Now, upon re-reading the updated edition in 2014, it strikes me how well this book brings you into the psyche of a 'career soldier' caught in this hellish merry-go-round as he is resurrected to fight in wars again and again.
The differences in the world each time our hero wakes up, and the ways in which the program gets perverted until there is no escape (just endless war), sucked me in. I find it interesting that he assumed our next big war would be a terrorist action, but that he figured it'd be in Africa.
Then add the military aspect of how a fighting soldier will adapt to waking up in a future world and fighting...simply amazing.
The differences in the world each time our hero wakes up, and the ways in which the program gets perverted until there is no escape (just endless war), sucked me in.
After Vietnam, America gets involved in a big war in Africa that is apparently pretty brutal. Roughly 100 "volunteers" are given a bonus and three weeks leave if they agree to be frozen cryogenically only to be unthawed at some point in the future to fight a future war when the time comes. Hawk and the other two decide to do it, with some reservations, and are frozen. They leave the army again, only to find that the politicians have seized all of their assets while they were frozen and have taken their pay away from them. Instantly they're awakened, ready to fight another war. And Hawk sees Green die. Until he finds out the next time around that Green and Symington, who also died, are both there, ready to fight. They're immortal, always ready to fight wars for whoever commands it. Countries change, alliances change, aliens appear, more worlds are discovered, wars are fought everywhere for hundreds of years and they all live and die a million times over. But in the process of what transpires in this book, as Green brings up, what has happened to their souls? This book takes a hard look at a number of things and the answer(s) it provides isn't always pretty and it portends some awful possibilities for our future.
Through the centuries, he becomes even more alienated from society to the point that all of future civilization is incomprehensible to him. The Eternity Brigade moves through centuries with the changing forms of warfare and civilization. I appreciate the time-place disorientation that Hawker experiences with each incarnation, and the idea that future society can only become more strange and incomprehensible. But the future setting alongside the sombre tone often feels anachronistic. The Eternity Brigade is a thrilling read with a great central concept. Its worth reading to explore its engaging ideas about the human cost of war and its vision of dystopia, but dont expect too much from the characters or the world-building.
He received a Bachelors degree in Astronomy from UCLA and worked as a civilian space scientist for the U.S. Navy for a few years after leaving college, but has made his living as a writer/editor most of his life. His first wife was fellow author Kathleen Sky, with whom he co-wrote the first edition of the highly acclaimed nonfiction book The Business of Being a Writer .