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The Hemingway Hoax

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  1,192 ratings  ·  116 reviews
The Hemingway Hoax is a Hugo- and Nebula-winning novella that weaves an intricate plot of a fake Hemingway manuscript with time travel, multiple universes, and the potential destruction of the omniverse itself.

Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley, lost a bag containing the manuscript of his first novel on a Parisian train. In 1996, John Baird, a renowned Hemingway scholar, decid
ebook, 160 pages
Published April 1st 2013 by Phoenix Picks (first published January 1st 1990)
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J.L.   Sutton
The premise of Joe Haldeman’s The Hemingway Hoax is interesting. Having a Hemingway scholar forge the manuscript which Hadley had lost at a train station in Paris. It seems straightforward, but planning how best to create said forgery quickly takes a backseat to deception, betrayal and blackmail. And then it gets weird! Really weird! Apparently, Haldeman’s (unused) subtitle for The Hemingway Hoax was ‘A Short Comic Novel of Existential Terror.’ The terror in the subtitle is real. Creating a forg ...more
Peter Tillman
I think this is Haldeman's masterwork. The novella is tighter, but the short novel is near-great, too. The long novella is the version that won all the prizes, and that's the version I recommend.

Here's the author's description, cribbed from his website circa 2003. This could be construed as spoiler-y. But not very, and it may avoid some of the puzzlement that other readers noted here. Trust me, this is a great work of art.

"What is the book about? The subtitle A 'Short Comic Novel of Exi
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark, paranoid, absurd and more than a little perplexing it really felt like Haldeman was channeling his inner Philip K Dick here. The first half of the story feels more like a crime pulp than anything else with the protagonist contemplating pulling off a literary forgery, but by the second half has clearly evolved into so much more with the introduction of multiple timelines and/or universes, supernatural beings who live outside time and space, and some strange goings-on. By the end things have ...more
Patricija - aparecium_libri
I liked the premise, but at times I was confused or bored. Didn't like Bird as a character at all, especially his ethics, nor Lena or Castle. I only liked Pansy. A little slow paced at times.
Sep 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
A bizarre and fascinating book, that features time-travel and parallel worlds without making your head explode too often.

It's all very straight forward, three people plot to create a lost Hemingway manuscript, the Eternals get involved to stop the world from being destroyed only things don't go as anyone planned.

But really it's a bit weird as one character retains their memories as they die and shifts in to a parallel world that's slightly different. You saw The Butterfly Effect right? And as th
I like this book, but I still can’t believe that I can be this confused after just 160 pages.

Joe Haldeman’s FAQ at his website says that the subtitle of the book is A Short Comic Novel of Existential Terror. That describes it about as well as anything I could come up with. Haldeman also states that: “It may be the most literary of my books, but it also has the most explicit sex and the most gruesome violence I’ve ever written. Nobody will be bored by it.” And he’s absolutely right about that on
Jan 15, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021-reads
I had a lot of fun reading this. It got more and more interesting as it went on. It also became a bit confusing near the end. I read the last thirty pages at high speed as I was dying to know how it would all turn out. I'm still thinking about the ending.

Here's what the author had to say about the book back in 1991:

"What is the book about? The subtitle A 'Short Comic Novel of Existential Terror' is accurate. In a way, it's a horror novel tinged with ghastly humor, (view spoiler)
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021, classic-sff
A heist to forge Hemingway stories turns to a time travel narration - ranging from pulp fiction to film-noir including graphic sex and violence, from easy storytelling to Hemingway style and up to stream of consciousness.
Please, find a detailed review at my blog.
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Wow, this book relentlessly explores not just Ernest Hemingway's style and how it works on different readers and different characters but also "all the ways" people can go wrong, get things wrong, or get their just deserts . . . I can somehow picture Walter Mosley handing this to Dr. Faustus who then goes to sit reading this book by the fire while all hell breaks loose outside. Readers of the The Paris Wife, Mrs. Hemingway, or the Timeless episode "The Lost Generation" and ever rolled their eyes ...more
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This reads as if Haldeman got drunk, ate a peyote brownie, then sat down to imitate Philip K. Dick. It’s as erudite as it is bonkers.
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short, crisply written story of alternate reality, time travel, and parallel worlds. It won both a Hugo and a Nebula for best novella in 1991. Four solid stars.
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Best piece I've read by Haldeman thus far. Clever, creative and fun. And a must for a Hemingway fan as well. ...more
Garlan ✌
This was a quick, fun little read. A time travel who-dun-it and a nod to Hemingway's influence on modern literature and the "male" psyche (mostly tongue-in-cheek). If you like Hemingway, and are a fan of time travel books with very little science involved, I think you'll like this one. 4 stars. ...more
Jan 30, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting premise. I'm not a fan of Hemingway. Ignoring that, I got thirty pages in and I didn't see how this was considered science fiction. Then it hit. Yeah, this is a fun science fiction novel. The book ramps up quick and you're just trying and keep up. I sort of understood the ending. It is an impressive book and just 155 pages makes it even more. Might have to try more of this author. ...more
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't really get what the point of this book was, but it was kind of fun to read.

