cover
ISBN: 0441008763

If you want to enjoy this novel, skip this post!

I think this novel is best enjoyed by letting the narrative unfold.

Alien message cryptically says “We are coming”.

Earth is kept wondering what the message means. From then on, the novel is told from many different perspectives of characters directly or indirectly linked to Professor Aurora Bell. The undercurrent is that earth is on the brink of another global war.

Rest of the novel is told from the perspectives of different characters: Prof Norman Bell (husband of Aurora, secretly gay), Aurora Bell (who verifies the incoming message), Pepe Parker (co-worker of Aurora and turns out he had a central part to play), Mayor Southeby, Suzy Q. (mad homeless woman), Sara (waitress who was terrorized by the thugs ), Grayson Pauling (blew up the white house), Deedee Whittier, Ybor Lopez, Gabrielle (student and part-time VR sex actress), Sargent Rabin (secret one-time gay lover of Norman), a mysterious figure called The Historian (red herring), Willy Joe (hoodelum).

Gotta admire Haldeman.

It’s a simple and very clever literary idea/ device: The aliens are coming.

The real novel lies in the sub-plots and the character developments.

Each of the POV-chapters is short enough to keep you interested as the viewpoints change, often overlapping like a literary equivalent of fade-ins. Made me wonder where it all led to. Each bit-part was like a red herring, culminating to a point where it’s down to a few central characters.

Paints a world where UV levels are dangerously high… all these information are implied.

Haldeman continues with his theme of war/ anti-war, fallibility of humans, heroism, sexuality (homosexuality used as a theme here again), VR, relationships, science.

An interplay of humanity’s rationality and irrationality.

You don’t get a sense of complex science, except when used to explain the technology of the aliens, but it isn’t hard science.

The conclusion is a kicker, and worth the wait. I’d say it’s a credible ending. comparatively brief but not anti-climactic.

PLOT SPOILER

Finally the aliens arrive. A couple from future earth. They merely say that they just want to show up to let people know that earth has a future. Then they slump and die.

Another 5 out of 5 rating from me.

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