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Work Done for Hire

2.93  ·  Rating Details ·  379 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
The Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of The Forever War delivers "a riveting near-future science fiction story of the dangers of living in a surveillance state" (The Tech).

Wounded in combat and honorably discharged nine years ago, Jack Daley still suffers nightmares from when he served his country as a sniper, racking up sixteen confirmed kills. Now a struggling author
Hardcover, 278 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Ace
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This is a near-future novel & a disappointment. I read The Forever War when it first came out & Haldeman is - at least in my mind - a futuristic writer, but almost all the technology was today's. Actually, some was rather clunky by today's standards & some important abilities that should have been commonplace (Tor & other anonymous proxies!) were left out.

The book was well written - typical smooth, Haldeman prose. The book within the book was kind of fun, but really didn't add an
Ben Babcock
Jumped on this after seeing it in the new paperbacks section of the library. Having recently read, and greatly enjoyed, The Forever War, I was happy to see something much more recent from Joe Haldeman. That being said, the description made it seem more like a thriller than a science-fiction novel, so I didn’t go into it expecting too much. This proved fortuitous, because there isn’t much here. Thrillers are neither my area of interest nor expertise, so I can’t be certain, but I don’t think this ...more
Jan 12, 2014 Andrew rated it liked it
What was that?!

Have you ever listened to modern jazz and -- while knowing that it's very difficult and played brilliantly by outstanding musicians -- you can't get past that it's splitting your ears and you just don't get it?

This book is modern jazz. I get the feeling that it's probably operating at a level that's beyond me. I think it's really well written (great musician) -- the prose is really well crafted (played brilliantly) -- but parts of it really split my ears, ((view spoiler)
Jan 22, 2014 Robert rated it it was ok
Shelves: thriller
A bit disappointing would sum this one up. Had some potential but could not pull it off would also fit. A writer and former military sniper is blackmailed into an assassination of an unknown target. However things take a bit of a different turn from that point forward. The book seems like one of those old cars where you keep hitting the starter waiting for it to turn over. However you only succeed in running down the battery. The ending seemed cobbled together and rushed to fit in the last few ...more
Jan 12, 2014 SocProf rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is a disappointment for this long-time Haldeman fan. The dual storylines never really combine in a satisfactory fashion. The main storyline has a thriller touch to it, but the ending is all deus ex machina. If you have to explain everything on the last page of the novel, you failed. And even when the explanation comes, it's a bit of a dud.
Dana Stabenow
Mar 08, 2015 Dana Stabenow rated it it was ok
A book that will definitely creep you out, and not just because of the 400-pound cannibal who lives down the lane.
Nov 28, 2015 Scott rated it did not like it
I would strongly recommend that you do NOT read this book. The story is weak. And the story within the story is so unbelievable that it is not worth reading.
Marc Aplin
Feb 05, 2014 Marc Aplin rated it liked it
The following review was originally posted on

For those who are unfamiliar with Joe Haldeman, let me start by telling you that the man is one of the most critically acclaimed authors in the genre of Science-Fiction. His novels such as The Forever War, The Accidental Time Machine, and the Marsbound trilogy are often cited as some of Science-Fiction’s most important and influential. As well as collection an impressive number of awards for these titles – including Hugo, Nebu
Neil McCrea
Work Done for Hire was disappointing all around. It still gets two stars for being competently written by a true talent and for having the potential for something greater.

When I received this book from the first reads program I was surprised to discover that it was not the sci-fi novel I was expecting, but rather a sci-fi tinged military/spy thriller. I have a great fondness for established authors of a particular genre who branch into other genres, so I did not consider this to be a drawback.

This was a Goodreads giveaway.

Joe Haldeman, a multi-published science fiction writer, makes a foray into the mystery/thriller field in Work Done For Hire.

Since this is an uncorrected proof, I’ll give it a pass on any grammar, punctuation, and word errors a copy or line editor should have caught before the printing presses fired up.

Page 34: So far, I’m not impressed. The way the main character, Jack Daley, describes his relationship with his girlfriend Kit Majors makes it sound more like a cheap
Jun 21, 2016 Chris rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads, arc
***Received in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway***

hmmm...well, it is a bit different. As best as I can describe what is going on, there are two stories involved and they are roughly parallel in most aspects. But the thing is, neither story is really told all that well and/or fleshed out like a proper story...

So...we have a writer, former sniper in a desert war, who is far from financial success. He has a book or two published but they got mixed reviews. His agent approaches with a novelization o
Feb 26, 2015 Ewan rated it did not like it
I picked this one up because it was on the Locus reading list for 2014. I'm a fan of Haldeman mainly from having read The Forever War as a teenager. I enjoyed, it was great, everything was awesome. This book is in no way comparable to that book. In a bad way.

