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3.65  ·  Rating details ·  5,954 ratings  ·  361 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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Average rating 3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,954 ratings  ·  361 reviews

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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
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
Mar 30, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one is a good story of two very long-lived aliens who usually exist under the oceans, though one comes up periodically to monitor humanity's progress and changes. Meanwhile, an ancient artifact had been detected seven miles down, and the Navy becomes involved in a race to recover it. Haldeman creates very believable and convincing characters, both alien and human, and writes his story in a very clear and almost sparse fashion. It's a good science fiction concept told in the style of a suspe ...more
Dawn F
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.
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
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
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
tbh this book was a bit of a trainwreck

(cw sexual assault)


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
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
Jan 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Humanity, including the Bataan Death March, through the eyes of an immortal shape-shifting alien with superhuman abilities. Why did the author need a second alien, though?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.

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.
Dana Stabenow
Apr 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Two aliens land on earth millennia ago and evolve with the local fauna unto the present day into two wildly diverging personas. A mystery, a thriller, and a love story with a very satisfying conclusion. Fun.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Mediocre Haldeman. There have been better novels about aliens on earth. Try Needle by Hal Clement. ...more
Lou Robinson
Unlike James, I really enjoyed the choice for book club this month. Easy read, not really spacey and some interesting characters.
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
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.
May 29, 2020 rated it did not like it
This might be the worst book I've ever read. Period.

The premise sounds fascinating - an ancient alien has lived so long that he's forgotten his original identity. It can shape shift into anything and is unkillable. In the modern era, the craft which the alien used to come to Earth is discovered by humans, and the alien must figure out how to get to his craft.

I do not understand how Haldeman was able to take such an interesting idea and turn it into the most mundane, banal, pointless story I hav
Gareth Howells
Dec 27, 2021 rated it liked it
I always like exploring the chamelon/changeling concept and this one had three stories mingling for a final showdown at the end...and after quite a slow beginning, the 2nd half of the book managed to pick up the pace and bring some sense of direction in the narrative.
The two aliens in the story had a different proportion of space in the novel - one was clearly the main protagonist and the other one was barely in it. The other main character was a human called Russell, who didn't become central
Stephen Poltz
Jan 28, 2021 rated it liked it
This is my third novel by Haldeman. The first two were The Forever War and Forever Peace. I loved the former and was mixed on the later. This book is very different in tone and style. I liked it, but thought it rambled in the middle. I think it might have worked better as a novella. It’s about two aliens on Earth for millions of years that are suddenly drawn to an artifact found by the Americans in an ocean trench in the Pacific. The two didn’t know the other existed. One’s a changeling, being a ...more
Sarah S
Oct 24, 2020 rated it liked it
So much intrigue and build up throughout the book. I go to bed wheeling about the places I'd go or the identities I'd assume if I was immortal. The end is rather disappointing. The whole of the book was a lead up to the aliens meeting. It is as if the author had run out of time and had to wrap it up. The last 10 pages cost the 2 stars. ...more
Nov 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Camouflage is a thrilling, mysterious, and engaging exploration of truly alien psychology. There are numerous attempts at representation and cultural subversion, but these often feel a bit dated. Also, the sex is occasionally gratuitous. Otherwise, this is a fantastic novel well worth reading for any fan of classic science fiction.
Sep 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Different story than I would normally read. It follows alien life from a couple different povs but the overall story lacked cohesion for most of the book. Third Haldeman book I've read and all three have been good ...more
Gareth Crabtree (UK)
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
Relatively unsubstantial. Some strong ideas but not really carried through. Found the 2nd alien redundant. Lazy sexual violence
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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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“It bothered her to be sneaky with him. She loved him more than she had any other man or woman on Earth. But she had to find a way to the artifact, either through trust or stealth, and Russ was the obvious candidate for either.” 0 likes
“Call him the chameleon: an alpha male who never had sons, unless an adulterer cooperated. Unlike the changeling, he did have DNA, but it was alien; he could no more reproduce with a human than he could with a rock or a tree.” 0 likes
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