I’m not usually a sci-fi reader and it was only sheer desperation that made me pick this one up in a little town on the Amazon (it was either this or the Book of Mormon Prayer!). However, it turned out to be a very readable thriller with some quite clever angles. I’m still not a sci-fi convert (Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ brought me about as close as the genre ever could). Apparently Joe Haldeman was several times president of the sci-fi writer’s guild of US so I’m sure he knows his stuff. The problem with this books ‘credibility’ (if that is a necessary factor in sci-fi) though, is that it is just way too easy for Haldeman’s superhuman – and occasionally quite kinky – ‘heroine’ to outwit us leaden-minded Neanderthals since she/he/it can take any form she/he/it wishes. In the end you begin to get the impression that even Haldeman is finding this all a bit vague when the ‘chameleon’ begins to take the form of ‘a dirty piece of linoleum’…
I was suffering with dengue on the Amazon at this time so it was a little hard to keep track with what was going on when she turned into what Haldeman described as ‘a strange cartoon-like human character’.
This particular book had already done a good few miles when I found it at Hostel Brasil, Santarem (Brazil). It was stamped with the name of a second-hand bookshop in Quito, Ecuador, so chances are it had already passed down the Amazon from there. Unfortunately, I found it and back-tracked it to Hostel Manaus (the YHA in Manaus). Did anyone pick it up and boomerang it back down past Santarem?
Kitbaggers book project – travel literature on speed.
Have you ever handled a classic paperback and wondered where it’s been and whose hands it passed through? Do you love the well-handled look of a book that’s obviously seen decades of serious mileage through places you might only have imagined?
This project was conceived long ago through a conversation (in San Jose, Costa Rica) between a group of friends who’d wondered about these same things and thought it would be interesting to try to trace the history of just a few random books that we read on the road.
More than just a review – this is also the story of a single adventurous copy that’s probably still out there touring the world somewhere. Let us know if you find it.
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