Spring Deals Automotive Children of Blood and Bone Casual Friday Style nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Weekly One All-New Fire 7, starting at $49.99 Prime exclusive: $24.99 for a limited time Grocery Handmade Personalized Jewelry Home and Garden Book a house cleaner for 2 or more hours on Amazon MMM MMM MMM  Echo Fire 7, starting at $49.99 Kindle Oasis AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Shop Now TG18PP_gno

on January 30, 2017
I am reading the Nebula Award winning novels in chronological order. This is the winner for 2006.

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.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
VINE VOICEon July 21, 2017
If you are looking for a book with deep, richly-nuanced characters… this is not the book for you. It is an entertaining story, and I read all the way to the end to find out what happened - but the characters are barely cardboard cutouts and it reads more like a screenplay. Also, I could never put my finger on what it was about the way the sentences are constructed, but it kept jarring me out of “thoughtless” smooth reading.

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.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on April 18, 2015
This was the first of Haleman's stories that I have tried - and I listened to it instead of reading it. The sex and violence it it were integral to the story - for instance, when the changeling first turned into a person, how is it to know what's inside one without opening it. Able to replicate the outward appearance of anything, the thing can exactly duplicate all human functions, but it has to understand the anatomy. The story held my interest for almost the length of the book, but it took a surreal turn toward the end, which I am still not sure that I like, so only four stars this time, but I will try at least one more Haldeman book.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on October 26, 2009
Stop me if you've heard this before: A strange alien artifact is found at the bottom of the ocean and ... What's that? You say you have read that same plotline? Yeah, but not like Haldeman tells it.

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.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
VINE VOICEon August 26, 2010
"Camouflage", a short, self-contained SF novel by Joe Haldeman, is a perfect example of why he is held in such high esteem by SF critics and fans alike. It's great! 4.5 stars.

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.

J.M. Tepper
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
VINE VOICEon December 4, 2006
Camouflage is a tight little romp by Joe Haldeman centering around two succinctly different but intertwined plots. The first and far inferior plot revolves around the unearthing and subsequent tinkering with a large inanimate alien artifact that doesn't seem to do much. The artifact is in a makeshift lab in Samoa where numerous scientists are trying various experiments with little to no results or reaction by the said object. Unfortunately, despite the scientific thinking behind the different experiments, this subplot is tepid at best. The other and slightly more prevalent story line focuses on two separate immortal shape-shifting aliens who are roaming Earth. One is a sadistic war mongering killer always looking for the next challenge. The other (and more interesting) is a fish out of water (literally) trying to understand human behavior while searching for its origin and purpose.

Haldeman's focuses on the more tranquil of his creations and its growth and participation in events of the 20th century is fascinating. It's subjective view of the human condition and how it learns to interact with humanity is both terrifying and tender at the same time. It's ability to change into any form or person within certain time constraints is well utilized by Haldeman and provides for many smart and tense moments.

I don't think I've ever thought this about a novel, but I actually believe this book would have been better as a more sweeping, detail filled epic sci-fi novel. 600 hundred page books are not really Haldeman's fast pace "airplane" book style, but it might of really turned this otherwise well executed novel into "one for the ages". This book was nominated for the 2005 Nebula Award but lost out to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel and rightly so as that book was the epic and immersing novel this could have been.

Bottom Line: Another great quick read by Haldeman who continues to produce excellent page-turners.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on April 24, 2010
Camouflage was tight and fun to read. Haldeman's high concept approach and the book's corresponding structure are very strong. (Thank you for not writing another 500 page space opera, just because!) Those strengths kept me reading despite some rather obvious weak plot points and a couple of flat characters.

It's worth noting that the weak plot points didn't bother me until I was well done with the book.

What bothered me more was how little attention Haldeman put into making the Chameleon richer. There was a little too much of the Generic Alien Baddie with only a cursory attempt at motivation. If he'd done half as well with Chameleon as he did with Changeling, it would have been a much stronger and more memorable book.

I loved Haldeman's diction and crisp witty style. The prose was sleek, and even with my quarrels it kept me reading in a pretty obsessive way until it was finished.

Haldeman has been a bit of a blank spot for me-- one of those authors I've been meaning to read, but never quite got around to doing it. Based on this, I'm a lot more enthusiastic to give more of his work a try.

I will admit to being puzzled as to why this won a Tiptree. I don't think he's doing anything that interesting with gender. Different strokes, I guess.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
VINE VOICEon March 19, 2006
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. 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.
0Comment| 56 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on July 22, 2005
The first thing that really caught my attention was the writing style. The beginning of every book is like that first drink. You are getting in perspective about the time, place, and characters who will participate in the story. This part of most books is usually tedious, but necessary. However, in this book the author writing style shields you away from any possible tediousness. It hooks up your interest right after the second page and bombards you with details at a tremendous speed. You just can't stop reading. At the same time the author manages to structure his book with the perfect balance between grammatical complexity and grammatical simplicity. Essentially, he does not make it more grammatically complex than necessary. This results in a book that flows smoothly, letting your mind to fly through the story in a totally effortless fashion. Some writers out there bear the misconception that an extremely complex and elaborated grammatical structure will make their books more sophisticated and worthy. How wrong they are.

The book indirectly touches philosophical issues and amazing possible paths for evolution in other planets. In my opinion the most impressive element in this book is that it let you look at the whole human phenomena from a whole different perspective, from the other side of alien eyes. This book develops an impressive idea and presents it to you in one of the smoothest and most comprehensive narratives I have ever come across.

Starting right now with "The engines of God". This is one of the tedious ones, but it still can turn out great.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
VINE VOICEon March 30, 2007
As a writer myself, I am familiar with the problem of writing a beloved story only to realize suddenly that you need an ending in order to meet a deadline. The rushed endings that come out of such a process are rarely satisfying, and CAMOUFLAGE is no different.

The story is about two alien immortal shapeshifters stuck on early for a large chunk of human history. One spends all its time as a player in history, while the other dips in and out of history merely to learn how to be human. Now, the human race has discovered a mysterious object at the bottom of the sea and is racing to find its secrets, which are tied up with one of the two aliens.

The prose is well-written and deeply involving. I found myself unable to put the book down. The characters are strong, and the plot is fun - despite jumps back and forth thru time which some readers might find difficult to follow in spots. But then comes the ending where two titanic forces come together and... it is all resolved in about the space of 10 pages without any satisfying confrontation.

Read this book if you love the process of story and character. Avoid it if the ending is all that matters to you.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse