Ridley Scott to Make The Forever War

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Finally somebody’s going to film this book. I’ve been whining “forever” about the absence of a Forever War movie. Now, according to Variety (by way of Ain’t It Cool), it’s in the works, with the redoubtable, apparently indestructible Ridley Scott directing.

The plot summary they give is typically lame and distorted, in the manner of Hollywood pitch meetings since time immemorial:

Book revolves around a soldier who battles an enemy in deep space for only a few months, only to return home to a planet he doesn’t recognize some 20 years later, Scott said.

But could I summarize The Forever War with some Variety scribe sticking a microphone in my face? Probably not.

But do I have such a scribe sticking a microphone in my face? I do not.

So: start with Starship Troopers. Now imagine that instead of being written by a veteran of WWII (as Robert Heinlein was), image that book being re-written by a writer who survived Vietnam (as Haldeman did). So imagine even sicker combat training. Even more brutal combat sequences. Even doper powered armor. And all this with none of the moral clarity of Starship Troopers. Instead of that holy, xenophobic zeal, imagine that the soldiers are haunted by feelings of confusion about why they’re fighting and the aliens that they’re killing, even as they kill them in ever more elaborate, insane ways.

The real twist in The Forever War (a title that just got borrowed for a book about Iraq) is Haldeman’s take on the relativistic effects of FTL travel. Because of the huge temporal distortions involved, every time a squad heads off for a battle in another star system, when they come back it’s decades or even hundreds of years later. Human society has become alien to them. The technology is unrecognizable. The premises and justifications of the war have shifted. The soldiers look like freaks to the people they fought to defend, and even though they’ve been completely disillusioned by their military service, they have no choice but to re-enlist, because that’s the only culture they recognize as home.

This is going to be so good. OK! Now somebody make Ringworld.