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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.
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. The purpose of this lengthy excursion into history is to fine tune our sense of the development of the hero.
There are a few things that stretched my belief, particularly the behavior of one of the main human characters when he learns a secret of the alien, but I allowed myself to step back from my incredulity and to see it as a further device to explore the main question.
The story moves along quickly, or at least as quickly as I could turn the pages. This may not be amongst the greatest of science fiction novels, but it certainly illustrates how a good premise and construction of a novel can not only sweep us along, but even provide food for thought.
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 possible.
I read this years ago and couldn't figure out why I had never added it to my Kindle library. Now I know. It's a shame, since I really enjoy most of Haldeman's work.
Most recent customer reviews
I need nine more words, I loved the book.
First, the writing is simple and straightforward, while textured with wit and perceptiveness, as to be easy to read yet rich and...Read more