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See also: Roger Zelazny's Amber series reading order and synopsis; 160x480

Joe Haldeman

answers the Usual Questions

Author Joe Haldeman, photo courtesy the author; 220x243

Joe Haldeman (photo courtesy the author)

Joe Haldeman is perhaps best known for his 1974 novel The Forever War.

"Tonight we're going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man." The guy who said that was a sergeant who didn't look five years older than me. So if he'd ever killed a man in combat, silently or otherwise, he'd done it as an infant.

I already knew eighty ways to kill people, but most of them were pretty noisy. I sat up straight in my chair and assumed a look of polite attention and fell asleep with my eyes open.

Much of his early work was a reflection of his experiences in the Vietnam war (during 1968-69). On his web site, he writes:

Twenty-eight years after Vietnam, the smell of roadkill still brings back the smell of days-old bodies rotting in the jungle heat.

A fascination with space has long been a part of Haldeman's life. He remembers,

My first real telescope, which my father bought under grumbling protest when I was 12 or so, had a sleek black Bakelite tube, and for years I was out almost every clear night, peering at the stars and planets and especially the Moon.

Haldeman shows that science fiction is not just glossy spaceships and aliens in space, at its best it grows out of the real human experiences of its writers.

Has your interaction with fans, for example, at conventions, affected your work?

Not too much. It's nice to meet people who read your work. But while I'm writing, I don't think about the potential audience (unless it's being written for a specific commercial purpose, which is rare).

Is there any particular incident (a letter, a meeting, a comment that stands out?

I once got a letter four pages long, rather academic but very positive, which started a correspondence that ended with him writing a Ph.D. thesis (Warbody: Joe Haldeman's Killer SF, by Tim Blackmore). I, at least, found it fascinating.

Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to?

Hemingway and Fitzgerald are obvious. Carson McCullers and Flannery O'Connor on the distaff side.

Who is the person you would most like to be trapped in a lift with? or a spaceship?

Roger Zelazny

Who is the person you would most DISlike to be trapped in a lift with? Or a spaceship?

Richard Nixon

What would you pack for space? (Is there a food, beverage, book, teddy bear, etc that you couldn't do without?)

A large cask of vintage Bordeaux. And a nice glass.

What is the most important thing you would like to get/achieve from your work?

That it continue to be fascinating to me. If I can get up every day looking forward to the day's work, that's plenty.

What is the special satisfaction of your work?

Every now and then a sentence is absolutely perfect. It chimes.

submitted by Joe Haldeman

19 August 2013

For other answers to The Usual Questions Click here

Just the facts:
Born: What, you think I was hatched? Yes, born. Oklahoma City, 2 June 1943.
Resides: Gainesville, Florida.
Bibliography/Awards: His awards are listed on his website

Web site:


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