Joe Haldeman: Forever Peace

Dave

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This is an excellent book: At least a 9/10. Go and read it!

Unlike ‘The Forever War’, there are no bug-eyed aliens in this book, just human nature itself. Set in the not too distant future (2043) space travel is still as limited as today, but the book has almost everything else:

A futuristic war between the northern and southern hemispheres, fought with remote-controlled robotic soldierboys, in which limited nuclear strikes have occurred, but the war continues in stalemate. It is also a kind of romance, as well as a study in racism. It also has a hard SF physics concept with profound consequences for the universe itself. It concerns religious fanaticism, group consciousness, and details the personal psychological effect that war has on the combatants. Yet it is also quite gripping, and page turning, with assassins, chases, and double and triple-crosses, so to tell you more would spoil it.

If you really want a full review first try these:
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/nonfiction/forpeace.htm
http://www.sfsite.com/11a/fpeace20.htm
http://members.aol.com/misuly/haldeman.htm
http://members.aol.com/sfandfbookclub/forever_free.htm
http://www.sfreviews.com/docs/Joe Haldeman_1997_Forever Peace.htm

My only criticism would be the ending, which I thought was a little limp. I also was a bit unsold on the nature of the nanoforge technology and why the Ngumi could not have it. If St Bartholomew’s could have one without anyone knowing, I’m sure that Ngumi agents could have stolen plans for one. I thought it might be the warm fusion energy source that was the limiting factor, but then they took one down to Mexico in the back of a bus and had no energy problems getting it to work.
 

Dave

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No one read this book? You ought to.

You should also read this article:

from technovelgy.com

SWORDS - First Robots To Break Asimov's First Law Of Robotics

Next month, the US Army will be putting robot soldiers in the field in Iraq. The SWORDS (Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection Systems) robots are fully armed; when the human operator verifies that a suitable target is within sight, it fires. They are equipped with either the M249 (which fires 5.56-millimeter rounds at 750 rounds per minute) or the M240 (which fires 7.62-millimeter rounds at up to 1,000 per minute).

These robots are poised be the first working robots that are actually designed to break Isaac Asimov's First Law of Robotics:

"A robot may not injure a human being, or through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm."

The three-foot tall bots are not autonomous killing machines; they are modified Talon robots that have been used by the military for at least four years. SWORD robots are more accurate than human soldiers; the gun is mounted on a stable platform and fired electronically, eliminating trigger recoil, anticipation problems and timing the breathing cycle when firing. At present, the SWORD robot is operated with a thirty-pound control unit with two joysticks, buttons and a video screen.

According to Bob Quinn, general manager of Talon robots for Foster-Miller, Inc., this control system may be replaced with a "Gameboy" type of controller hooked up to virtual reality goggles.

The SWORDS robot is described as a "bootstrapped" effort, retrofitting weapons onto an existing platform. The military is still a long way from the Tactical Autonomous Combatant (TAC) described in a Project Alpha study "Unmanned Effects: Taking the Human out of the Loop"; TAC robots are seen as being faster and more lethal than human soldiers, and able to work in more hazardous environments. This study, which was done in 2003, saw TACs as a reality by 2025.
The Swords are being compared with Asimov robots, when they are far more similar to the soldierboys from 'Forever Peace' - strikingly so!
 
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