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The Coming (Ace Science Fiction) Hardcover – December 1, 2000

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Product Details

  • Series: Ace Science Fiction
  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Hardcover; 1st edition (December 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441007694
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441007691
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,630,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Joe Haldeman plays tag in The Coming, as the narrative is passed from character to character in a seamless, if ultimately disappointing, tale set in 2054. Haldeman, whose honors include the Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell awards, puts Gainesville, Florida, and 20 or so characters under the microscope to study a chain of events in the wake of a local astronomy professor receiving a mysterious message that may be from aliens.

Professor Aurora Bell receives a message from space that simply states, "We're coming." The message appears to be alien, and according to Professor Bell's calculations, the vessel that sent it is headed toward Earth and will arrive in three months. As the local population and the rest of the world begin to examine what a visitation from a superior alien force might mean, speculation looms about whether or not the message is a hoax. The arrival approaches, and Professor Bell and those around her become embroiled in the media circus. The politics and intrigue of the situation take on a life of their own.

Haldeman paints a vivid picture in The Coming of a world on the brink of another world war, where homosexuality is illegal, technology is advanced, and yet, humans really haven't changed that much. The tension in Florida is a microcosm that reflects the larger picture of Earth in trouble. But The Coming doesn't really get interesting until the final third of the book, and even then the ending is disappointing. Every few pages the story moves on to a different character, so most of the them are a bit flat. Haldeman has focused the story so tightly on one city that all the important events take place off stage and the characters have little to do but react. --Kathie Huddleston

From Publishers Weekly

Acclaimed Nebula and Hugo award-winner Haldeman delivers a disappointingly weak tale of the turmoil wrought by a message from outer space. Thin on plot, character and suspense, very little about this novel convinces, except details such as the prevalence of Spanish phrases in casual conversation and some techno gizmos. Clear as astronomy Prof. Rory Bell's name, the message "We're coming" is broadcast from only a 10th of a light-year away to mid-21st-century Earth. The message senders will arrive in three short months and will tolerate no attempt to block their "peaceful" landing. While Rory engages in political battles within her university and against the U.S. president's hawkish reaction to possible alien invasion, another, wider-scale battle among the European nations seems destined to launch WWIII. Meanwhile, a local mobster threatens to expose Rory's husband's illegal homosexuality, which would destroy both his and Rory's credibility. Unfortunately, relating the narrative by more than 20 different characters drains any tension from the story and results in disjointed, stalled storytelling. The concluding revelation about the aliens' nature and intentions, threadbare from overuse by other writers, arrives mercifully quickly. (Dec. 11) Forecast: Haldeman's widespread and well-deserved reputation for exciting and thoughtful work plus marketing to his core SF audience will put lots of books on shelves, but fans of the author and newcomers to his work will withhold the positive word of mouth that can help propel titles to major success.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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

"The Coming" is not a bad book; it is just not a particularly good one.
Patrick L. Randall
The story seemed a bit rushed and disconnected, part of which comes from switching to another character every few pages.
Paul Carroll
This book has a meandering plot line, no memorable characters, and the ending was very weak.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Capehart VINE VOICE on December 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The one star review is a little unfair and quite unspecific. There are superficial similarities between this book and Contact by Sagan. They do both occur in the near future and they do both concern female astrophysicists who recieve messages from space and run into opposition, but I think the literary world can support two such works. There the similarities do end. Haldeman's future is scarily believable, and as usual deftly sketched out with a minimum of SF flapdoodlery. The focus is on the story and the characters not the era.
There are a couple main characters but the book belongs to their supporting cast as much as to Dr. Bell and her music professor husband. One of the most enjoyable parts of this book is its narrative style; all of the characters hand off the narration of the story chapter to chapter. One character comes into contact with another and the point of view character changes. Excellent way to see the world of the book and its characters from all sides. We do get to see the characters warts and all.
There are many twists in the story, and none of them ring untrue. Sure you know something's fishy...sure you think one of the characters isn't what he seems, but you don't know what or in what way...until the end, and it is a good surprise ending (but not a total surprise--it's all there and rings true).
And the best thing is we don't come to the end (as we did with -the movie- Contact) and find out the aliens are her dead father! What a gyp!) So anyway, this book is much better than the other reviewer would lead you to believe. It is well worth the time. And I will say so in my review which I will now write for a review journal (which shall remain nameless).
Go! Read this book. It's Good.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Tipple VINE VOICE on March 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Set a little over fifty years in the future, this novel finds our planet in not the best of shape. As many others have theorized, global warming has taken place and coastal cities are either gone or surrounded by large dikes in a slowly failing attempt to keep the waters out of the streets. With the rise in temps, the UV rays have become a major worry along with the resultant increase in skin cancers, as well as other types. Regional conflicts have become more heated while at the same time, through the use of technology; the United States has become much more repressive. The FBI has become a law unto themselves and something known as the cube, has replaced television. But, while things have changed, some things like dirty politics, extortion and murder are all still common.
All three are set into motion by the ominous message recorded by Astronomy Professor Aurora "Rory" Bell in Gainesville, Florida. In a repeated gamma burst transmission, the same message is sent over and over again-"We're coming." They apparently are as scientists on the moon confirm the transmission as well as the fact that it came from deep space. Clearly from beyond where any human spacecraft has gone, the ship seems to be three months out from arriving on Earth. In fact, it appears that it will arrive on New Year's Day, 2056 and the event is quickly dubbed "The Second Coming" by the media.
The message and imminent arrival of an alien craft swings into motion a number of events over the next three months as detailed in the book, including the eventual arrival of the alien craft. Some events have a direct relation to the arrival, while many, seen through numerous characters do not.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on January 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
First off, the writing in this novel is superb. Haldeman changes the point of view among a dozen characters without ever skipping a beat. Furthermore, he does so without shorting the development of any one character; they are all well drawn, in part because we see them through the eyes of so many other people.
That said, this novel gets off to a great start, and really does well until the last twenty pages or so. At that point, much like Haldeman's "Forever Free", it begins to feel rushed. The book ends on a note that is more confusing than anything else. You really lose the feel for the character's motivations, and there is a lot of activity that is barely explained.
All in all, this is an enjoyable, well written novel, that is somewhat let down by its ending.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Rick Martsen on January 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Wow what a ride! I'm teeling you this is book is going to win some awards! I think Haldeman had better dust off some space next to his colletion of Nebulas and Hugos, this book knock my socks off. I have read most of Haldeman's novels and I would rate this one his best science fiction works in many years.
The primary plot is pretty easy to explain, but the story goes much deeper: Set fifty years in the future, a professor in a quiet Florida college town studying deep space gamma ray anomalies disovers a very unnatural message in a burst originating just outside the Solar System: "We're coming." The implications of this message are of course incredible. The reactions of the characters feels entirely real. People don't go bonkers. Stores open, the mail gets delivered, oh, and aliens may be showing up on New Years day.
As the story unfolds it has as much to do with the affect the message has on the characters in the novel as the mystery of the message itself. The novel has two protagonist, but it is almost an ensemble piece. The story is told from many perspectives and the transitions from character to character are handled in an unusual way that I really liked.
Here are the high points of the novel for me:
I really liked the way Haldeman makes 2054 feel like a natural extension of today. Most science fiction authors make even the near future seem alien and unnatural. Haldeman's future is very believable, I didn't have to strain to see the canvas he was painting for us.
The characters are deep and well written. You could easily re-read the novel and discover how much things you learn late in the novel illumiate small character traits introduced ealier. I guarantee you haven't met protaginist like the couple in this novel!
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