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Camouflage

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,291 Ratings  ·  240 Reviews
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. A

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ebook, 304 pages
Published July 1st 2005 by Ace Books (first published August 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Eisnein
Of Sharks and Chameleons

[Warning: There's some minor spoilers ahead, but I steer clear of the big revelations.]
Haldeman has always impressed me with his mature, hardboiled SF writing, usually careful to keep the conceptual wanderings well in sight of their scientific base-camp. This is a story of two ancient alien visitors, both of whom have learned to pass as human. They're very different creatures, however; the 'changeling', obviously, changes itself -- adapting physically, psychologically, an
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Robert
May 08, 2012 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
What makes you human?
SF writers have been exploring this question for a long time. One approach has been to use an android - said machine goes on a lengthy quest to emulate its "superior" human creators. Two famous examples are The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories and Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Generally, the android starts out more or less niave and incomprehending of human nature and gradually learns to emulate humans more accurately. Emotion and death seem to be characteristi
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Lionel
Dec 10, 2014 Lionel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haldeman has shown his mastery again

This tale begins with some familiar SF themes - an alien artefact on the sea bed and a shapeshifting alien intelligence, so long-lived as to be effectively immortal, that stretches the reader's "suspension of disbelief" rather further than is comfortable at first - but the story draws the reader in, and once over that initial hump the writing is sufficiently skilled and well-paced that it is not too difficult to stretch the imagination that little bit further
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Ilya
Jan 06, 2013 Ilya rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
A shape-shifting alien who can masquerade as a human but is different from humans on the cellular level (John W. Campbell's "Who Goes There?") spends several lifetimes as different humans, male and female (Virginia Woolf's Orlando?), falls in love with a human and makes him love it by shifting into a human shape (Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid"? Greek mythology?). A human-looking immortal who has been with humanity since the stone age (Clifford Simak's "Grotto of the Dancing Deer" ...more
Don
Jul 25, 2012 Don rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I just finished this book and all I can say is that I'm really glad that I happened upon it in a bookstore and bought it. This was a great find!

The basic story is this: two alien life forms have been living on the earth for thousands, if not millions, of years. Both have the ability to alter their physical shape and become other people or beings, even inanimate objects.

The interesting thing that Haldeman does with the premise is have one of the aliens develop layers of thoughts, emotions and att
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Thom
Oct 27, 2009 Thom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was great right up until the end, where it felt like the author just decided he was tired of all the intrigue and just killed the book with a contrived showdown that was the most predictable ending that could have taken place. Not that I blame him. The drama that built up in the last quarter of the book with all its identity theft and CIA agents and complex schemes and counterschemes was kind of tiresome, and I probably wouldn't have wanted all of that to continue for much longer. Also, the c ...more
Greg Strandberg
I absolutely loved this book and read it in just one day. It's a pretty quick read for a couple reasons.

First, the story just pulls you in.

Second, the writing is great.

Finally, it's one of those books where you're not seeing the words on the page, you're seeing the things being described.

I love reading Haldeman's books and I really should read this one again. The alien was great, had feelings, and changed. I can still remember some of those earlier incarnations in the '50s or so where 'she' m
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Harvey
Mar 05, 2013 Harvey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Great book. Great ideas, nicely written, compact (always good).

I had been kind of put off Haldeman by Forever Peace, which is a later book but one that I didn't warm to. But I'm working my way through the Nebula winners that I haven't already read and I'm now thinking I should read some more of his books*.

*Read The Forever War already, obviously.
Andrea Blythe
Two shape-shifting aliens of different species have been secretly been living on Earth for centuries, unaware of each other's existence. When an ancient artifact is dredged up from the depths of the ocean, the two creatures both seek it out with the aim of understanding their own origins.

The changeling (alien #1) is the main character of the story, as we see it shift from being a great white shark to a dolphin to finally a human, killing a random person as it does so to take its place. While it
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Zerthimon
Haldeman cannot write romance from either a queer or female perspective, and it helps sink the last third of this novel. Marsbound has very similar problems, and it's something I just can't get over.

