Tag Archives: science fiction

Author Interview: Adam Gillrie

It is with great pleasure that No Wasted Ink introduces science fiction author Adam Gillrie.

Author Adam GillrieMy name is Adam Gillrie. I am the least terrible writer you will hear about today. I have a wonderful wife, four kids and a fifth on the way. I live in Sunny Florida, I have a very lazy horse and an extensive knowledge of modern day firearms (research purposes only).

When and why did you begin writing?

There are always two camps of writers. Those that are inspired by a good book and those inspired by a bad one. I’m in the bad one camp.
I can’t put a book down once I start it. Even when I know five pages in, it’s a disaster. I find myself getting more and more upset when a great idea or character is being lead through a formulaic disaster of a book. Nothing sends me faster to my computer to write than a terrible movie or a bad book.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In my heart I’ve been a writer since I published my first book to the School Library at age 6. In reality I told very few people that I’m a writer until my first book was published. I have had wonderful jobs in promising fields but kept finding myself drawn back to writing. In reality I never saw myself doing anything else. I am happiest banging away in front of a computer telling one of the hundreds of stories trapped in my head.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My current book Silent Intrusion took three years to write and edit the last time I wrote it. I wanted a universal story that connected all the alien abduction stories in a uniform pattern. Something that brought it all together. To give you an idea how long this book has been under construction, I typed the last page of the first draft minutes before my brother called me to watch a movie trailer for a movie called Independence Day.

Nothing was more frustrating than seeing what I thought were my best ideas already on the big screen. I sat back down threw out the draft I had and started writing a new version of the story focusing on the Men In Black aspect.

Needless to say Men In Black was released after I finished the second draft. Will Smith just has it in for me. I was frustrated and shelved the book for a number of years. To be fair, although Independence Day had some neat similarities to my book it wasn’t the same story, and Men In Black was also very different. Then three years later I decided to try again. By now I knew the book series incredibly well and decided that it needed something more, humor.

Everyone does scary aliens, but not many people write a good story that is generally funny at the same time. (Don’t say Men In Black this is different) So I locked myself in a hotel room for months and wrote Silent Intrusion for the last time, and it’s funny.

What inspired you to write this book?

The need to let my characters outside of my head. I’ve carried them inside for long enough, it’s time for the rest of the world to meet them. Also I have a childhood dream of world domination and being adored by millions is a big part of that.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Being homeschooled sometimes I don’t fully understand the question, so I’m going to answer this question twice. Something I was able to do in homeschooling, “thank’s mom!”

Answer 1: I do, I try to write with absolute minimalism. I hate reading a book where they talk about the colors of a field for twenty pages. My attitude is if it doesn’t make the story better it’s out. I’d rather have a shorter book that covers the story that needs to be told than a longer book with a strange singing fairy guy in the middle (guess that Lord of the Rings character I’m referencing for a bonus point).

Answer 2: How I write is unique. I wish I was one of those writers that could get it right the first draft but I end up rewriting hundreds of pages throughout the process. I’ve taken to writing the beginning and end and figuring out how to get the characters there after. I may write ten pages for every page that makes it into the final book. So if you thought those pages were bad, let me tell you there are nine others that are much worse.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Surprisingly it’s been the title I’ve wanted to use from the beginning. It also happened to be available. It’s a subtle attack (intrusion) happening quietly (silent). See what I did there?

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

This Author is not an idiot! A secondary message revolves around Breaker’s sacrifice. I want people to know that strangers will give their all to help someone being wronged. There is always hope.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I pulled a lot from my life. I have four wonderful over opinionated sisters who I have a special bond with. I think often of them when I write a brother sister relationship. I think of my own personal struggles to save those I love, sometimes successfully sometimes not. Despite a great desire to be abducted by aliens as a kid, it never happened. So I was not able to pull from any of those types of experiences.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

J.K. Rowling – She caught me by surprise and took me on a wonderful journey. (Through her books, we are in no way friends, sadly).

Tom Clancy – I was a kid who knew nothing and he taught me how the military worked. It’s not my genre but his influences are all through my writing. I also wrote him a letter on Prodigy once and he wrote me back. I still have it.

Orson Scott Card – Enders game is still my favorite book. I believe he perfectly captured the endless possibilities of a talented child.

