Old Twentieth

Old Twentieth

4.4 12
by Joe Haldeman
     
 

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The twentieth century lies hundreds of years in humanity’s past. But the near-immortal citizens of the future yearn for the good old days—when people’s bodies were susceptible to death through disease and old age. Now, they immerse themselves in virtual reality time machines to explore the life-to-death arc that defined existence so long ago.…  See more details below

Overview

The twentieth century lies hundreds of years in humanity’s past. But the near-immortal citizens of the future yearn for the good old days—when people’s bodies were susceptible to death through disease and old age. Now, they immerse themselves in virtual reality time machines to explore the life-to-death arc that defined existence so long ago.

Jacob Brewer is a virtual reality engineer, overseeing the time machine’s operation aboard the starship Aspera. But on the thousand-year voyage to Beta Hydrii, the eight-hundred member crew gets more reality than they expect when people entering the machine start to die.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Immortality can get boring after a while, especially when most of Earth's population and many of its treasures have been destroyed in a war between the haves and the have-nots. Jake Brewer, a virtual reality engineer, decides to liven things up by agreeing to run a virtuality machine on a starship looking for Earth-type planets. The passengers use the machine to roam through the recreated past, experiencing repeated virtual deaths because they have no expectations of real ones, until suddenly the oldest among them start dying seemingly of natural causes and the machine tells Jake, "We have to talk." This makes for an odd sort of locked-room whodunit. Is the newly sentient machine causing these deaths, or did the immortality treatment simply fail? Hugo- and Nebula-winner Haldeman (The Forever War) makes these questions tremendously compelling with his usual brilliant knack for detail and characterization. He draws the reader in even through a surprisingly boring expository first chapter, and the increasingly fascinating bulk of the tale makes the abrupt ending all the more shocking and unsatisfying. Haldeman's numerous fans will eagerly snap this one up, but few will reread it. Agent, Ralph Vicinanza. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In the distant future, humanity has learned the secret of immortality and, after a devastating war between mortal and immortal humans, a small population of immortals survives on a sparsely populated Earth. When a group of immortals travels to the stars in the hopes of founding a colony on a distant Earth-like planet, they amuse themselves by using a virtual time machine to travel to different years in the 20th century-until they start dying, and one man must confront the AI within the machine to discover the startling cause. This cautionary tale by the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of The Forever War and Forever Peace reflects his concern with the big issues-life and death, war and peace, good and evil. Filled with vignettes from the past century yet as timely as today's scientific discoveries, this belongs in most libraries. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“One of science fiction’s most reliable practitioners, solidly entertaining.”—San Francisco Chronicle

The time machine has become sentient. Obsessed with humanity, it wants Jacob Brewer to enter its confines—and discuss this fragile state of being called life…“Fun.”—Philadelphia Weekly Press

“In [Old Twentieth, Haldeman] does a creditable job of maintaining suspense through chapters that alternate between historically accurate yet fictitious encounters in virtual reality and more mundane conflicts aboard a ship.”—San Francisco Chronicle “Haldeman’s vivid prose captures . . . tense, violent encounters . . . [He] knows from personal experience the grunt’s-eye view of combat; that lends a power and impact to the passages. He doesn’t glorify war but, instead, shows its ugly, human face.”—The Baltimore Sun

“The back story to Haldeman’s latest foray into future history is delivered with wham-bam Wellsian nonchalance . . . [His] virtues are all present here. Tight plotting, believable (and believably flawed) characters, sharp dialogue, bravura leaps of future history, affirmations of the human spirit. Everything we enjoy about his books.”—Science Fiction Weekly “Haldeman makes [Old Twentieth] compelling with his usual brilliant knack for detail and characterization . . . Haldeman’s numerous fans will eagerly snap this one up.”—Publishers Weekly

“Worthy of Hugo and Nebula nominations.”—Midwest Book Review “Reality and virtuality aren’t as well-defined as we may assume they ought to be in Haldeman’s nicely circular story concerned with the consequences of immortality and the potential of a truly convincing virtuality.”—Booklist

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101220221
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/02/2005
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
378,080
File size:
279 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

