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by Joe Haldeman

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Two aliens have wandered Earth for centuries. The Changeling has survived by adapting the forms of many different organisms. The Chameleon destroys anything or anyone that threatens it.

Now, a sunken relic that holds the key to their origins calls to them to take them home—but the Chameleon has decided there's only room for one.  See more details below


Two aliens have wandered Earth for centuries. The Changeling has survived by adapting the forms of many different organisms. The Chameleon destroys anything or anyone that threatens it.

Now, a sunken relic that holds the key to their origins calls to them to take them home—but the Chameleon has decided there's only room for one.

Editorial Reviews

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

"An extremely intelligent thriller." —Washington Post
The Barnes & Noble Review
Multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winner Joe Haldeman's Camouflage -- about two immortal aliens wandering the Earth in numerous incarnations -- can best be described as a science fiction mystery with all the trimmings of a psychological thriller.

A million years before the emergence of humans, an alien spaceship splashes into the Pacific Ocean. After it comes to rest miles underwater, a creature emerges from the vessel and, after assessing its aqueous environment, drastically alters its appearance in order to survive.

After many millennia of existence in the form of various deep-sea creatures -- sharks, whales, porpoises, schools of fish -- the changeling eventually leaves the safety of the water and enters the world of man. Adopting various human personas -- graduate student, soldier, surfer, circus dwarf, prostitute -- the ever-inquisitive changeling slowly masters the intricacies of human society.

When a strange artifact is discovered seven miles below the surface of the Pacific in the early 21st century, the changeling is inexplicably drawn to it. But so is something else: another, much older, shape-shifting alien. This chameleon's motives for wanting to unlock the secrets of the artifact, however, are far different from the changeling's.

Originally published in Analog magazine as a three-part serial, this novel -- unsurprisingly saturated with a variety of existential philosophies -- is one of Haldeman's fastest and most intriguing reads. With relatively short chapters, three tightly intertwined plotlines, and nonstop action throughout, Camouflage will keep readers furiously turning pages until the very end. Paul Goat Allen

Gregory Feeley
Haldeman's adept plotting, strong pacing and sense of grim stoicism have won him wide acclaim, but for me the great virtue in his fiction lies in its style. His prose is laconic, compact, seemingly offhand but quite precise; one can pull down his earlier novels and reread individual pages years later with undiminished pleasure. Haldeman mostly abjures striking images or similes (the description of how a fish will "flex the one huge muscle of itself" to dart away from enemies is about as figurative as he gets), relying instead on the poetics of compression and indirection. Like the grammar of cinema, it is a mode that looks natural and even easy but requires exacting skill.
The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Joe Haldeman's Camouflage, a near-future SF thriller that alternates between the experiences of two different aliens who land on Earth, skillfully weaves its disparate plot threads until the cop-out, deus ex machina ending. This is a more sophisticated, if less than satisfying, handling of a similar situation in Hal Clement's Needle (1950). Agent, Ralph Vicinanza. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
When the navy discovers a mysterious artifact seven miles underwater in the depths of the Tonga-Kermadec Trench, it approaches marine biologist and former government scientist Russell Sutton for assistance. Reluctantly, Sutton agrees, unaware that a pair of immortal beings (shapechangers) has been summoned from its eternal wanderings to the presence of the artifact. With his customary economy of words, Haldeman (The Forever War) examines the differences and similarities between human and nonhuman nature as his protagonists face possible destruction. Superb storytelling and a panoramic view of history recommend this novel to most sf collections. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Near-future aliens-among-us yarn, from the author of Forever Free (1999), etc. Russell Sutton owns a small but expert marine research company. He wants no military ties, but when about-to-be-ex-US Navy Admiral Jack Halliburton approaches him with a deep-water salvage proposal, he's inclined to listen. Seven miles down, at the bottom of an oceanic trench, reposes a small, metallic, impenetrable object. Russ and Jack soon join forces and raise it. On a site in Samoa, they attempt to probe its secrets, but the superdense, superheavy object proves impervious. Meanwhile, we learn, there are two aliens roaming the Earth, neither aware of the other but alert to the possibility that there may be another. One, the changeling, spent thousands of years in the sea before coming ashore in 1931 to learn about humanity; it can assume any form ("Back in the sixties I spent a week as a motel television set"). The other alien, the chameleon, can adopt any human semblance; a conscienceless killer, determined to survive at all costs, it has secretly become the world's richest person. When Russ and Jack zap the object with an ultra-high-powered laser, causing it to levitate, news of the artifact's existence begins to leak out, attracting spooks, newshounds, the changeling and the chameleon. Finally, by hitting the artifact with soundwaves, the investigators elicit a message-but it's in an indecipherable code. Russ, suddenly and startlingly, becomes aware of the changeling's existence. But where, and who, is the chameleon?Well-constructed and intriguingly set up, but ultimately a disagreeable surprise: the story slips away, and you're left holding an empty coat.

