Rendezvous With Rama

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This is a classic book, so I expected a lot from it. I was a little disappointed to be honest. The book is slow, although interesting. There chapters are all very short as well (around four or five pages), which is a little odd. There is a lot of potential with this concept, and I feel this book could have gone a lot further.

[isbn: 0330240242]
[awards: winner hugo 1974; winner nebula 1973]

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Starbound

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This is the newly released sequel for Marsbound which I really liked, so I was excited when this arrived the other day. This book is much like the previous one stylistically, being written as a set of mostly first person diary entries. However, the people writing these entries are older now, and this feels less like a teen fiction novel. There is also more than one narrator in this book, unlike the first, with generally each chapter being narrated by one of three people. This can be a bit jarring at first, because it takes a while to realize that a new person is narrating and that’s why the point of view changed. You get used to it though. This book is also quite Heinlein like in this level of sex, which is similar to Marsbound, but not true of all of the Haldeman books I’ve read — I think it might be a relatively recent change to his style.

Overall a good book, I enjoyed it, and I can’t wait for the next one in the series (which Joe finished at the end of 2010).

[isbn: 044101979X;9780441019793]

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Buying Time

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This book isn’t Haldeman’s best work (checkout The Forever War, The Forever Peace, or Marsbound for examples of his really good stuff). I found the characters largely unsympathetic, and the plot quite slow. The book is also odd in that it was written in 1989, but is full of stuff you’d expect to see from a Heinlein novel like The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress — global conspiracies, Russian space colonies with vigilante law, that sort of thing.

Interestingly, the plot twist is much more smoothly done than many other Haldeman novels, which is nice.

[award: nominee prometheus 1990]
[isbn: 0380704390]

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Mars: A Survival Guide

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This book, written in the style of a travel guide, was an impulse purchase the other day as a brand new book. That’s rare because I don’t tend to buy new, and certainly not in Australia (everything is so expensive!). However, this book isn’t available on Amazon because its from the ABC, and looked good, so I bit the bullet. The book’s first half is interesting and very readable. After that it tends to die down into an exhaustive treatment of issues you’d need to consider if moving to Mars, and feels like a list of lists. It picks up again towards the end. I know its hard to be interesting in non-fiction reference books, but I feel this book lost its way at the midpoint and could have tried harder to be interesting. However, it was still ok overall and I might be being overly harsh as I don’t read much non-fiction.

[isbn: 9780733324895]

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Camouflage

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This is a book about two shape changing beings living through their centuries on Earth. It mostly follows on of them, but the other is important to the plot as well. Once again its an enjoyable read like many of Haldeman’s other books. Similarly to other books it also explores what it is like to be isolated from the rest of society, with most of the book being written from the perspective of one of the shape changers. I really liked this book.

[award: winner nebula 2005]
[isbn: 0441012523]

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The Accidental Time Machine

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Joe Haldeman does good work, and in general I have really liked his books. They’re easy to read, fun, and interesting. Better than that, they’re all quite different in the topics they cover, so he’s not in a rut. The only exceptions have been There Is No Darkness, which wasn’t very good and Forever Free, which I thought was lazily plotted. This book is no exception to the rule, and I really enjoyed it. One theme to Joe’s work that I am noticing is that the “sex scenes” are always anti-climatic, which is interesting to note.

I’d like to have heard more about the One Year War, but there is scope for that to be another separate book. I don’t think this book suffers from the lack of coverage, and its mostly tangentially interesting because I’d like to see how a society transforms itself in that way.

[award: nominee nebula_novel 2007]
[isbn: 978044101667;0441016162]

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The Coming

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This book wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be — some of Joe’s other work has been excellent (The Forever War, Forever Peace and Marsbound being examples). However, some of his other books are very weak, such as Forever Free and There Is No Darkness. This book is an interesting experiment in story telling style, where many different very short chapters are told by different characters. Each chapter follows on directly from the previous one. However, this style makes the story confusing to read until you can remember the names of all the characters. Worse than that though, the idea behind the story isn’t terribly strong, and the resolution is weak as well.

Overall and ok read, but not Joe’s best work and not a book I would recommend.

[isbn: 0441008763]

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Marsbound

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This book really worked for me. I’ve seen other people criticize it for being juvenile, but I don’t feel its any more juvenile than The Forever War, which is considered a classic. The style is quite conversational, as if the main protagonist is talking to you and explaining the story, but I liked that. This is a great book.

[isbn: 9780441017393; 0441017398]

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The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress

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This isn’t Heinlein’s best work. The faux Russian grammar of the narrator is pretty annoying, and the story shallow. Its an ok read as entertainment, but I think it could do with more plot and fewer long rants about the dangers of big government. I’d like to know more about the cyborgs which seem to pilot everything important as well.

[isbn: 0425016013]

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