The caption on my audio-book copy of The Forever War by Joe Haldeman states that it is...

*The author's preferred edition of the seminal SF classic for all times*

What are the other editions of this novel and how do they differ?

  • As detailed on pages ix and x of the book you (and I) have, there are three main versions. Interestingly enough, I managed to read all three versions through the years, the first (1974) one translated into Dutch. Do you want a line-by-line or paragraph-by-paragraph comparison? Because Haldeman's own explanation of the three versions seems pretty clear to me. – user45485 Aug 12 '15 at 18:58
  • @Hans: Actually, I don't have the book, just the audiobook, so I don't have the descriptions. Is there any useful summary you can provide? – ThePopMachine Aug 12 '15 at 21:00
  • Explanation for downvotes, anyone? Is it "lack of research" due to Hans' comment? Per my other comment, I don't actually have the hardcopy book for reference. – ThePopMachine Aug 12 '15 at 21:01
  • I should clarify -- for the mp3s I have, this is the embedded image. I thought it would complicate the question to explain this because Google reverse image search showed me that this really is the image from the front of some hardcopy of the book. So I just said "the caption on my copy".... technically, not exactly true. – ThePopMachine Aug 12 '15 at 21:06
  • The Forever War and it's more-or-less sequels were written by Joe Haldeman. His brother Jack Haldeman is also an excellent writer, but TFW isn't his work. – Joe L. Aug 12 '15 at 23:34

This is described in the intro to the ebook (and presumably dead-tree) version of the novel which you can read online here

I shall quote selectively;

This is the definitive version of The Forever War. There are two other versions, and my publisher has been kind enough to allow me to clarify things here.

The one you're holding in your hand is the book as it was originally written. But it has a pretty tortuous history


But Ben [Bova] rejected the middle section, a novella called "You Can Never Go Back." He liked it as a piece of writing, he said, but thought that it was too downbeat for Analog's audience. So I wrote him a more positive story and put "You Can Never Go Back" into the drawer; eventually Ted White published it in Amazing magazine, as a coda to The Forever War

At this late date, I'm not sure why I didn't reinstate the original middle when the book was accepted. Perhaps I didn't trust my own taste, or just didn't want to make life more complicated. But that first book version is essentially the Analog version with "more adult language and situations", as they say in Hollywood.

The paperback of that version stayed in print for about~ sixteen years. Then in 1991 I had the opportunity to reinstate my original version, which now appears in Britain for the first time. The dates in the book are now kind of funny; most people realize we didn't get into an interstellar war in 1996. I originally set it in that year so it was barely possible that the officers and NCOs could be veterans of Vietnam, so we decided to leave it that way, in spite of the obvious anachronisms. Think of it as a parallel universe.

  • I don't see how this link lets me read the intro. – ThePopMachine Aug 12 '15 at 21:08
  • @ThePopMachine - What happens when you click the link? – Valorum Aug 12 '15 at 21:12
  • Okay, after following the link, I need to click the magnifying glass search icon and then I can see it. – ThePopMachine Aug 12 '15 at 21:16
  • This link gets me there, if it works for you: books.google.co.uk/… – ThePopMachine Aug 12 '15 at 21:17
  • That updated tinyurl link doesn't work for me either. – ThePopMachine Aug 12 '15 at 21:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.