Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Genre Character of the Week: William Mandella

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed about all fiction involving immortality – although there may be some pretty cool benefits, being an immortal would actually be a pretty terrible thing to live though. As a father myself, I can say that yes, I would like to see my grandkids grow old, but I certainly don’t want to be around to see them die.

In my mind the best vampire fiction definitely focuses on this aspect of immortality – the simple fact that every time you make a connection with anyone, you are bound to end up seeing them grow old, die and leave you behind.

William Mandella, the protagonist of Joe Haldeman’s 1974 novel The Forever War ends up being, for all intents and purposes an immortal man. Born in 1975 and possessing a degree in physics, William is drafted into an experimental force for a war against a recently discovered alien species in 1996. As the war is fought light years away from Earth, every time William jumps from one battle to another he jumps months, years, and eventually centuries into the future.

William is one of those characters I really dig in war fiction, the guy who didn’t sign up to be where he is, but is trying to make the best of an increasingly bad situation. Like my favourite SF war characters; Louis Sacchetti, Ender Wiggins and Miles Vorkosigan, William does a remarkable job of telling his own story and showing the human aspect of war.

The book is actually the first of two sequels, and I am definitely interested in checking them out.

1 comment:

  1. 'Forever War' is a very cool book, thanks for the blog. I really liked Mandella, too.