Camouflage

( 34 )

Overview

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.

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Camouflage

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Overview

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.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
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

  • ISBN-13: 9780441012527
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/26/2005
  • Series: Ace Science Fiction Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 252,755
  • Product dimensions: 4.42 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Joe Haldeman is a Vietnam veteran whose classic novels The Forever War and Forever Peace both have the rare honor of winning the Hugo and Nebula Awards. He 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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 34 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(12)

4 Star

(15)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    The E.T. Perspective by Gage

    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. <BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/>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.<BR/>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.<BR/>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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2013

    Too short

    Reads like a screenplay.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2013

    Read in two sittings!

    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!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2006

    I want to go home!!

    Camouflage was an excellent tale about a couple of beings just trying to get home one will use any means nessecary and the other just wants to go home and not hurt anyone. Highly recommended!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2014

    I enjoyed this book, in part because the aliens are so different

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2013

    I give this book 1 star because of my feeling at the end. There

    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 &quot;Deus ex machina&quot; 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, &quot;Really? That's your ending?&quot; 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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2012

    Quick fun read

    Great book

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  • Posted January 4, 2012

    It's Alien versus Predator again, with a touch of Terminator and Highlander

    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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  • Posted January 11, 2010

    Interesting and different, but lacked a strong ending

    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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  • Posted March 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Very Interesting Story!

    I mostly enjoyed this tale of two creatures who take human forms and are able to change their appearance. One is called the Changeling who changes into different people, animals or things. The other is the Cameleon who can change into any person. The Cameleon is a predator who enjoys killing anyone who gets in his way. Both of these creatures have blended into human lives and neither can be killed.

    Meanwhile, an artifact has been discovered on the island of Samoa that both these creatures are drawn to. The object is heavier than any known material and appears to be industructable. Both creatures are drawn to the object, the Changling to learn about it since it senses that the object has something to do with its own existance. The Cameleon feels that other creatures like itself may be drawn to the object and he wants to eliminate them as possible competition.

    The story of the Changling is told in a fascinating manner through decades where he is a man then a shark then a man again, then sometimes a woman or an object.

    The story builds to a showdown between the two creatures, the object and the scientists who are studying it. My only problem with the book is that I felt the author rushed the ending as a matter of fact I had 4 pages left and was thinking there will be a sequel but there was a kind of ending that made me feel that the author could have drawn it out more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2006

    A tale of two aliens.

    What are the odds that shape changing immortal from a distant planet is living among us? Now square that and you have the foundation for Joe Haldeman¿s novel Camouflage. They dwell among us, take our form, live out one life after another, and then move on. One kills at need and the other kills by need. One may take on any form and the other any human form. Russell Sutton, operator of a small specialist marine engineering firm is about to meet them both. Hired to raise a mysteriously dense, cigar shaped artifact from the depths of the Pacific Ocean, Russell unwittingly starts the chain of events that will draw both aliens into his sphere. The artifact is big news in the world of 2020 when it is floated to the surface and dragged up onto a beach in independent Samoa. It is obviously not of human origin. Too heavy to transport elsewhere, a laboratory is built up around it and Russell and his team set out to figure out not only what it is but who it might belong to. The aliens are two steps ahead of him. The multiple plot lines are straight forward, logical, and lead inevitably to a final confrontation between the titans that does not disappoint. The writing is smooth and the story flows easily from the short alternating chapters. By the end, a picture emerges of the good alien and the bad alien. The good one is like the boy who studies ants and plucks one or two from the hill for examination and the bad one is like the boy who stomps on the hill to watch the ants run around in panic. The good one ponders this thing called love. The bad one does not want to share planet Earth. A large portion of the book reads like a how-to-create-an-identity guide for wayward aliens. Other parts could serve well as a guide to human sex for aliens (the only kind neglected by the author was lesbian sex and no reason was offered for this oversight). The science behind the aliens and the artifact is beyond the realm of physics as we humans know it and while I am always a bit disappointed by fantasy science, I still liked this story. I never really bonded with any of the characters though, and I found the romance between Russell, a middle aged science geek, and young twenty something women a bit fanciful, but then, they were aliens. All in all it is a good read and a book I can recommend without hesitation. Reviewed by Hugh Mannfield at stormbold.com

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2005

    Aliens Among Us

    Haldeman has an ability to cover an epic amount of time and space in his novels and Camouflage is no exception. What if aliens were among us but they weren't trying to invade us and they didn't want our women? What would an alien think of the history and the wars and the prejudices and the literature and the science of mankind? Camouflage covers it all in a series of vignettes that are interwoven with the story of man's discovery of the alien presence. Intelligent and fast-moving. While the ending is a bit rushed, this is still definitely worth a read. Donald J. Bingle, Author of Forced Conversion

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2004

    Wonderful read!!!!!!

    This book was really good. I wouldn't give it 5 stars just becasue of the ending but the rest of the book is marevelous. I couldn't put it down. I finished it in about 6 hours. I just stared reading and couldn't quit. I wasn't really big on the SciFi genre but I am hooked. I got 2 more of his books, I shall see how they are. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Teriffic futuristic aliens among us tale

    In 2019 Baja, California, Russell Sutton owns Poseidon Projects, a relatively small marine biological research firm. Russell targets two to three projects a year, but none involving the American military having worked in the government back at the turn of the century. Thus, his highly regarded staff (six PhDs) is stunned when Russell accepts US Navy Admiral Jack Halliburton deep-water salvage proposal. Lying on the bottom of an oceanic trench, seven miles form the surface, sits a metallic object that Jack wants raised.----- Russell succeeds in lifting the small object out of the sea. In Samoa, they investigate the find, but the object is impregnable to their probes. While the scientific team continually fails in its query, two aliens roam the planet. The Changeling lived in the sea for millenniums before arriving on land nearly a century ago and dons any identity including an inanimate; the Chameleon has become the world's richest person. He also will kill without feeling any remorse. News surfaces about the object; along with the usual whackos in and out of the media and some intrigued scientists, the Changeling and the Chameleon have personal interests as both know that this is the key to their finally going home.----- This futuristic aliens among us tale is a terrific story line that hooks the audience from the moment the object is lifted from the sea as readers will want to know what this artifact is as well as who are the Changeling and the Chameleon. Russell is a fabulous lead human protagonist, but clearly, the mystery of the two ETs and their ¿key¿ is what grips the audience in a fabulous thriller that needs a chlorine-based sequel.----- Harriet Klausner

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    Posted November 22, 2009

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