C.S. Lewis – What a great message of good. C.S. Lewis shaped much of my child hood with his books.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

This is a hard one. I feel that I’ve pulled a lot from other writers. One indirect help was Brandon Mull. A friend of the family I peppered him with questions on publishing and writing for years before he had his successes.

Hugh Howey did an incredible job with Wool. I originally intended on combining the first three books of Silent Intrusion into one large volume but after reading his 60 page book. I recognized people would appreciate a book now and a book later, instead of me waiting another three years to get the other two books done. Also he’s successful, which is great and another reason I want him as a mentor.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I have a great Illustrator in Christopher Hayes and some of his work is on my site, but for the cover I did my own photography and Photoshop work. It was right after I completed the cover that I hired Christopher so I would never have to do that again.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Two pieces of advice. The usual is to get a good editor. You’ll learn more from them than any English class you’ve ever taken.
The second is to spend as much time mapping out the structure of your book as you do writing it.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I’m sorry. I mean, Book 2 is coming along nicely and I promise a few things are resolved. As a writer a short note from a fan who liked the book is absolutely a day maker. It’s why we write books in the first place, to feed our ego. Well besides trying to prove everyone we know wrong.

Silent Intrusion Book CoverAdam Gillrie
Tampa, Florida

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Book: Silent Intrusion
Publisher: Iron Rod Publishing

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Author Interview: Christopher Andrews

I met Christopher and his lovely family at a Los Angeles Literary Convention where he had a table to promote his latest line of books. We fell to chatting and I extended an invitation to him to join us here on No Wasted Ink to tell us more about his life as a writer and about his upcoming books. I hope you’ll enjoy his interview.

Author Christopher AndrewsMy name is Christopher Andrews. I’m an author, actor, screenwriter, occasional fan-film enthusiast, and a stay-at-home Dad. I grew up in Oklahoma but have spent most of my adult life in Southern California. I currently live in California with my wife, Yvonne Isaak-Andrews, our beautiful daughter, Arianna, and our Pug, PJ.

When and why did you begin writing?

Writing as a career was a natural extension of my childhood. When I was 7 years old, my 2nd grade teacher had us do a project where we folded three sheets of notebook paper in half and turned it into a 10-page custom comic book. Most of my schoolmates wrote one sentence, perhaps two, across the top of each page and filled the rest with a drawing. I, however, wrote so much prose that on some pages I had difficulty squeezing in the artwork.

After that, I was always writing something in one form or another. I kept up the custom comic book habit well into college. I co-wrote a stage play for our 5th grade talent show; I co-wrote Humorous Duet material for Drama contest all through high school. I wrote home “movies” for my brother and me to perform. I started typing in 6th grade and wrote many short works (several of which would now be considered “fan fiction,” though I didn’t know the term at the time). I filled blank diary books with all kinds of stories.

Finally, when I was 14 years old — two days after my 14th birthday, in fact — a friend told me that he was working on a novel (which, funny enough, was the origin story for a character he had created for my longest-running custom comic book series) and asked if I would help him write it. The project eventually gravitated over to my work entirely, and I finished it — my first full-length novel — when I was 18 years old.

So when you ask “why” I began writing, I suppose the simplest answer is: I cannot fathom life without writing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I suppose I first consciously thought of myself as “a writer” in 6th grade, when I wrote a novella (in one of those blank diary books) called Demon. It was the first thing I’d written that was not based on something else (the aforementioned comic books, though technically original stories and characters, were set in the Marvel universe). As an adult, I typed up Demon and, purely for nostalgia, had a private mass-media paperback printed of it.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My latest novel is Paranormals: We Are Not Alone, the second novel in my Paranormals series. Very fitting to this interview, Paranormals is my adult adaptation of those custom comic books I talked about.

Paranormals deals with the aftermath of a celestial event dubbed the White Flash, which caused a small-but-slowly-growing percentage of the population to develop superhuman abilities. The first book took place five years after the White Flash; We Are Not Alone takes place one year after that.

The second book sees the main characters from the first continuing to adapt to their changed world. The newest development is the arrival of an extraterrestrial race (the first book mentioned that S.E.T.I. began detecting interstellar signals shortly after the White Flash). We also learn a bit more about what exactly the White Flash was.

What inspired you to write this book?

From the beginning, I intended Paranormals to be an ongoing series. Along with my supernatural Triumvirate series, I plan to return to both of them again and again. Of my eight published books thus far, five of them belong to either Triumvirate or Paranormals.

