I’m going to start off unusually today, by quoting myself from when I told you about Bryan Singer adapting Robert Heinlein’s ‘The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress’ two months ago:
Now, can someone PLEASE adapt Joe Haldeman’s Forever War – or do we still need to figure out how to make an anti-war sci-fi novel work?
Thank you, it looks like someone has. According to The Wrap Warner Bros have outbid Sony to acquire the rights to the project based on the classic sci-fi masterpiece. Channing Tatum is attached as lead and will also produce along with Peter Kiernan (Mad Love) and Roy Lee (The Lego Movie); Jon Spaihts (Prometheus) has written the script while no director has yet been confirmed. I’m quite happy with Tatum as lead as he’s definitely comfortable with action and he’s also shown in recent years he’s quite underrated when it comes to actual acting chops too.
For those unfamiliar with the novel, Joe Haldeman’s ‘The Forever War’ was released in 1974 and won the trifecta of science fiction awards in the following two years – the Nebula, Hugo and Locus Awards. It’s a staunchly anti-war novel that was heavily influenced by Haldeman’s experiences both during and after the Vietnam War and deals with the ultimate futility of war and the effects it has on those who fight; the sense of alienation and isolation they feel when attempting to rejoin the society they were fighting for.
It follows a young physics student William Mandella who is recruited into a United Nations Exploratory Force in the 1990’s (the future!) to fight against the alien Taurans, who were discovered following the destruction of human colony ships, until the eventual end of the war over 1,000 years later. While according to his perspective only two years pass during the course of his first deployment, due to the time dilation effects of space travel decades have actually passed back on Earth and the returning soldiers have to deal with an unfamiliar home world and the loss of loved ones left behind.
This leads to many soldiers opting to reenlist as the military is familiar, and worsening the sense of future-shock every time they return to Earth over the course of the war as the planet’s culture evolves while they remain essentially static. Some of those changes over the centuries include racial homogeneity, homosexuality supplanting heterosexuality, and eventually even genetic engineering that creates a new form of humanity – a hive-mind of telepathic clones known simply as Man. Basically all the worst fears of your conservative old uncle and Fox News come to life.
There is also, of course, a love interest as Mandella tries to stay in contact with fellow soldier Marygay Potter over the course of the war as they attempt to manage time dilation effects to age at the same relative rate.
While I’m thrilled this is in development as it’s one of my favourite sci-fi novels, I hope they don’t focus too much on the military space adventure side of the novel to the detriment of the social critique, as that’s where the meat of the novel lies. It’s something I feel would work better as a TV series as opposed to a movie as there’d be much more time to explore the issues it raises. Still, I’m excited – how about you?
Last Updated: May 5, 2015