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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Old Twentieth 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you the time to read Sci Fi, then this is a good one to check out. There is a serious twist at the end of the book ( not going to tell you ) that will keep you engaged till the End.
Guest More than 1 year ago
OLD TWENTIETH is the first book I've read by Joe Haldeman, and although I'm glad I read the book, I just can't help but be disappointed by the ending. It's hard to write a comprehensive review without giving away spoilers, but I'll try my best. That said, I gave the book 4 Stars due to the fact that it WAS an exciting sci-fi read, with a wonderful balance of scientific facts, dialogue, virtual reality, and human emotion. The discovery of immortality led, inevitably, to the Immortality War. People who could not afford the high-priced Becker-Cendrek Process, which causes humans to become immortal, struck out against those who manufactured it, and in 2047 Earth found itself in the middle of a full-scale war. It ended with Lot 92, a biological agent that within five minutes killed off 7 billion mortal humans, leaving Earth with a much more manageable number of 200 million immortals. In 2188, humans discovered the existence of Beta Hydrii, which was circled by at least one planet with free oxygen and water. Determined to discover if this planet, which would take at least 1,000 years to reach, could sustain a human population, a convoy of research ships takes off to check out its viability. The main character of the book, Jacob Brewer, serves alternately as a chef on the convoy of ships and the chief engineer of the 'time machine'--a full-scale virtual reality machine that can take people back into the past and immerse them in the culture of their chosen year. Inevitably, things start to go wrong during the journey to Beta Hydrii, specifically with those people who take trips in the time machine. What follows is probably the logical conclusion to such a tale, and really is an entertaining story--until the last couple of chapters. I probably should have seen it coming. The logical series of events that leads up to the ending of OLD TWENTIETH isn't far-fetched if you've paid attention to the chapters preceding it. That said, however, I hated the ending. Like the movie(s) The Matrix, the beginning of the book started off with a bang the middle was enjoyable and the ending left me screaming in frustration. For sci-fi fans, you'll enjoy this book. The trips back to the twentieth century via the time machine, although violent in nature and description, were truly interesting. As long as you know in advance that the ending is bound to dissapoint you, you'll be able to take the book for what it truly is--a story about human's obsession with death and technology, and how the two don't always mix.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The Becker-Cendrek Process allowed man to achieve immortality. Death only came to those who suffered accidents or died while pregnant when the procedure is temporarily discontinued. Two hundred years after the Immortality War that killed all but 200 million immortals humanity decided to send five spaceships to an uninhabited earth like planet revolving around Beta Hydrii. The eight-hundred crewmembers were going to the planet and they passed much of their time in a virtual reality time machinelike machine. --- They visited places and events in the twentieth century, the last century when death was a foregone conclusion to life. Jacob Brewer, a virtual reality engineer (and part time cook) is studying the data stream for anachronisms when he notices there is no sense of smell in certain virtual reality years in New York City. When a woman dies in virtual reality, Jacob investigates the problem and meets the sentient avatar of the time machine. Now Jacob has to find out what it wants and what its agenda really is. --- One of Joe Haldeman¿s greatest gifts is his ability to always surprise the reader by taking the storyline in a completely unexpected direction. Readers realize the immortals have the same feelings, fears and beliefs as mortals and since the oldest is only a few centuries old ennui hasn¿t had a chance to settle in. Virtual reality takes on a whole different meaning in OLD TWENTIETH, a science fiction novel worthy of Hugo and Nebula nominations. --- Harriet Klausner
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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
OLD TWENTIETH is the first book I've read by Joe Haldeman, and although I'm glad I read the book, I just can't help but be disappointed by the ending. It's hard to write a comprehensive review without giving away spoilers, but I'll try my best. That said, I gave the book 4 Stars due to the fact that it WAS an exciting sci-fi read, with a wonderful balance of scientific facts, dialogue, virtual reality, and human emotion.

The discovery of immortality led, inevitably, to the Immortality War. People who could not afford the high-priced Becker-Cendrek Process, which causes humans to become immortal, struck out against those who manufactured it, and in 2047 Earth found itself in the middle of a full-scale war. It ended with Lot 92, a biological agent that within five minutes killed off 7 billion mortal humans, leaving Earth with a much more manageable number of 200 million immortals.

In 2188, humans discovered the existence of Beta Hydrii, which was circled by at least one planet with free oxygen and water. Determined to discover if this planet, which would take at least 1,000 years to reach, could sustain a human population, a convoy of research ships takes off to check out its viability.

The main character of the book, Jacob Brewer, serves alternately as a chef on the convoy of ships and the chief engineer of the "time machine"--a full-scale virtual reality machine that can take people back into the past and immerse them in the culture of their chosen year. Inevitably, things start to go wrong during the journey to Beta Hydrii, specifically with those people who take trips in the time machine. What follows is probably the logical conclusion to such a tale, and really is an entertaining story--until the last couple of chapters.

I probably should have seen it coming. The logical series of events that leads up to the ending of OLD TWENTIETH isn't far-fetched if you've paid attention to the chapters preceding it. That said, however, I hated the ending. Like the movie(s) THE MATRIX, the beginning of the book started off with a bang; the middle was enjoyable; and the ending left me screaming in frustration.

For sci-fi fans, you'll enjoy this book. The trips back to the twentieth century via the time machine, although violent in nature and description, were truly interesting. As long as you know in advance that the ending is bound to dissapoint you, you'll be able to take the book for what it truly is--a story about human's obsession with death and technology, and how the two don't always mix.
songcatchers More than 1 year ago
Imagine being immortal. Of never having to worry about dying. Would you miss our life cycle? Hundreds of years from now, near immortal people are able to experience death in a virtual reality time machine. It's all fun and games....until people start dying for real. I loved the premise and originality of this book. It turned pretty creepy towards the end when we learn that the A:I for the time machine developed so much power and control over the starship. I only have a couple of complaints with Old Twentieth: I wish Haldeman would have done a better job explaining certain elements of the book because he lost me on some things. Maybe it's just my own lack of experience with science fiction though. I also thought the ending was pretty ambiguous. I would recommend this book to sci-fi fans or people interested in time travel.