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Camouflage Mass Market Paperback – July 26, 2005

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ace; Reprint edition (July 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441012523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441012527
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 0.9 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #637,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In 2019, a mysterious, egg-shaped artifact is discovered on the ocean floor off the coast of Samoa. Denser than any known material, the object defies all attempts to either break through or communicate with it. Marine biologist Russell Sutton, whose last major feat was raising the Titanic, takes charge of the excavation, hoping to make a fortune by capitalizing on the artifact's probable extraterrestrial origin. Sutton little suspects that his destiny will soon intertwine with a pair of shape-shifting--and apparently immortal--aliens. One, known as the changeling, has been on Earth millions of years, assuming every identity from shark to human being, and slowly learning to love. The other, called the chameleon, has excelled in warlike roles and delights in killing. Neither knows of the other's existence, but their slowly merging paths will meet in a stunning climax that determines their ultimate fates--and that of the artifact. Award-winning sf veteran Haldeman proves as engaging a storyteller as ever, especially given this book's irresistible premise and page-turning action. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Haldeman trips through history wearing alien goggles but his message is all about human nature." —Entertainment Weekly

"An extremely intelligent thriller." —Washington Post

More About the Author

Joe Haldeman has served twice as president of the Science Fiction Writers of America and is currently an adjunct professor teaching writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Customer Reviews

It is not a good thing when the alien character appears more human than the humans.
Joe Haldeman has excelled at remaining true to the genre, writing thought provoking science fiction wrapped around interesting stories.
This could have been a much better book but I got the sense that the Author was rushing to get to the end.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Conrad J. Obregon TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 19, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
There is a sub-genre of science fiction that I like to think of as the alien-encounter procedural. Among its most famous of members is Arthur C. Clarke's "Rendezvous with Rama". Humans meet a new species of alien and must figure out what procedures to follow to make some kind of contact. Emphasis is on the technology of contact, with suspense created by the unknown nature of the aliens. Often there is no emphasis on character development or illuminating human society by the strange circumstances. To maintain my interest the twists of the encounter or the solutions required must really be clever.

All this is by way of saying that when I encountered "Camouflage", I expected just such a story and had set my techno-bableometer to dampen. Boy, was I surprised!

Instead the story is told from the point of view of the alien and explores one of the most basic of literary questions, "What does it mean to be human?"

Joe Haldeman's writing is simple and direct and he does not search for colorful language. Instead, he weaves together three separate story lines, each with its own time scale, that come together in the finale. Occasionally you might think the author was moving into irrelevant areas but ultimately he brings the unities home. Moreover, at the same time as the main character is developing, Haldeman uses the device of the doppelganger, that is, a parallel personality, to contrast with the character of the hero. Moreover, he sets the story against an historical perspective of the last two thirds of the twentieth century, with a major portion of the story set against the fall of the Philippines and the horror of the Bataan death march at the beginning of World War II.
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69 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Brad Shorr on August 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Joe Haldeman is one of the top sci-fi writers around. This novel contains three interwoven stories:

1. A sympathetic shape-changer who has lived on earth for millions of years, but only as a human from the 1930's on.

2. An unrelated and malevolent shape-changer who's been around as long as man, whose favorite human is Josef Mengele.

3. A mysterious and impregnable metal artifact dredged up from the ocean floor by a science reasearch team in Samoa, drawing the attention of both aliens.

Thematically, the book is fascinating. The decidedly non-human characters highlight oddities of our behavior we simply take for granted, like courting rituals and various aspects of sexual and romantic love.

The plot, unfortunately, doesn't measure up. JH starts out strong, neatly interweaving the three stories, sweeping through time and setting up a profound mystery with the artifact. But eventually these stories bog down as JH concentrates on a love angle, pretty much dropping the more interesting (to me anyway) exploration of the artifact and the nature of the evil shape-changer. A rather contrived ending ties it all together, but I hope he does a sequel to further develop his intriguing ideas.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Sickbobby on August 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
With his last two novels - the very under-rated "The Coming" and his psuedo-alternate history "Guardian" - Joe Haldeman has taken the short but sweet approach to telling his story; a long and winding build-up which leads to the short, sharp ending/twist. I loathe to describe it as an long story or joke with a sharp punchline at the end, but the comparison seems apt. This approach has so far worked for Haldeman due to his strong approach in developing his characters through a time period based narrative. However, in "Camouflage", it seems that Haldeman is starting to get a bit lax.

The year is 2019 and marine biologist Russell Sutton is working in the Pacific with his company that specialises in deep-ocean salvaging (his crew achieved fame through their rising of The Titanic). Russell is approached by Jack, a retired naval officer who enlists him to retrieve a mysterious oval object lying off the coast of Samoa. In the second storyline, we follow the "Changeling", an alien that has been on Earth since the dawn of evolution. Having taken the form of marine animals for most of its time, the Changeling takes on a human form in the 1930's and begins its journey to learn about humans.

The secondary storyline of the alien's development over a period of a century is typical Haldeman - an entertaining memoir like account of events and happenings that brings us in to liking the character. However, problems arise when we jump back to the present with Russell and Jack. These characters are less developed than the Changeling and in the end they come across as one-dimensional characters. It is not a good thing when the alien character appears more human than the humans.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Vedder on August 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Haldeman is on my short list of all time great authors, but his last few books haven't always met that standard. With Camouflage I feel Haldeman has found his old magic, but at the same time I can see him moving forward picking style elements used in books like The Coming and Forever Peace much more effectively here. Best of all the Haldeman we don't always see, the one who writes a damn good mystery is back in force. It makes want to go back and read All My Sins again.
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