It's nice to see a science fiction novel with a truly alien alien
Aug 23, 2010
Joe Haldeman writes "hard science fiction" but fortunately, it's not "hard-to-read science fiction." In CAMOUFLAGE, his protagonist is an alien who shape shifts not with the simple special effects, wave your hands, snap your fingers kind of shape shifting like you see in movies and TV, but with more plausible matter-changing that happens more slowly and with more effort.
The changeling, as the nameless protagonist is known, is ageless, ancient, and very smart. It (Haldeman doesn't make the mistake of assigning this alien a gender) arrives on Earth millennia in the past but lives in the sea and doesn't bother with humanity until the 20th century when it assumes human form for the first time.
At first the changeling is pretty damn heartless. It has no conception of morality and no appreciation for human life, so it kills to protect its own interests. Over the decades, though, it acquires a level of empathy for the human condition and even begins to form emotional connections to specific humans.
The story moves around the world, and the settings, particularly those in the South Pacific, are well rendered. The writing is smooth, and the story flows well, providing some interesting surprises as well as plausible science in the near future. CAMOUFLAGE won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 2005, and the James Tiptree, Jr. Award in 2004. It's an engrossing story and a fun read!
I mostly enjoyed this tale of two creatures who take human forms and are able to change their appearance. One is called the Changeling who changes into different people, animals or things. The other is the Cameleon who can change into any person. The Cameleon is a predator who enjoys killing anyone who gets in his way. Both of these creatures have blended into human lives and neither can be killed. Meanwhile, an artifact has been discovered on the island of Samoa that both … more
An unidentified artifact, found seven miles below the surface of the sea, stumps the scientists examining it but calls out to the two immortal creatures who have wandered the Earth for centuries, never crossing paths until now.