Plot summary[ edit ] A million years prior to the dawn of Homo sapiens , two immortal , shapeshifting aliens roam the Earth with little memory of their origin or their purpose. In the year , an artifact is discovered off the coast of Samoa , buried deep beneath the ocean floor. The mysterious find attracts the alien beings—the " changeling " and the "chameleon"—to Samoa, where one ponders the meaning of the object and the other speculates on its relationship to each of them. Both immortals seek each other for different reasons: one harbours good intentions toward humanity, while the other is extremely hostile.
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Norrell for the Nebula Award in ? Granted, I havent 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. In contrast, who remembers Camouflage now? How many people recommend it to friends as a great science-fiction book?
I breezed through the audiobook of Camouflage in just 8 hours, and while it was fast-paced and action-packed, it left almost no impression at all. It is the story of two shapeshifting aliens who have lived on the Earth for millennia: one interested in studying humanity, the other a vicious hunter that thrives on human misery and killing. We have two alternating timelines, showing how these shapeshifters have moved throughout human history, often causing legends of resurrection like Jesus Christ to arise, but always adopting new bodies to remain camouflaged, simply mimicking human behaviors to preserve anonymity.
In the future period set in , Dr. Russell Sutton runs a small engineering firm that handles deep undersea projects. One day Admiral Jack Halliburton walks in with an intriguing proposal — recover a military sub that has gone down in the Tonga trench near Samoa, a project that is code-named Poseidon. It has lots of interesting details about how the two shapeshifters take different approaches to interacting with humanity.
We are never really told why the Chameleon is such a one-dimensional sadist — I guess some shapeshifting aliens just are that way. As the Changeling moves closer to the present timeline it starts to wonder about its own alien origins and SETI projects, etc. Meanwhile, the Chameleon cares little for humanity other than to thrive on killing, death, and misery. Probably the most visceral and emotionally intense part of Camouflage relives the Bataan Death March from the eyes of the Changeling.
We see the depravity and inhumanity of man against man. We also get plenty of thriller action as the story converges in American Samoa, where scientists have raised the alien artifact and are trying their damnedest to break through the impossibly hard exterior. Why is it that humans just want to break into things they should probably leave alone? I would hate to question their judgement, but I thought the treatment of gender in Camouflage was fairly superficial and mainly an excuse for explicit sexual encounters between the Changeling and regular humans.
So is Haldeman suggesting that of the two genders women are less aggressive and more thoughtful? Sutton, who we are told is well known to be a pushover for attractive women. In the end, if Camouflage were a first novel written by an unknown author and not by Joe Haldeman, renowned SFWA Grand Master, Science Fiction Hall of Fame member, and multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winner, not only would it not have won the Nebula Award, it may well have made the rounds of publisher rejections as so many books do.
There are far better books in the science-fiction genre more deserving of the Nebula Award than this.