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ITW Joe Haldeman

ITW Joe Haldeman

Actusf : Your best-known novel is The Forever War. How is it born? What was the idea you had at the beginning?
Joe Haldeman : I think every writer who has the experience of war writes about it.  I did write a "mainstream novel," WAR YEAR (which appeared in France as :  Au Service de la Guerre , Editions de l'Amitie: Rageot 1978 (trad. Patrice Duvic)  I always knew I would write a science fiction war novel, but this one started out in the most prosaic way.  I sat down and typed out "Tonight we're going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man" -- I line I remembered from army Basic Training. I just kept typing, and after about thirty pages I knew I was writing a novel.

Actusf : With hindsight, how do you regard this novel? This kind of success, is it a blessing or a curse?
Joe Haldeman : I just re-read the novel and think it's a fairly good job.  I would do a better job now.  The success I would say is about 90% blessing and 10% curse -- the curse being fans who write asking "Why can't you write another FOREVER WAR?"  My answer is "Sure, if you'll make me 27 years old again."

Actusf : Why did you return to the Eternal War with the Eternal Peace in 2001?
Joe Haldeman : FOREVER PEACE was a novel that was, in two ways, a revision of THE FOREVER WAR:  The author was 25 years older and the world was 25 years older.  Instead of the insanity of Vietnam, we had the insanity of the Gulf wars.

Actusf : Ridley Scott mentioned making a movie adaptation of the Eternal War. What is the status of this project?
Joe Haldeman : Right now, I believe Mr. Scott is still looking for a screenplay.  Some sources have said THE FOREVER WAR will be his next movie, but I haven't heard anything from his office directly.  (That's not unusual in Hollywood.  When a movie is adapted from a book, they'd just as soon the book author not be involved.)

Actusf : There is a comic adaptation with Marvano, how do you regard it?
Joe Haldeman : I love all of Marvano's adaptations.  We've done about a dozen books together.  He has a visual imagination that I lack.

Actusf : Other notable novel is All My Sins Remembered. It was about non-violence, is it a topic that always keeps you at heart?
Joe Haldeman : Much of my work has an anti-war, anti-violence text or subtext.  I suppose that's not unusual for writers who were drafted.

Actusf : Fake memories, a life that has eluded them, the choice (usually kill) taken away from him ... In this story the hero Otto is a tool, among others, not irreplaceable. Is this your vision of man?
Joe Haldeman : It's certainly true of some men and women.  In Otto's case, his ability to choose a different life was taken away from him.  That's metaphorically true of most of us, of course.  Whether we admit it or not, we value security and respectability over individuality.

Actusf : More generally you speak often of immortality. It is a topic that seems to fascinate you. What are your reasons?
Joe Haldeman : Mainly an aversion to dying.  But also, as a novelist I find the ideas of life extension and immortality deep and valuable veins to mine.

Actusf : You have studied computer science in the years 60-70. How do you consider today the new technologies?
Joe Haldeman : They are lovely and mysterious; they are horrible and mechanistic.  I suppose it depends on how well my computer is working on a given day.

Actusf : And what is the part of the Internet in your work as a writer?
Joe Haldeman : It's an invaluable research tool.  Also a regrettable time sink.  I get a lot of fan mail online, and enjoy answering it.  But I should be writing, I suppose.

Actusf : Tell us about Marsbound just released in English, but that we can not read yet in France. What this novel is about?
Joe Haldeman : It's about a young woman about fifty years from now who goes with her parents to Mars, part of a social experiment  to find out how well families can adapt to conditions there.  She hates it and gets into trouble, but eventually winds up the first ambassador to aliens.

Actusf : What are your plans? What are you working on now?
Joe Haldeman : Right now I'm working on STARBOUND, the sequel to MARSBOUND.  Also doing a bit of poetry and the occasional short story.  The next book will probably be EARTHBOUND, completing the trilogy.

Actusf : You, who imagined one of the largest war of the literature, what is your view on those that are tearing our planet, such as the Gulf War, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or conflicts in Zimbabwe and Congo? In particular, the vision we have, we, Westerners, do not seem to you as distorted as that can be apprehension on a human scale of a galactic conflict? Was it one of your goals in writing The Eternal War, establishing a parallel with what we can live on Earth?
Joe Haldeman : Our war with Iraq is illegal, ill-conceived, and doomed to failure.  Bush and Cheney should face the World Court as war criminals.  Never happen, but they should. There is much negative and not much positive to say about both sides of the Israeli-Palestine conflict.  Revenge and religion work together to make a reasonable solution unlikely.  I'm afraid it may "end" with a nuclear exchange in a war that pits Israel against a coalition of Middle Eastern interests.  If America weighs in with Israel, it could be the start of the last world war. The end of THE FOREVER WAR is not a suggestion about the way we could live on Earth.  Some people see it as a happy ending (since the main characters get back together and have a baby).  It was meant to be ambiguous and sarcastic.

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