I tried to jump back into haldeman with The Accidental Time Machine but was left wanting more (like a plot, character development or anything more than the set of disparate vignettes the novel laughably called a storyline). I thought maybe t
Jan 08, 2014 Chris rated it it was ok
I got an uncorrected proof of this book from a Goodreads giveaway. It was the first thing I read by Joe Haldeman.

Apparently the novel takes place in the future. I know this not because it is ever mentioned, or is even remotely relevant to the plot. I know it because Haldeman mentions several small bits of futuristic technology throughout the novel. These objects don't further the plot in any way, in fact they don't even change it in any significant way. It's like Haldeman wrote a thriller, a com
Jan 20, 2014 MD rated it really liked it
I was expecting this to be science fiction because everything else I have read by Joe Haldeman is science fiction, but this one is not. I mean, there is a story-within-the-story which features an alien but that's about it. This one is more of a suspense story or a thriller.

So how effective was it? About a third of the way through or so I had to stop reading it before I went to sleep for fear it would give me nightmares. I hadn't had to do that for a while.

Like some of Haldeman's other character
Matt Carl
Dec 10, 2015 Matt Carl rated it liked it
Haldeman has been a favorite author of mine since high school, and is #4 on my "most read" authors list behind Robert Heinlein, Stephen King and (yes, I know) Orson Scott Card. This feels like it should have been a good book, but for some reason I had trouble connecting with it. The ending was abrupt, and somewhat predictable, but that's not really a drawback to a book like this. There are some interesting questions about how ex-soldiers deal with their experiences, and possibly bringing ...more
Wes Metz
Mar 08, 2014 Wes Metz rated it it was ok
This book barely qualifies as science fiction; Haldeman throws in a few bits of near-future technology, but the story could have been as easily set in the present. It's a mystery/thriller, with an embedded SF novella alien monster story that the protagonist is writing under contract (hence the title). (Be warned - the embedded story has scenes that are not for the squeamish; I wish they hadn't been so graphic, as I think it added nothing to the tale.) I found the most interesting element of the ...more
Sep 18, 2014 Robert rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
This was my first exposure to Haldeman, although I'm well aware of his reputation and stature in the science fiction field. Granted, Work Done for Hire is not a masterpiece. However, I did enjoy it thoroughly; it was a fun, speedy read, with solid characterizations and some good anti-war commentary. It seems to me that this book has a lot of negative reviews. Like I said, this is no classic. But I feel that many readers disliked it because it didn't fit the mold of a typical Haldeman novel, with ...more
Joshua Zucker
Jun 15, 2014 Joshua Zucker rated it liked it
Not much of an SF book -- none of the plot or themes really depend on being in the future, they are like tacked-on bits of near-future technology speculation.

A fun read, definitely -- lots of suspense and some fast-paced action. But we never really get an ending to the story-within-a-story, and the main story ends with a very mundane and not really believable explanation, so when I was getting to the last page I was definitely feeling like there wasn't enough time to have an ending for the story
Work Done for Hire by Joe Haldeman is a free Goodreads First Reads advance reader copy of a paperback book I began reading the latter part of January 2013. I was attracted to the idea of reading this book, due to it being about a war veteran writing a book that's spurned into battle on civilian territory.

Jack Daley is an ex-sniper and a consummate, witty Guy Friday one page and a retreatist, no-one-gets-me grumpygills the next. All he wants to do is write a book that may or may not be optioned a
May 05, 2014 Jjudyfl rated it liked it
I won this book from Goodreads.
Learning how to sabotage a gun wasn't what I expected from this read. No recipes for chocolate chip cookies in this one - no sirree-
So who has delivered a rifle to this US military trained ex-sniper and why NOW?
Jack Daley and his girlfriend 'Kit' are on the run from a good or a bad guy - the reader doesn't know - & neither do they.
Jack just wants to be a writer, and every few chapters we read another advancement of his 'book.' - one of the most gross, horrifyi
Scott Haraburda
Jul 01, 2014 Scott Haraburda rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Goodreads First Reads Giveaway Book.


Work Done for Hire is a psychological thriller about a former military sniper who later became an author and who was drawn into a bizarre game of survival. In essence, it’s a book-within-the-book that involves a serial killer who just may be man posing as an alien, bordering on a science-fiction genre.

The author wrote in an absorbing first-person narrative. It was well-written, perhaps tapping into his experience of serving
Oct 18, 2015 Mike rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
First a warning, I have read over 10 books by Joe Haldeman all science fiction, this is not science fiction in my opinion.

