Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman
Haldeman writes a good soldier’s tale, a passable science fiction story, and an interesting, if confusing tale of mankind’s ascension to the next stage of evolution. In Forever Peace we are introduced to Julian, an advanced physicist and a “soldierboy” who remotely pilots a giant mech for the US Alliance. The Alliance is at war with all of the brown people of the world, and uses its massive technological superiority to crush their various pathetic attempts at terrorist rebellion. Each such terrorist action is played out in the media as if it somehow justified the massive war-machine retaliation that invariably ensues.
All of this works well enough as a meditation on the War on Terror, but what makes this a bit more interesting than a simple sci-fi reflection on Gore Vidal’s notions in Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace is how early it was written. In 1997 the “9/11 Might-Have-Been An Inside Job” notion floated here (nuked Atlanta) and much of the mildly cynical language surrounding Julian’s musings on the war effort ending up seeming a bit prescient.
The novel takes a turn for the strange with the notion of a sort of group mind as therapy takes center stage. From then on, we’re concerned mostly with the logistics of a plot to bring this type of transformative pacification to the entire world. All of this sort of dribbles out over the last hundred pages of the novel, with a few good scenes of action and a lot of fuzzy hope that humanity may be on the cusp of evolving away from the aggressive and murderous tendencies that comprise parts of our worst nature.