Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.)
VOYA - Marsha Valance
With this work, Haldeman supplies science fiction readers with an instant classic-a book that will be read and discussed for many years. Julian Class is one of the most well-drawn, convincing protagonists in recent SF. An African-American physicist drafted into the U. S. Army of 2043 as a "solderboy mechanic" (cybernetic operator of an indestructible war machine), he turns into a pacifist through his war experiences, but then must kill to prevent worldwide destruction. The world of 2043 is lightly sketched but totally credible. The reader is quickly involved in the fast-moving plot, as Julian, while on leave in Texas with Amelia, his postdoctoral advisor/lover, is alerted to a military experiment that could destroy the solar system and which fanatical militarists are determined will proceed on schedule. The in-text portrayal of the ethics of war moves the plot forward without distracting from the action. The vivid depiction of Amelia's affair with another physicist is far from graphic but still might be offensive to some readers. This book belongs in every senior high library alongside Haldeman's Hugo- and Nebula-Award winning The Forever War (St. Martin's, 1975). VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Broad general YA appeal, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Not a sequel to Haldeman's 1974 masterpiece, The Forever War, though the concepts and issues inevitably are similar. In 2043, the US-led Alliance is fighting a prolonged and dirty war against the third-world force of Ngumi, or "rebels." "Mechanic" sergeant Julian Class, a black soldier fighting for a predominantly white establishment, cyberlinks via a jack implanted in his skull to a robot "soldierboy" bodyand to the other members of his platoon. The result is full, instant telepathy, in which secrets are impossible. Meanwhile, Julian's white lover, professor Amelia Harding, discovers that a particle accelerator experiment being assembled near Jupiter could destroy the entire universe. Then a colleague of Julian's, the military researcher Marty Larrin, reveals that prolonged cyberlinking "humanizes" people, that is, renders them incapable of killing. Julian, a near-pacifist, agrees to help Marty humanize all the military's bigwigs while he and Amelia attempt to halt the accelerator project. Trouble is, the Alliance armies are riddled with ruthless religious-fanatic Hammer of God moles, who think that the end of the universe would be a splendid idea.
Hardworking, often absorbing, and agreeably narrated, but the hard-to-fathom plot rubs uneasily against the chaotic and not altogether convincing backdrop.