First published in 1974, Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War is one of the stone-cold classics of American science fiction—the story of an interstellar war, which, due to the effects of faster-than-light travel and time dilation, stretches across centuries, with soldiers returning from each tour of duty to an Earth that seems less and less like home. Haldeman was drafted into the Vietnam War—where he received a Purple Heart—shortly after completing a physics degree, and his book is something of a rejoinder to the idea that hard sci-fi is inherently impersonal; it’s informed by a fascination with the possibilities of science, but also serves as a potent metaphor for the experiences of returning veterans.
Unsurprisingly, people have been trying to make a movie out of it for decades. Richard Edlund—special effects supervisor on Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Ghostbusters, and 2010—held the rights for over a quarter-century. Most recently, Ridley Scott was set to direct, with David Webb Peoples (Blade Runner, Unforgiven) penning at least one draft of the adaptation, but it never moved past the script stage. Deadline reports that the rights to the novel went on sale again recently, sending studios into a “spirited negotiation” that ended late yesterday evening, with Warner Bros. as the winner. Channing Tatum is attached to star as physics-student-turned-soldier William Mandella; Jon Spaihts, who co-wrote Prometheus and is writing the upcoming Doctor Strange, will be writing the script. At this stage, no director is attached.