Review: The Forever War

The Forever War The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Weird things happen when you start traveling at near to the speed of light. If you were to get into a hypothetical ship and travel at very close to the speed of light, making laps around the sun for a year, then landed back on earth, you might find that the earth had actually made 15 trips around the sun in that "same time". This is time dilation, and is something that Einstein introduced the world to as part of his theory of relativity.

Now, imagine going to war where you spend time on a ship traveling at near light speeds in order to reach the combat zone and return. What might be a handful of years to you in your own subjective time would be decades or even centuries to those you left behind. Would you be able to stay connected to the people you left? Would you still feel any bond?

This is the concept behind The Forever War. It is ostensibly a commentary on the Vietnam War and the reaction of soldiers involved in and returning from that conflict. I've never been involved in war, so I can't really identify with that sensation. I can say that this story left me with a bit of empathy for returning soldiers as well as anyone else who might find themselves out of sync with the modern world. We're living in a period of dramatic and dynamic change, and it is easy to feel like an outsider as the world rapidly shifts.

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Review: Ack-Ack Macaque

Ack-Ack Macaque Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L. Powell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As ludicrous as the jacket cover blurb for this novel may sound, this is a really fun story. It is a really interesting mix of cyber punk, steam punk, pulp, and noir. The cast of characters is very diverse and interesting. Merovich is a reluctant prince of an alternate history / future where France joined the UK. Julie is an idealistic freedom fighter bent on liberating sentient AIs. Victoria is a former journalist who survived a terrible crash at great physical cost and has redefined herself as a fighter. The titular Ack Ack Macaque is a simian fighter pilot unaware that he is a character in a World War II video game. Together, these character's lives intertwine as they work to uncover a sinister plot that could lead to the end of life as we know it.

Due to the diverse mix of genres this book touches on, I could easily recommend it to any number of readers. I think anyone can pick it up and enjoy it, but I would particularly call it out to folks that have enjoyed works by Paolo Bacigalupi, Ernest Cline, Daniel Suarez, or Ramez Naam.

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Jade Mason