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Camouflage Mass Market Paperback – July 26, 2005
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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
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I read this book very quickly, partly because I had insomnia one night, but mostly because the book is very interesting. Also, it has short chapters which make you think to yourself: I'll just read one more.
But then there's one more after that, and one more after that. Pretty soon, you're done.
I liked the three interspersed timelines, one for the current time where people are examining the artifact, one for the evil Camouflage, and one for the increasingly sympathetic Changeling. Each of these stories is interesting in its own right, although Camouflage is less developed than the others. There are some unresolved issues at the end of the book and they do nage at me, but not enough for me to downgrade my rating.
This book deserves the Nebula.
Two shape-shifting aliens have been roaming the Earth for millenia, imitating whatever life forms are most beneficial for their survival, mostly humans for the last few centuries. The book jumps back and forth between their pasts, especially in World War II, and the future where a mysterious object has been found buried in a deep ocean trench under million-year old coral.
In Haldeman's hands the story is fresh, thanks to his creation of two very different (from each other as well as from humans) aliens who quite possibly could be immortal. Both have been around long enough to have greeted mankind's first descent out of the trees. One has lived in the ocean, passing time as a great white shark, a killer whale and a dolphin until he (she? it?) takes human form and walks out onto a California beach in 1931. The other has much more experience with the human race and the concept of war.
When the artifact is discovered and taken to Samoa, the stage is set for the aliens and a small group of researchers to finally meet. But don't assume you can guess where the story goes from there. Haldeman is a master of taking readers' expectations and turning them upside down and inside out. He also tells the story in such straight-forward writing that you don't realize until you've finished the book that it was far deeper than you first thought. This is definitely one of those books I'll be saving to read again ... and I have no doubt I'll find new ideas and insights the second time around.
At just 289 pages, Camouflage is a model of compact writing and plotting. While lacking Haldeman's trademark humor, the writing is still snappy and the dialogue believable. The main characters are fleshed out enough to make one care about them, and the plot "mysteries" stay hidden until literally the last few pages when all is revealed. No red herrings, all was there to figure out if one was paying attention. When I had only 10 pages to go, I was thinking that there was no way that Haldeman was going to be able to resolve everything fairly and to my satisfaction. I thought that I was either going to find out that this was "to be continued" although I was pretty sure that I had not seen any sequels in Haldeman's bibliography or else the ending was going to be lame. Neither was true.
This is a unique first contact story and a very skilled and original description of totally alien psychology interacting with various human intellectual and emotional behaviors. A lightning fast and excellent read.
Most recent customer reviews
Then it was like the author realized that he had reached some sort of limit on length and just ended the story as fast as...Read more
I need nine more words, I loved the book.