Paperback 288 pages (November 9, 2000)
This is something written a while back I’ve only recently got around to checking out. Haldeman won critical claim with his ground breaking Forever War, and rightly so.
The book is also a fast read, at times it flies by. This is not to say it’s a bad thing, but does seem a bit rushed at times.
Haldeman uses the same protagonist, William Mandela and his wife Mary-Gay, now living with other veterans of the Forever War on a cold winter planet, under the watchful eyes of the group-mind ‘Man’, humanity’s next evolutionary stage. They intend to escape their pseudo-prison by making a long distance space journey in cryogenic suspension, hoping that thanks to relativity, things will have improved by the time they get back. Suffice to say, things go wrong.
Concept wise, it intends to go several rungs higher up the ladder than its prequel, which is possibly where it stumbles. Maybe it’s due to the fast pace, but some of Haldeman’s concepts and expositions in the latter half of the book seem half-baked and forced. Whilst retaining much of the wry humour of the first, it lacks the edge that its predecessor’s wartime setting gave it. That said, Haldeman had done this type of thing to death with his last two books, and clearly wanted to say something new and further explore his ideas.
The characterisation is still spot on, with William and Mary-gay’s Children being a highlight of the book. It was also amusing to see ‘Man’ realise he is not the ultimate form of life he assumed. Despite not fully meeting my expectations, this is still very much worth checking out.