Book Review: The Coming by Joe Haldeman (Three Star)


Book Review: The Coming by Joe Haldeman

(Three Star)

“If you took all of the energy that all of the world produces in one year, and put it all into a space drive … we couldn’t make a golf ball go that fast. If it’s an invasion, we’ve had it Perdido.”

Not-too-distant-future first-contact story. First published in 2000. Focus is on the reaction and interaction of players in Gainesville, Florida. Multilanguage vocabulary.

“But in more than twenty years of analysis, we haven’t gotten any clear semantic content from the three suspect sources. This one is as plain as a slap in the face.” “And as aggressive?”
“That’s not clear. If they were attacking us, why announce that they were on their way? Why not just sneak up?” “On the other hand, if their intent is benevolent, why don’t they say more than ‘ready or not, here we come’?”

Heavy handed, as are most Haldeman stories, but better than his average. A pornographic subplot unrelated to the plot cost him a star. Haldeman apparently flunked anatomy and physiology 101. Humor lurks just beneath the surface.

“There were the usual riots in the usual countries, controlled by the usual methods, which provoked the usual responses. But even the most coolheaded and rational looked toward Christmas and the New Year, and wondered if there would be a January, after the first of the month.”

Daisy-chain point of view shifts changes characters without losing the reader. Several timeline inconsistencies. Several huge unanswered questions, at least one of which potentially undoes the whole story. (If I tell, it’s spoil things horribly.) Plot gaps diminish the fun, but fun it is.

We use administrative procedures long before we resort to supernatural weapons.” “You once told me there was no such thing as ‘supernatural.’ If something happened, it was part of Allah’s design, and therefore natural.” “Touché.”