For Paranormals: We Are Not Alone specifically, things are coming full circle. As the series evolved from my childhood comic book stories, We Are Not Alone evolved from that first novel I wrote during my teen years. We Are Not Alone is, in some ways, an unofficial sequel to that unpublished book.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I am often told that my writing is very “visual,” that my various novels could very easily translate to the screen (no surprise that I’ve written two novelizations of movies). Funny enough, when my screenplays are critiqued, the number one comment is that the prose descriptions are too verbose, like reading a book.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Given the extraterrestrial spin of Paranormals: We Are Not Alone, its subtitle felt the most appropriate — the human characters might have superpowers, but their minds are still appropriately blown by the historic revelation when they realize aliens are among us. It was only a month or so after the hardback was published that a friend pointed out that “We Are Not Alone” was one of the taglines for Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I had not consciously remembered that, but it’s still so fitting, I wouldn’t have changed it.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

My Paranormals series is aimed at pure reading enjoyment. Have fun! (Though I must admit that the series does revere heroism and the strong not taking advantage of the weak, which could easily be taken as the series’ “message.”)

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Not beyond being based on my childhood comic book adventures. Now, the first Triumvirate novel, Pandora’s Game, is another matter entirely …

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I am a huge fan of Isaac Asimov, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, and Peter David. They each have their own unique voice — Asimov was delightfully cerebral; Matheson made the fantastic feel grounded; King brings an earthiness to anything from the pain of divorce to a visit from the devil; David injects humor without making it distracting — but (with the arguable exception of King) they also keep it simple. They show that their stories can be exciting and enthralling without the prose containing so many adjectives they run off the page and out the door.

If you had to choose, is there a writer you would consider a mentor? Why?

If we’re talking about “mentors,” I’d probably have to go with Stephen King because of his excellent book On Writing, which was half autobiography, half writing class. I didn’t agree with every single bit of advice he had to offer, but I often find myself running my own drafts through a quasi-On Writing filter.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I designed my own cover. I’ve actually designed all of my own covers — except for my novelization of Dream Parlor, which is adapted from the movie’s poster. However, my publisher treats my covers as separate agreements from my books themselves. They’ve made it very clear that they retain the rights to opt for another designer’s work. I turn in my manuscript, and then I submit my cover art. So far, they’ve accepted mine each time.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

In this, I can only echo Stephen King’s own advice: Read, read, read! Pick your favorite genre(s), the kinds of books you want to write, and read. Read every single day.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I just want to thank them for allowing me to have this career. If it weren’t for my readers, I wouldn’t be able to stay home with my daughter. I appreciate your ongoing support!

Paranormals - We are Not Alone Book CoverChristopher Andrews
Los Angeles, CA

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Publisher: Rising Star Visionary Press
Cover Artist: Christopher Andrews

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Book Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Book Name: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Author: Douglas Adams
First Published: 1979

Douglas Adams was born in Cambridge, England in 1952. When his parents divorced in 1957, his mother, sister and himself moved to live with his grandparents in a Brentwood, Essex, RSPCA animal shelter that they ran. It is here that he must have developed his affinity for animals and later inspired him to become an animal activist.

Adams grew to be very tall, he was over 6’ by the time he was twelve. His height made him the butt of jokes. Yet, it was his early ability to write stories that helped him make his mark at Brentwood School, an independent prep school that he attended. His former schoolmaster, Frank Halford, said of him:

“Hundreds of boys have passed through the school but Douglas Adams really stood out from the crowd—literally. He was unnecessarily tall and in his short trousers he looked a trifle self-conscious. “The form-master wouldn’t say ‘Meet under the clock tower,’ or ‘Meet under the war memorial’,” he joked, “but ‘Meet under Adams’.”

The author’s early writings was published at Brentwood, writing that helped him earn enrollment at St. John’s College in Cambridge to read English. During this time, Adams desired to join the prestigious “Footlights”, an invitation only student comedy club where he hoped to hone his comedy writing skills. It took him two years of writing and performing with others to earn his place at the “Footlights”. Adams graduated in 1974 with a BA in English literature.