The story follows a retired sniper turned writer who takes a job writing a story based on a movie idea. The story he writes might or might not be science fiction and is included in the book. He is then offered money, threatened and finally blackmailed into taking up the role of hired killer. He and his girl friend go on the run to try and escape his would be employers.

The plo
Jul 14, 2014 Chris rated it liked it
Shelves: library
Pretty good, but the ending is awfully abrupt. I suspected Kit (she seems too good for the violent & broke protagonist).

Haldeman is an ex-soldier writer who lives (sometimes) in Florida.

The protagonist/narrator of Work Done for Hire is a broke and thoroughly disillusioned ex-soldier trying to get his writing career off the ground. He bikes a lot and spends much of the book carrying small pistols he doesn't expect much of.

He, in turn, is writing an SF/horror story about a broke lawyer/detecti
Apr 14, 2015 Craig rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read several reviews criticizing this for not being a good science fiction novel, which is rather unfair... I can't see any way you can call it a true science fiction novel at all. It's like taking poor Dorothy to task for practicing witchcraft, right? It's a pretty good suspense/thriller, supposedly set in the near future though it could just as easily have been set a decade in the past. There are two alternating stories for much of the book, one being the story the protagonist of the ...more
Jan 20, 2014 Randi rated it it was ok
I received this book through Goodreads giveaways and was excited, as I always am, to receive it. However, I was confused when I started reading it as I thought it was a futuristic thriller. I couldn't find any hints of it being set in the future and as I kept reading, my desire to learn more lessened.
I really wanted to finish this book but I couldn't. At first I thought the switching from the book's protagonist to his book and the villain would make for an interesting style, but it felt like it
Feb 07, 2014 Andreas rated it did not like it
A veteran and struggling writer receives a dream contract for a movie novelization. Soon after, a sniper rifle is delivered to his doorstep and he is blackmailed into accepting a contract to murder a still unnamed victim. He goes on the run with his girlfriend.

I was sorely disappointed by this book. While it is competently written, the story is just a bland chase. The ending is anticlimactic and the “twist”, well, isn’t. The interleaved chapters with the novel the protagonist is writing are vagu
Shannon Kelleher
Apr 23, 2014 Shannon Kelleher rated it it was ok
I'll be honest, I didn't read the whole thing. I read half-way through, then went forward (on the advice of a friend) and read the final 5 pages. Haldeman is one of my favorite authors, but this book is shite! It's poorly written, poorly conceived, poorly executed, and poorly thought out. If I didn't know better, I'd think Joe either phoned this one in using a bunch of random ideas he had laying around, or someone else took an idea of his and destroyed it. This was one of the first times I've ...more
Ray Daley
Jun 08, 2014 Ray Daley rated it it was ok
A book about writing a book and that book.

So it's metafiction.

And frankly it's bloody terrible.

It reads like Joe was writing this on the fly with no prior planning as the plot (what little of it there actually IS) goes all over the place.

Quite a lot of the time I felt like Joe was literally making it up as he went along with ZERO clue where he was going next.

If I, as a writer & reader, can pick this up, then I feel many other readers will see it too. And think less of Joe for it. I know I di
Patricia Baker
Jan 27, 2014 Patricia Baker rated it it was ok
Received this book from Penguin Group (Will Martin) as part of the Goodreads Giveaway...Thank you.

first time for me to read a title by Joe Haldeman. was a little confusing at first and then stayed a little weird throughout. was totally grossed out by the story written for possible Hollywood movie. that monster/man was just creepy. hated to read about him killing and eating another solo traveler.
found the other part of the story(story about the writer of the Hollywood movie) just too many words w
Nicholas Smeaton
Apr 06, 2015 Nicholas Smeaton rated it liked it
An intriguing premise. An army vet turned struggling author recieves a sniper rifle, money and a note telling him to kill a 'very bad man'. That's followed up by a phone call telling him that if he doesn't take the job his girlfriend will die. Very well written as one would expect from an author of Haldeman's caliber. In an interesting technique the main story is interwoven with excerpts from the novella the main character is working on. The final explanation for what's doing on was something I ...more
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Brother of Jack C. Haldeman II

Haldeman is the author of 20 novels and five collections. The Forever War won the Nebula, Hugo and Ditmar Awards for best science fiction novel in 1975. Other notable titles include Camouflage, The Accidental Time Machine and Marsbound as well as the short works "Graves," "Tricentennial" and "The Hemingway Hoax." Starbound is scheduled for a January release. SFWA pres
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