The Forever War
by Joe Haldeman. It came out in the early 70s, first in a SciFi magazine, and then book. I got my unread paperback from the "free" pile at my library. The cover mentions that it got a Hugo award. I had heard of it, but never read it. I just looked it up on Wikipedia, and it still a highly thought of book.
Pvt Mandella is trained by Viet Nam vets to fight a war against an enemy that man had never actually seen. Light speed travel slows the war from earth "time", so when he gets back from his first tour, he has aged a couple of years in his life, but hundreds of years on earth. I've seen him promoted up through Major, and I'm only 2/3 finished with the book.
The Viet Nam war was just finishing when the book was written, and THAT war was still very much in people's mind. In Viet Nam the drafted combat soldiers were mostly the unlucky men who didn't go to college. In the book, the draftees were the best and brightest, first because the war machinery was so complicated and second because it was so, so expensive to move a soldier to a battle hundreds of light years away. The author's own experience as a combat engineer in Viet Nam, no doubt colors his telling.
The cover says that the war was awful but nothing compared to earth when he came back 1200 years later. I'll see. I wonder (and I don't know if the book will get into it) what would happen to man if every year, for a thousand years, if the 1000 best men and women were drafted and sent to almost certain death, while 50% of the population, too stupid to work, lived on welfare. The author must have thought of that because, when Mandella returned to earth the first time, it was against the law NOT to be homosexual. All babies were test tube babies. Then, I wonder if all the babies are engineered, why are half "stupid"?? SciFi, is, IMO, the hardest to write, especially if it includes time distortion. Maybe the fact that the author is up to it is what got him his job teaching at M.I.T.
post edited by tmiles - 2019/10/04 15:01:13