequences of such a linking, and how vividly he expressed it, fascinated me. I found the characters and the concepts extremely interesting, intense and believable. The suspense built right up to a thrilling conclusion that left me slightly breathless and just itching to sit down and say something about it.
For readers who like to ponder our possible futures this is a fine vision to add to their collection.
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