In the year 2043, the Ngumi War rages. Limited nuclear strikes have been used on Atlanta and two enemy cities, but the war goes on, fought by 'soldierboys' - indestructible war machines operated by remote control by soldiers hundreds of miles away.
Julian Class is one of these soldiers, and for him war is truly hell. The psychological strain of being jacked-in to his soldierboy - and the genocidal results - are becoming too much to bear. Now he and his companion, Dr Amelia Harding, have made a terrifying scientific discovery, which could literally take the universe back to square one. Except that for Julian, the discovery isn't so much terrifying as tempting...
Winner of the Hugo Award for best novel, 1998
Winner of the Nebula Award for best novel, 1998
Winner of the John W. Campbell Award for best novel, 1998
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.