There are some beautiful ideas here-like many other reviewers have said, the prologue is great, and the depiction of a very alien creature acclimatizing to human society is just fascinating.

And then it gets to the end, which is not only anticlimatic and rushed, but it has this ridiculous romance plot
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Colin
Apr 08, 2009 Colin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Read the prologue and stop right there.

The author, Haldeman, has apparently won several awards for multiple books. This book shouldn't win any awards. Readers should commend Haldeman for the ideas in the prologue. Haldeman needs to return to the drawing board to create a better story.

The rest of the book moves slowly and bores to frustration. I'm usually willing to accept a slow book if the end wows me. Camouflage certainly succeeded on slowness but failed on a worthwhile ending.

As a recommenda
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Michael Valentine
I generally like Joe Haldeman, but this book was a bit of a disappointment. I guess I should have been clued in by the cover referring to it as a "thriller," a genre best left, in my opinion, for air travel. Minor spoilers follow. Basically, there are two more or less immortal aliens living on Earth. One is (eventually) good, and one is, for no clear reason, evil, and both can shape shift. They aren't the same species, and the story focuses almost entirely on the "good" one. Focuses to the point ...more
Olethros
-Idea interesante, planteamiento discutible, resultados pobres.-

Género. Ciencia-Ficción.

Lo que nos cuenta. Dos organismos alienígenas con capacidades de camuflaje de distinta naturaleza (uno puede cambiar de forma y disfrutó mucho tiempo en compañía de otros animales e incluso en el mar; el otro puede alterar sus rasgos para parecer cualquier ser humano y a lo largo de la historia siempre ha estado implicado en conflictos bélicos como soldado desde la Edad de Piedra) viven en la Tierra sin ser c
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Graham Crawford
A good old fashioned hard science fiction. The prose is quite spare but the strength in this one is the procedural detail around the exposition of the aliens and the artefact. Some new twists to and old idea I'd thought was well and truly done to death.

On the downside, almost no character development and the sex is male wish fulfilment - but that could be said of most examples in this genre.
Daoist56
Though a compelling read, the end did not deliver.
Interesting story idea, with two changelings/ shape-shifters, one "good" and one "bad," weaving their way through human history, only to meet in the near future. The author focuses most of the book on the "good," which I found a nice choice, and it I willingly followed along as the creature became more and more human, finally learning something akin to love. But the inevitable showdown seemed scripted for the big screen, and the ending as contriv
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Brian
Jan 03, 2013 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very easy to read book, I breezed right through this one.

The premise is interesting, even if a bit hard to swallow, with two aliens among us and a mysterious artifact pulled out of the ocean.

Following the aliens through history has some really great moments of history brought to life, I wish he'd done more of it.

In fact, since both aliens are immortal I thought the whole time line was pretty rushed. Even though they keep telling themselves they have all the time in the world, most of the actio
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aPriL does feral sometimes
Assume that your beloved mum hands you a cupcake with sprinkles. She's beaming with pride. She says, "I won first prize with this recipe!" You eagerly bite in, then quickly turn away in shock. It's like old bread. Turning back, you smile. "It's fantastic, mom!" Except it wasn't.

Unfortunately, this novel isn't either. At least, for me it isn't.

Two aliens are on Earth - the Chameleon and the Changeling. Neither knows about the other, and neither can remember where they came from. They both are ge
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Cameron
Jun 18, 2013 Cameron rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
From my admittedly far from all encompassing experience with Joe Haldeman, he reminds me of a talented handy man struggling with his projects. He can do good work (and has done good work), but for whatever reason, be it old/broken tools, a lack of time or some other reason, he can't seem to complete a project that lives up to the expectations his previously demonstrated skill and talent lead me to have. They start out strong, but end up falling apart by the projects completion.