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Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Ace Science Fiction Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.42(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.86(d)
Age Range:
18 - 17 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"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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Camouflage 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first read Camouflage by Joe Haldeman in an AP English class. It was my first-choice novel because I have always been an avid sci-fi reader. As such, this book was nothing new to me. The novel revolves around two aliens who arrived on Earth at the beginning of history and a group of human researchers who have discovered an extraterrestrial artifact that may be tied to the two aliens. The Changeling has an adaptive ability that allows it to take the shape of any creature or object it encounters and who has a passion for knowledge. The other alien is the Chameleon, who only takes the shape of humans, and is infinitely more ruthless.
The book essentially contains three parts, one to describe Changeling, another for the Chameleon and a third that revolves around the human research team. This often makes the passage of events a little difficult to follow as the human scientists are operating in the `present¿ while the two aliens¿ stories begin back at the dawn of time and the two stories are intermeshed. Often times you will have to reread the last installment in either story before continuing to the next in order to recall what led each character to the present circumstances.

The upcoming confrontation between the Changeling, the Chameleon and the humans is also painfully obvious. It is quite apparent that the three stories will soon become enter twined. Indeed, the most interesting part of the novel occurs toward the conclusion, were it is obvious that the three parties are in close proximity. As the dates of the entries in each of the separate stories become closer together, the suspense grows.
Another annoyance about the novel was that it was so stereotypical of science fiction. If you have read as many sci-fi books as I have you have probably actually read one very similar to this. Its plot and characters are very common among that genre and have little in the way of individuality. All of the humans are remarkably alike. They are all hyper-intelligent scientists with an identical dry sense of humor, a professional thirst for knowledge and are not very well written. A little individuality would be exactly the right ingredient to throw into the mix.
I actually enjoyed the overall reading. While the plot and characters may lack some originality, there is a sublime twist to the novel. As our two alien friends roam the Earth they have some very enlightening experiences. It is particularly interesting to see the world through the Changeling¿s eyes. The observations of the Changeling are refreshingly detached, allowing the reader to view human society from a distance, to see the good and the bad through an unbiased eye. It is infinitely fascinating to watch as the Changeling develops the skills and traits necessary to, in essence, become human. I marvel at the writing style Haldeman uses, and how much the diction differs from the human characters and their alien counterparts.
On the whole, Camouflage is a good read that would interest a large group of readers, not just the science fiction base, for it becomes so much more then that. It is also a philosophical novel, a love story and even contains elements of the ever-popular spy novel. It is not, from what I have gathered from reviews of other works, Haldeman¿s crowning achievement. So, if another of Haldeman¿s books becomes available to you, I recommend you read it over this one. However, if you are looking for a medium-length, entertaining read look no further then Camouflage.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reads like a screenplay.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is mind boggling! The shifting alien is described in fascinating detail. At no point was I bored or skimming pages. I absolutely couldnt put it down!
Ramon_DelaMarr More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book, in part because the aliens are so different than the humans-with-makeup that you would see in a Star Trek or Star Wars episode. We also get to see the evolution of the Changeling from a very primitive life form focused on survival to something very close to a human. I read this book because I had very much enjoyed some of Haldeman's other books, but this was so different from The Forever War and Old Twentieth that it could have been written by a different author. A very good, entertaining author, but very different from his other works.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I give this book 1 star because of my feeling at the end. There is some very interesting and entertaining reading here. Overall it was a big letdown, however. You will often here readers complain about the "Deus ex machina" in books. If you're one, steer clear of this book. It has one of the largest doses of it I've ever read. This book goes from 0 to finished in the last page and a half. That is not an exaggeration. One minute your reading, noticing how few pages you have left and wondering how he's going to wrap this story with so little left because it is in full swing. The next you're staring at the last page thinking to yourself, "Really? That's your ending?" Furthermore, this book is about a 80/20, maybe even a 90/10 split between the good alien and the bad one. Where as the protagonist has an in depth origin, including the prologue, you only hear a little about the antagonist's history. You never hear it's origin. This story almost feels like it was meant to be the beginning of a series where many more questions were going to be answered but the author lost interest. Indeed, with the ending this book had you get the impression he suddenly had more pressing matters. If you must read this, do yourself a favor. Stop reading before the last chapter and make up your own ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book
Desh More than 1 year ago
Humans interacting with alien technology beyond any comprehension, that in the middle of the fight between two entities embodying the text book definition of good and bad. Everything is spiced-up with contemporary accents: corrupt military, occult geopolitics, some Woodstock nonconformism (they drink alcohol), tropical island lifestyle, elastic morals, filthy sex and gory mayhem. Isn't that the key to success?! This is by far the most commercial instance of Joe Haldeman's work, but still a very good read if you're in for "relaxation with no complication".
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HowardRourke More than 1 year ago
This is another solid addition to Haldeman's work. It presents an interesting story that is supported by well-developed characters. Those characters are consistent with the development, which is a problem for many works in this genre. My only gripe is the ending, which is so brief and anti-climatic that it makes you wonder why you rushed to get to it in the first place. Nonetheless, if you are a fan of thinking about unique possibilities and escaping into a world where those possibilities exist, I recommend this book.
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