In the early 1980s, Adams had an affair with a married woman, novelist Sally Emerson, who had been separated from her husband. Later, Adams would dedicate his novel Life, the Universe and Everything to her. When Emerson returned to her husband, Adams was introduced to Jane Belson by friends and they carried on a stormy on again, off again, relationship. The two lived in Los Angeles as Adams worked on a movie deal for the Hitchhiker series and then both moved back to London when the deal fell through. In 1991, they married and had one daughter, Polly Jane Rocket Adams. The Adams family then found a home in Santa Barbara, CA, where they lived until Adams died of a heart attack in 2001. He was only 49 years old.

Adams is best known for the Hitchhiker Guide series, which started as a radio comedy series before being developed into a “trilogy” of five novels that sold more than 15 million copies during his lifetime. The books were then adapted into a television series, many stage plays, a comic book and a computer game. In 2005, Hitchhikers became a feature film. The author is also known for being a story editor on the BBC television series, Dr. Who. He worked on Dr. Who for two seasons, sending actor Tom Baker into a whirlwind of story arcs that are still watched by avid fans. He had a second radio series known as Dirk Gently which was also adapted into a novel, much as his first series was. Adams work in UK radio is commemorated in the Radio Academy’s Hall of Fame.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a story about a book within a book. The Guide is an ebook that is powered by an intelligent computer that contains all the information that a traveler might need when bumping around the Milky Way. Interwoven in the novels, the Guide pops in and gives interesting and hilarious facts about various places, people and the flora and fauna of the planets you might visit. You might say that the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a main character all to itself and is the driving force of the story.

The story begins just before the Earth is about to be demolished to make way for a galactic freeway. Arthur Dent is about to lose his house and is fighting with the demolishing crew that has shown up on his doorstep in order to save his home. Enter his long time friend of 15 years, Ford Prefect, a man that Arthur had known as an out of work actor. Actually, Ford is an alien and a researcher for the revised edition of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Ford has been informed that the Earth is about to be destroyed and whisks Arthur off world in time to save his life. Thus begins the pair’s journey through space, aided by helpful quotes from the Hitchhiker’s guide. For instance: “A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.” More zany and mind bending quotes ensue as the hitchhikers, Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent, go about the galaxy trying to learn the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

Arthur and Ford are joined in their travels by Zaphod Beeblebrox, a two headed and three armed ex-flower child who also happens to be the president of the galaxy; Trillian, who is Zaphod’s girlfriend and also a girl that Arthur had tried to pick up at a cocktail party in England; Marvin the depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a graduate student who searches for the ball-point pens he has lost down through the years; and Slartibartfast, a planetary coastline designer who was responsible for the fjords of Norway. They travel in Zaphod’s spaceship, called The Heart of Gold, which runs on an improbability drive.

What I find interesting about the development of this book is that it started out as a radio play and from this, the novels were born. Quotes from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy appear all over pop culture and it became a large influence in the science fiction community of the last few decades. We still talk about these books, laugh over them, and wonder if we should call them classics. Are they too silly to be considered a classic book or not? I don’t think so. Any book that impacts a culture, that makes you think and re-evaluate the world you live in, is certainly a novel to think of as a classic. I can whole heartedly recommend this series of novels as ones you should add to your reading list.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Book CoverThe Hitchhiker’s Guide Series:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Life, the Universe and Everything
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
Mostly Harmless
And Another Thing…
(written by Eoin Colfer by request of Adams’ widow Jane Belson)

Book Review: Tarzan of the Apes

Book Name: Tarzan of the Apes
Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs
First Published: 1912

Edgar Rice Burroughs was born in Chicago, Illinois. He attended many schools in the area and when he came of age, enlisted with the 7th U.S. Calvary in Fort Grant, Arizona Territory. After being diagnosed with a heart problem, he was discharged in 1897.

Burroughs had trouble finding and keeping a job during his younger years. He worked many low paying jobs including that of being a pencil sharpener wholesaler. During this time he began to read pulp fiction novels in his spare time. He felt that he could turn out a story as good as what he was reading and began to write stories of his own. His first novel became the first of the Barsoom series, A Princess of Mars, which was followed quickly by two sequels. They were his break-out novels and brought him fame as a pulp fiction author. At the same time, he also created the Tarzan of the Apes series and it would prove to be his most popular character and series overall. He would go on to write 24 Tarzan novels during his writing career and the series would not only spawn many movies, radio dramas and comic books, but the character of Tarzan would become an icon of pop culture. Tarzan made Edgar Rice Burroughs writing fortune.

In 1915, Burroughs purchased a large ranch in north Los Angeles, CA which he named “Tarzana” in honor of his Tarzan novels and there he lived with his family and wrote his books for many years. In 1927, the community that sprang up around his ranch voted to adopt that name for their town and it still holds that name to this day. The Tarzana ranch is currently run by the Burroughs estate.

Burroughs served as a war correspondent during World War II, but after the war ended, his health problems caught up with him and he died of a heart attack in 1950. During his life-time, he wrote and published almost 80 novels.

Tarzan of the Apes is the first of a long series of novels about John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, who is born in the western coastal jungles of Africa to marooned parents who are killed shortly after his birth. Clayton is adopted as an infant by the she-ape Kala and is renamed “Tarzan” which means “white skin” in the ape language. He is raised as an ape. The apes in the novel are not gorillas, but a species of ape that was invented by the author, who have a complex culture and language of their own. Tarzan feels alienated from the other apes due to his physical differences. Eventually, he discovers his biological parents’ cabin where he learns of other humans like himself from picture books. Tarzan teaches himself to read and write via a dictionary that was part of his parent’s meager library.

As time goes by, an tribe of humans settles in the ape’s jungle and Kala is killed by one of their hunters. Tarzan takes revenge for the death of his adopted mother and begins an antagonistic relationship with the tribe, raiding their village for weapons and pulling cruel pranks on them. The humans are unnerved by Tarzan and regard him as an evil spirit. Tarzan’s reputation among the apes grows and Kerchak, the leader of the apes, grows jealous Tarzan’s prowess. Finally, the two do battle and Tarzan kills Kerchak and assumes his place as king of the apes.

Meanwhile, a party of Europeans are marooned on the coast, including Jane Porter, the first white woman that Tarzan has ever seen. Tarzan saves Jane from the dangers of the jungle and falls in love with her. He does not know that he is an English lord in his own right, nor that another in Jane’s party is his cousin, William Clayton, who has claimed Tarzan’s title and ancestral estate since John Clayton is presumed dead.

Tarzan rescues a French Naval Officer named Paul D’Arnot who teaches Tarzan how to speak French and how to behave among white men. He also serves as a travel guide to Tarzan to take him to the nearest colonial outposts when Tarzan decides to follow after Jane. It is D’Arnot that discovers Tarzan’s true identity by studying the remains of Tarzan’s parent’s cabin.

Eventually, Tarzan follows Jane all the way to Wisconsin where she is planning on marrying William Clayton. There Tarzan must make a choice, claim his inheritance as an English Lord, or conceal and renounce his heritage for the sake of the woman he loves.

My introduction to Tarzan was a simple one. I grew up in a small town on the edge of nowhere. There was not much to do as a teen, but fortunately our public library was an hour’s bicycle ride from my home. I spent many an afternoon staying out of the rain at the library reading books. One of the authors that had a great deal of influence on me as a young reader was Edgar Rice Burroughs. During this time period, his novels had been going through a major reprinting and our public library was filled with all of his series. So my rainy world was filled with stories of Barsoom, The Land that Time Forgot, and Tarzan of the Apes. I found the first Tarzan novels to be good, especially Tarzan’s origin story, but later I feel that the series lost some of its steam. ERB mixed Tarzan in with the other series that he wrote, including Barsoom and Pellucidar, which watered down the original concept of the apeman. Also, perhaps as a young woman, I did not relate to Tarzan as much as my male counterparts, although I did enjoy reading about Jane Porter. I had learned of Tarzan via the movies first, the character has become an pop culture icon of our time after all, and yet the actual novel is richer and more interesting than what the movies distilled. It is a book well worth reading even if you are not a fan of pulp fiction.

Tarzan of the Apes Book Cover 1912Tarzan of the Apes is available for free download at Project Gutenberg. I hope that you will consider adding it to your reading list as well as other Edgar Rice Burroughs novels. His ideas have stuck around for a long time and you’ll see signs of his original ideas laced in many of the novels and movies we create today. You owe it to yourself to view the original material where these concepts came from.