There's no real character development (and, frankly, hardly a cast of characters at all). I do like the opening premise of trying to produce a Hemingway forgery. But it is such a shame that the author seemed to have no real interest in this idea, and instead what the reader gets is a quick novella about alternate dimensions with no substance. The best I can say about this book is that it definitely is an easy and
Mar 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1922 Hemingway’s wife Hadley lost a bag containing his unpublished work. John Baird toys with the idea of fabricating some or all of the missing fiction and making millions. It required considerable suspension of disbelief when this idea was presented as consequential enough to affect the fate of the multiverse but, according to non-linear dynamics, such causal connections are remotely possible. I find the idea of multiple universes in which plot alternatives are played out rather exhausting, ...more
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read the novella that won the Hugo/Nebula awards (rather than the novel) and it starts with a fine premise (a Hemingway scholar is enticed to 'create/find' the missing Hemingway early stories), throws in an unexpected angle, then gets crazier and crazier becoming increasingly abstract, bizarre and metaphysical. It's taut, funny, freaky, sexy and violent. It's a delight. The ending is so far from the beginning and yet ties everything up in a satisfactory way. Excellent stuff and well worth read ...more
This book? Not needed at all. Did pick up in speed eventually which made for easy reading. Lost its 3 star rating for unnecessary and random use of the n-word...multiple times. Author later goes on to call the character who used the word misogynistic (which is valid), but not racist, so clearly the author has a lack of self awareness.

Once again...I only read this because of my book club.
Haldeman pastiches two of his favourite authors - Hemingway and Heinlein - in this slim novel. Heinlein readers familiar with "All You Zombies" or "By His Bootstraps" should have no problem guessing the outcome by the midway point.

Amusing. 3.5 stars.
Zoe's Human
It started out so strong. A fascinating premise with solid world-building and good writing, but then, it fizzled into to chaos.
Apr 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Winner of the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award in 1991, this novella has been on my to-read list for a while now. I am a fan of Joe’s work, but this one I’ve kept putting back on the pile.

I’m never quite sure why, but I think the main reason is that I’ve always assumed that the story will work best with a knowledge of Ernest Hemingway, something I don’t have. (A basic working knowledge, sure, but little more.) As a result, I’ve always felt that I probably wouldn’t ‘get it’.

Well, the good news is
This is one of those stories that's probably better as a concept than a narrative. Haldeman himself frames it well in the afterword (I'm paraphrasing): "I realized that if someone could make a lot of money at a lot of risk for creating a counterfeit Hemingway story, then I could make a little money at no risk writing a story about that." And that's essentially the plot: Hemingway scholar Baird is an aging academic with a depleted trust fund, a war injury that damages his sex drive, and a younger ...more
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was the perfect plane read for me. I love Hemingway, I'm falling for Haldeman, and this book kept me engrossed! I am always intrigued by plots involving time travel and this one fit the normal bill. I'm learning that Haldeman means there will be violence (always somewhat graphic, never glorified) and some sex. His writing style keeps me wanting to turn the page and often makes me chuckle out loud. I enjoyed the description of the Hemingway collection at the JFK library outside of Bosto ...more
Bob Lopez
Fun, little book. Hemingway scholar attempts to recreate H's early style and forge one of H's lost stories. Great concept...then there's the sci-fi, multiple-dimensions of probability (many of which are explored). The story had a strong enough concept that the sci-fi element sort of interferes with it and slows it down unnecessarily. Quick read in the cold with a few cups of coffee...really hit the spot. ...more
Peter Tillman
My five-star rating applies to the award-winning novella. My recollection is that the expansion (not by that much) to short-novel length diluted the intensity a bit. The novella is the one I reread, and I should again. What a story!

Here's my review of the novella:
A bizarre, often funny, high concept novel: a Hemingway scholar and a con man set out to fake Hemingway's early "lost" stories, only to draw the wrath of a murderous, trans-dimensional time-hopping being that looks exactly like Hemingway himself. I'm sure it's the best sci-fi novel about Ernest Hemingway that I'll ever read.

This reads like a labor of love for Haldeman, and he's done his research: every page is filled with Hemingway references and history; each chapter heading is the title, or w
Vel Veeter
This book is kind of bad in a way that frustrates me and reminds me a lot of what I think is probably the worst (not exactly the worst but the worst of the best) Connie Willis story where HL Mencken’s ghost shows up to comment on the world.

We begin in a bar where an academic is approached by another man and they determine they have a mutual love for Hemingway and they concoct a scheme to pass off forgeries and scam writings as lost manuscripts of Ernest Hemingway. And ostensibly I don’t mind thi
It may be my own fault that a star is missing here. If I knew more about Hemingway's life, maybe I would find some references or anything that could make the more repetitive sex triangle parts of this interesting. However, as it stands, this is a very interesting intro followed by a boring slog, resulting in a rapid fire inner folding conclusion.

There are some interesting ideas here and if you were to stop after the first third and start writing fan fiction for this book, you would come back wit
Mar 15, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a short little bit of literary weirdness that's a must for Hemingway fans as well as for those of Haldeman. It's a nice blend of scholarship with existentialist horror and humor, and though I remember liking the the novella version better at the time I had a lot of fun with this. I wondered if perhaps Haldeman grew tired of being introduced as "the author of The Forever War" as if that were a part of his name, and set out to write something as completely different as he could to demonstr ...more
Kris Sellgren
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This is a solid and well-written science fiction tale of a Hemingway scholar who runs afoul of a murderous time agent charged with preventing future catastrophe. The world building was terrific, and especially creative in the details of how different time lines differ. Alas, the ending confused me, which brought it down star for me.
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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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