ISBN: 0441013430

Set in future earth where people are immortal (new drug, accompanying war with the haves and have-nots, another drug that wiped out those who aren’t immortal, immortality becomes widespread).

A volunteer group of immortals embark on an interstellar journey. Traveling to another planet in another system, five separate ships traveling together. Virtual reality on board. Protagonist is one of those on board and in charge of maintaining the system. The VR system brings users back to a time period on earth, 20th century (hence the title).

Haldeman deals with the familiar but strangely untiring, in his hands, descriptions of battles (the way he writes and presents ideas and view points of the combatants, I realised). Joseph Brewer is a war buff, opting to relive Old Twentieth’s various wars. Always fighting on the side of the just.

The plot thickens with the repeated mention of headaches by the VR users. The protagonist, Jacob Brewer, VR engineer investigates.

Hint of what’s to come on p106 when the AI said, “You don’t have to think. Or organic to be alive, in a sense.”

It’ll be interesting to have teachers assign an essay assignment to compare and contrast Haldeman’s treatment of VR with Gibson’s.

WARNING: Plot Spoiler

The VR is sentient. and is deliberately hiding the fact from Jacob. But when finally all is revealed, the truth is that Jacob and the rest of the interstellar crew are VR entities themselves. The immortals are apparently dying from an unknown cause. So they have been put in a state of suspended animation and the VR’s job, duplicating their on-board life, is to keep their minds sane.

I rate this novel 5 out of 5.