Book Review: The Forever War

Book Name: The Forever War
Author: Joe Haldeman
First Published: 1974
Nebula Award winner, 1975; Hugo and Locus SF Awards winner, 1976

Joe Haldeman, an American author, traveled a great deal as a child, living mainly in Anchorage, Alaska and Bethesda, Maryland. He married Mary Gay Potter (who inspired the name of the main character’s love interest in The Forever War) in 1965. Haldeman received his BS degree in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Maryland in 1967. That same year, he was drafted into the United States Army as a Combat Engineer and served a tour of duty in Vietnam. He was wounded in combat and received a Purple Heart. The ideas of the military and the culture shock that soldiers go through when returning from war in his award winning novel The Forever War were inspired by this combat experience. In 1975, he earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Currently, Joe Haldeman resides in either Gainesville, Florida or Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since 1983 he has been an Adjunct Professor teaching writing at MIT. He is a lifetime member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), and a past-president. In addition to being an award-winning writer, Haldeman is also a painter.

The Forever War begins with Private William Mandella, a physics student who is conscripted for an elite task force in the United Nations Exploratory Force that is being put together to fight a war with an alien species known as the Taurans. These aliens had discovered a human colony ship and attacked it and the people of Earth want revenge.

Mandella is sent first to Missouri and then to Charon, the last planet in our Sun’s solar system for basic training. Many of the young, genius soldiers are killed due to accidents in the hostile environments and the use of live ammo in training. Once they are certified for combat, they are sent into battle via wormholes called “collapsars” which allow UNEF ships to travel thousands of light-years in an instant for the passengers, but with relativistic consequences.

The UNEF’s forces first meeting with the Taurans takes place on a planet orbiting the star Epsilon Aurigae. It becomes a massacre, with the unarmed and unresisting Taurans being wiped out. The fighting continues with the Taurans gaining on them as the aliens deploy increasingly advanced weaponry against the earth soldiers. Mandella lives through his first two year tour of duty and is discharged back to Earth, along with his fellow soldier and lover Marygay Potter. The 21st century soldiers discover that while only two years have passed for them, several decades have passed on Earth. Mandella experiences culture shock as he attempts to re-enter a world where unemployment is high, rationing and violence is more commonplace, and homosexuality is encouraged by most governments as a hedge against overpopulation.

Mandella tries to find work as an instructor on Luna, but the military reassigns him to combat command, treating him more like a cog in a machine. He accepts the return to combat as being better than remaining on a planet where he doesn’t fit in and many of his fellow soldiers feel the same way. He survives the next four years of military service, almost more due to luck than any other reason. In time, he becomes the oldest surviving soldier in the war, gaining high rank due to seniority. He is separated from Marygay by UNEF’s plans and awaits to command soldiers who speak a language unrecognizable to him, who have a homogenized ethnicity and are exclusively homosexual because of the centuries of time he has passed via relativity. The men hate him because they must learn 21st century English to speak with him and the other senior staff and because he is heterosexual.

Returning to combat, Mandella and his soldiers battle to survive what is touted as the last conflict of the centuries long war. The time dilation continues back home. In the centuries that pass while Mandella fights, humankind develops cloning which results in a new collective species that calls itself Man. The new collective discovers that the Taurans are also a species of clones that communicate in a similar way that the new humans do. When Man gains the ability to communicate with the Taurans, it discovers that the Taurans were not originally responsible for the destruction of the colony vessels that led to the start of the war. The information renders the millennium-old conflict meaningless and the war is over. The soldiers are decommissioned, but there is no real place for them in the new order since they are not clones.

Man decides that a backup plan is needed in case the new cloned species of human proves to be a mistake. Several colonies of old-fashioned, heterosexual humans are established. Mandella travels to one of these, called “Middle Finger”. There he is reunited with his love, Marygay who had been using time dilation to age at a slower rate so that she might have a chance of being alive when Mandella arrives.

The Forever War remains as bright and relevant today as it did when it was written 35 years ago. At the time, it must have been thought of as a satirical send-up to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, considering that it was about a futuristic military with spaceflight, futuristic weapons and written from the point of view of a soldier, yet retained an anti-war theme and even featured a romance. The explanation of the effects of relativistic time dilation on the lives of the soldiers that experienced it was a first, making this a brilliant piece of hard science fiction. It is a book that has stayed with me for many years since I first read it during college. If you are a reader or writer of science fiction, it is a novel that you need to experience. It is a true classic.

The Forever War Book CoverThe Forever War series:

The Forever War (1974) (Nebula Award winner, 1975; Hugo and Locus SF Awards winner, 1976)
Forever Peace (1997)
Forever Free (1999)
“A Separate War” (2006, short story)
“Forever Bound” (2010, short story)