Camouflage tells t
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Miriam
Mar 25, 2009 Miriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This story of shape-changing aliens is narrated in two and a half separate tracks, which do not intersect until near the end. The primary track is from the point of view of "the changeling," an alien who, after spending eons as a sea creature, encounters a human swimmer in the 1930s and becomes human. Over the years he takes different identities and learns about human nature. We also get short snippets of another alien who loves to kill and hurt people and travels to different war zones and cata ...more
Nicholas Whyte
http://nhw.livejournal.com/678244.html[return][return]It bears a very strong resemblance to Octavia Butler's Wild Seed, with the story being the interweaving of two threads about immortals (in this case, probably alien) living in our world, who are drawn together by an alien artifact discovered in the Pacific Ocean in 2019. Indeed, perhaps the award of the Nebula was partly a tribute to Butler's novel. Haldeman, of course, puts his own riffs on it - basically, he brings in much more science, and ...more
Keith Vai
This is the first Haldeman book I have read and based on this one, Im not sure i will read any others.

This was not a well written book. The more I think about it, the more frustrated I get with all the mismatched details and obvious questions that go unanswered. It feels like a rough draft to me or the screenplay for a low-budget made for TV show.

There are many pointless chapters on such topics as assuming a fake identity over the decades or minor details with no relevance.
There are many questi
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Farhan
Oct 14, 2014 Farhan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 he ...more
fiacha
Aug 27, 2014 fiacha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mais um escritor que me foi recomendado. Um livro que me foi oferecido e não percebo muito bem o porquê de só agora o ter lido, mais uma pérola que a FC tem para oferecer, excelente.

Um estilo de FC que me agradou imenso, pois tem um enredo muito bem desenvolvido e intenso. Pode dizer-se que temos uma mistura de Terror com FC e onde os factos nos são descritos com muito rigor (não apresenta inconsistências como por vezes aparecem neste tipo de livros) e bastante criatividade.

E o mistério é logo
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Fred Hughes
Dec 14, 2011 Fred Hughes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Joe Haldeman books are what I call easy reads. The storys track fairly fast and there is minimal character development, but enough. Haldeman has a potty mouth sometimes which I don't find offensive but younger readers may not appreciate his vivid language.

All his books are entertaining and easily read. There is not too much complicated plot lines so again easy to read.

Recommended
Phillip Berrie
I read this book because of my own book 'The Changeling Detective', which deals with similar subject matter. I found this book to be an academically interesting read but not a great one.

The blurb says the story is about two unique shape-changing aliens possibly stuck on Earth, but it is really just about one of them. The second alien is just there to provide some sort of climax to what is in reality an alien coming-of-age story.

For me the best parts of the book were the observations of interesti
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Jason
Aug 15, 2007 Jason rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shade-tree
A book that demands suspension of disbelief & does nothing to encourage it. Laughable, misogynistic sci-fi clap-trap with an ending (hurried, ridiculous, a tail pinned to an ass) that seems to betray disgust in Haldeman for having written so abyssmal a book.
Andreas
An alien winds up on Earth and spends millions of years roaming it as a shark until one day in the 1930s it decides to take the form of a human. It spends the following decades learning about humanity and growing as a person. In an interleaved plot line, in 2019 an ancient alien artifact is found in the Pacific Ocean and a marine salvage company investigates.

The growth of the alien as a human is very well written, from tentative and often disastrous beginnings to a finding of true purpose and ev
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Jay Caselberg
May 31, 2011 Jay Caselberg rated it really liked it
A much more satisfying read that the other Haldeman I have been reading. Think Alien vs Predator but with a plot and characters and an interesting story. Quite enjoyed this.
Cipher
Jul 04, 2015 Cipher rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found Halderman's Camouflage to be engrossing but was ultimately unsatisfied with the complete story. Unfortunately, it seemed like just when the characters were finally realized and the reader began to get a sense of their personalities and motivations, the book spun off into trite, sci-fi cliches, and abruptly ended with what, to me, was an utterly anti-climactic final scene. I absolutely loved reading the story up until the last 40 pages or so, and was left wanting more, and not necessarily ...more
Kurt
Sep 24, 2009 Kurt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Most sci fi have interest plots, poor character development, and mediocre prose. Camoflage fits that pattern pretty well, except the plot is predictable.
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Mansfield Public ...: Camouflage by Mike Hettinger 1 2 Jul 17, 2013 10:57AM  
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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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