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Camouflage

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  5,465 ratings  ·  319 reviews
Two aliens have wandered Earth for centuries. The Changeling has survived by adapting the forms of many different organisms. The Chameleon destroys anything or anyone that threatens it.

Now, a sunken relic that holds the key to their origins calls to them to take them home—but the Chameleon has decided there's only room for one.
Mass Market Paperback, 1st edition, 289 pages
Published August 2005 by Ace (first published August 2004)
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3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,465 ratings  ·  319 reviews


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Stuart
May 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Camouflage: Species meets The Abyss - not in a good way
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
How did Joe Haldeman’s Camouflage beat Susanna Clarke’s monumental work Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell for the Nebula Award in 2005? Granted, I haven’t read that book, but I have read many glowing reviews from my fellow FanLit reviewers and Goodreads friends. It was also made into a major BBC miniseries and received many accolades. Clarke’s book is incredibly long and filled with dense footnotes that
...more
Robert
Apr 26, 2012 rated it liked it
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
...more
Dawn C
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loved, media-audible
This was completely brilliant, engaging and thrilling! I love stories with a narrow, character-based focus, and following two non-human life forms as they stumble across time and land, learning all that is good and bad about humanity, was highly fascinating. The two beings clowly narrow in on each other, without their knowledge, being drawn to the same old artifact found in the ocean, each with their own perspective and focus. I hope Haldeman’s other works are as captivating as this was.
Scott
Nov 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
As always, Haldeman delivers a pacy, interesting and thoughtful story. Two immortal, shapeshifting beings journey through time in very different ways, experiencing human life and searching for others like them. I've always liked Haldeman's characters and his deft portrayals of war so I found this an enjoyable, if fairly brief read. The story is let down a little however by the sudden (and in my opinion, rushed) ending, and a rather rapid and unconvincing romance that is a key part of the narrati ...more
Ushan
Jan 06, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Lionel
Dec 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Greg Strandberg
Apr 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Cameron
May 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Don
Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Thom
Oct 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
ΞιsNιnΞ RΞχ~ΚαrnιFΞχ
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
...more
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
...more
Miriam
Jan 19, 2009 rated it liked it
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
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
...more
Fred Hughes
Dec 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Harvey
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dennis
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Mediocre Haldeman. There have been better novels about aliens on earth. Try Needle by Hal Clement.
Colin
Apr 08, 2009 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
...more
Graham Crawford
Sep 14, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
boocia
Jun 10, 2018 added it
Shelves: 2018, nebula-single
tbh this book was a bit of a trainwreck

(cw sexual assault)

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all the characters were actively unlikeable. the antagonist has no motivations for being evil, other than just ... being an evil alien? the protagonist is a lazily written womanizing scientist? the other protagonist is also an alien, who like, clichedly "learns to be human" and non-violent ... the mystical maguffin the scientist is researching is very non-mechanically and unsatisfactorily solved -- the alien very suddenly in the l
...more
Clark Hallman
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Camouflage is another excellent, interesting, and exciting novel by Joe Haldeman. 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 w ...more
Andrea Blythe
Apr 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fic-scifi
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
...more
Brian
Jun 18, 2010 rated it liked it
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
...more
Michael Valentine
Feb 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Daoist56
Dec 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
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
...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
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it liked it
In the near future, a mysterious alien artifact (reminiscent of that in "2001") is discovered on the ocean floor. Hoping for material gain, a secret team is assembled to 'salvage' it and investigate it. But the egg-shaped item is impervious to all attempts to mess with it.
Meanwhile, two alien beings are on Earth - and have been for untold time, changing their shape, way of being - and largely unaware of who and what they are. What is their connection to the artifact? And why are drawn to each ot
...more
Josh
Mar 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, aliens
Haldeman covers some interesting concepts here, but the writing is poor. The characters are flat and absurd, the dialogue is ridiculous, and the story is unfocused. But it's the unnecessarily graphic sex scenes that made the whole thing laugh-worthy. Much of the book read like a piece of science fiction erotica. The only reason I didn't give this one star is because I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the Changeling's experiences in World War II. If only the novel contained more of this and less ...more
Jason
Aug 15, 2007 rated it did not like it
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.
Anindita,  A Bohemian Mind at Work
Great details, fascinating concept. I love fictions based on biology (understand it better than the other fields), and this was one of the best. More than the writing style, it's the characters 'chameleon' and the 'changeling.'
One of the best concepts I have ever read.
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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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