Camouflage

Camouflage

by Joe Haldeman

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Camouflage 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 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!
Jellyn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A shapeshifting alien becomes human and might very well live an immortal life that way, but the ship it came in (or something like that) has been dredged up from the bottom of the ocean.Alternately told about the being, in the past, and scientists in the present (well, our future) trying to break in or communicate with this thing they've recovered.It was interesting. Even though it had a feel of big picture, what's-this-thing, lots of superficial characters moving the plot along, type of book, it actually was better than that. Even though I never did feel very attached to the characters, and had trouble believing their emotions.I'm not going to shy away from reading other books by Haldeman, especially as a couple of his have shown up on various lists I intend to read. But I don't know that I'll run right out and do it immediately either.
drudmann on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting, but not his best.
Scaryguy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There were a few 'yadda-yadda' chapters (uninteresting) and the ending could have been better with a few more pages (it seemed too abrupt), but this is a good book. This is one the books that takes me into the story rather than makes me read words.Good read!!
book-aficionado on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Take a central idea which is anything but fresh, ask Mr. Haldeman to write a book about that idea, and he comes up with a novel that won Science Fiction's prestigious Nebula Award for the year 2005. The story revolves around two aliens who have been on earth even before life crawled out of the oceans. One of them is a brutal killer, and the other has become almost human during his stay on earth, and both of them are shape-changers. They have been on earth far too long to remember who they got here, but when their spaceship is discovered at the bottom of the ocean and raised by a private American firm, both of them decide to get to it to discover their true origins.A masterful narrative full of complex ideas wrapped in deceptively simple prose which has become Haldeman's trademark, this is a very engaging book which is simultaneously an entertaining thriller as well as a thought-provoking novel which looks at human nature from a non-human perspective.
clark.hallman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Millions of years ago, the Changeling came to Earth from a group of stars 10,000 light years distant. It had the ability to change itself into any species of life and imitate not only the appearance but also the physiology of the species. It spent thousands of years as microscopic organisms in the sea where it landed and left its ship. It spent thousands of years as other sea creatures including killer sharks and whales. In 1931 it crawled out of the sea near San Quillermo California and encountered a human, who it killed and assumed his identity. It was fascinated by humans and learned quickly about them, and over the years, it lived as both men and women. It served in the Army and was good at killing, but it also earned several college degrees including several Ph.D.s. It lost track of its ship and forgot about where it was from. However, it knew it was different and sought information about its origin. Meanwhile in 2019 a salvage company discovers a strange artifact that had been buried deep beneath the ocean floor. Although not large, its mass was inexplicable. A team of scientists is assembled to study the artifact, but it proves to be impenetrable. The Chameleon was another alien (a different species) who had lived on Earth for millions of years. It could also imitate the appearance of other species but not as easily as the Changeling. The two creatures did not know of the existence of each other, but they were constantly searching for other beings like them. The Chameleon was not really interested in humans, except to exploit them and kill them. Both the Changeling and the Chameleon were drawn to the site where the unknown artifact is being examined. The Changeling in the guise of a woman scientist lands a job with the project and develops a relationship with one of the lead scientists. The inevitable confrontation between the Changeling and the Chameleon, along with the love affair between the Changeling and the scientist, creates a very exciting and satisfying ending. This well-deserved Nebula Award winner is another very interesting novel by Joe Haldeman.
Karlstar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting first contact book, but more of a pure 'what if'. What if there were a race that pre-dated humans by a lot, arrived on earth, and waited for us to appear? What if this race could violate many of the laws of physics we know, what could or would it do?
isadrone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Though entertaining, Camouflage is not up to Haldeman's usual standards. The book seems to be meant as an exploration of ethics and identity rather than believable SF, and it hinges on an unlikely and unconvincingly developed relationship. Camouflage is best during the few war scenes, unsurprising from an author who is a veteran and a master of military SF.
Staramber on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Generally I hate books that constantly switch viewpoints, even more when they don't cross paths often, but Camouflage is an exception. The narratives are separated not only by their viewpoint but also by time. They converge towards the end but there is never a sense of urgency. Every experience of the characters seems important and, for the reader, interesting. The ending wasn't a let down but wasn't exactly brilliant either. The story just seemed to jump off a cliff. I wouldn't let this be a reason not to read it though. It's just slightly less perfect then the bit that came before. Reading the book is incredibly enjoyable and I highly recommend it.
elmyra on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think I have to start this with a confession: I'm a book snob. A book being an easy read means that I will read it quickly, and may even enjoy it, but I will automatically downgrade it in my mind for not being sufficiently pretentious. A good example are Greg Bear's "Darwin's Radio" and "Darwin's Children" books - both really engaging, thought-provoking science fiction (except the bits where they degenerate into God), but written very much like techno-thrillers. So while I enjoyed reading them, it felt a bit weird.Now enter old age. Okay, I'm only 26, but the way my mind works has changed a lot recently, and I'm actually finding it very hard to get into my previously favoured pretentious books these days. They end up half-read in various corners of the house. So I've actively started looking for easy reads to at least keep my mind the habit of reading.I came across "Camouflage" in the form of an extract in the second Tiptree Award anthology, only a few chapters, enough to introduce us to the three main characters. I found the extract easy to read, but more than that, I found it engaging. I could work with those characters (I'm a sucker for character-driven stories!), I wanted to know what happened to them. So off to Amazon I went, and by the time I finished the Tiptree anthology, "Camouflage" had dropped through my letterbox.As with the above-mentioned Greg Bear books, "Camouflage" has a certain techno-thriller quality when it comes to the style of writing: short chapters, headed only with time and place, short sentences, hardly any words you wouldn't find in the average native English-speaker's vocabulary, and at one point it even degenerates into diagrams and strings of binary!And yet, I found the novel extremely engaging and thought-provoking. In the simple language which makes it more accessible to the general public than your average contemporary genre novel, it manages to address some really interesting questions around what it means to be human, as well as touch on themes of gender, sxuality and race in an almost casual but entirely effective way. The story is very character-driven, the character-development believeable and compassionate.Then ending is about 90% predictable, to the point where I started second-guessing the author and suspecting a Giant Plot Twist of Doom which never came. Still, that does not dimish the impact of the novel.The one question left in my mind is why the two creatures (the changeling and the chameleon) are so different. Why was one able to empathise with humans where the other only wanted to destroy? I would love to go home with either or both of them and explore the evolutionary and social pressures which led to their different responses to very similar situations.Overall, a great book and one I never would have read had it not picked up a Tiptree Award.
countrymouse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting plot, just disturbing enough to keep you wanting to know what happened next.
KevlarRelic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So I had some time to kill and I recognized Joe Haldeman's name on some back issues of Analog that were lying around the house. I intended to just browse the issue, but this story, which was originally serialized in Analog, got me immediately hooked.Like Forever War, this was also a quick and entertaining read. It's a very simple story, or at least it was for me, and I saw the ending coming from the beginning, which put a damper on my enjoyment. Good for a science fiction thriller. Wouldn't recommend it as anything but light reading, though.
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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