Joe William Haldeman (born June 9, 1943) is an American Science Fiction writer who burst onto the scene with his controversial 1970s novel, The Forever War, which was very loosely based on his experiences in the still-ongoing Vietnam War. The novel won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. His later novel, Forever Peace, which was unrelated (though a Spiritual Successor), also won both those awards. He has written over twenty-five novels, and many short stories. In 2010, he was declared a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America.
Works by Joe Haldeman with a page on this Wiki:
Selected other works by Joe Haldeman:
- All My Sins Remembered
- Camouflage (winner of the Nebula Award)
- Forever Peace (winner of the Hugo and Nebula Award)
- The Hemingway Hoax (winner of the Hugo Award)
- Planet of Judgement and World Without End (two Star Trek novelsnote )
- The Worlds Trilogy (Worlds, Worlds Apart, and Worlds Enough and Time)
Tropes in his other works:
- Alien Catnip: In "A !Tangled Web", the !tang (who look like "perambulating haystack[s] with an elephant's trunk protruding") become intoxicated from eating sugar, and alcohol is like a psychedelic drug to them. On the flip side, "one bite of !tang bread contain[s] enough mescaline to make you see interesting things for hours"; one human fellow who eats some spends time "amusing them with impersonations of various Earth vegetables."
- And I Must Scream: The two protagonists of Buying Time were zapped by an experimental drug that had an unamusing side effect of slowing down their time sense precipitously. The result was a two-week inter-planetary trip back to Earth was for them a twenty year, near freeze-frame odyssey.
- Apocalypse How Class X-4: The possibility of accidentally doing this to ourselves is the focus of Forever Peace. A massive supercollider with a diameter the same as one of Jupiter's moons (being built along said moon's equator) won't just simulate conditions within nanoseconds of the Big Bang — it'll set off another Big Bang. Because we now have the ability to annihilate not just ourselves, but possibly the entire universe, the main characters consider themselves under an ethical obligation to explore and perhaps force peace upon humanity through some Applied Phlebotinum, because somebody's going to push that button someday. In fact, somebody wants to.
- Be All My Sins Remembered: In the novel All My Sins Remembered, the hero is a spy/operative for the galactic government. The novel is a series of debriefings where he tells what he had to do in the line of duty, and how those memories are gnawing on his conscience. The true horror of it is that in each case, his actions should have served to make the universe a better place, but his sacrifices were screwed over in the name of Real Politik, and his "debriefings" are in fact part of memory-erasure "therapy" that are reducing him to a drooling vegetable.
- Contemptible Cover: All My Sins Remembered has several things arranged in a surreal fashion on the cover, each apparently intended to portray one event of the story in a metaphorical fashion rather than a literal one. However, it is uncertain what might correspond to a naked man committing a sexual act with a giant snake.
- Death World: Planet Hell in There Is No Darkness.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: Played with in the short story "A Time to Live", when the protagonist is talking to a Sufficiently Advanced Alien.I asked him why he didn't show me his true form. I am too old to be afraid of bogeymen. He did change into his true form and I asked that he change back into one of the others. I had to know which end to talk to.
- Gainax Ending: Haldeman has written several novels (Mindbridge, Forever Free, Worlds trilogy) where the plot seems to have come to a halt, and the resolution apparently is to introduce an all-powerful, invisible, sadistic alien that randomly murders and tortures several of the characters. Then this alien wanders off, apparently satisfied it's made its point, whatever that was. Then the plot continues to some anti-climatic 'and life goes on' type of ending.
- The Great Politics Mess-Up: Worlds, written in 1981, is set in roughly 2085, with a significant population living on satellite semi-independent "worlds" in space, but makes note that on Earth, most of Asia is now part of the "Supreme Socialist Union."
- In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves: Forever Peace starts at the assumption that this trope is entirely true, but a means to create perfect empathy has been discovered, potentially averting this trope entirely - but those in the know face the ethical problem of whether they can force others through the process, because very few people (especially those in power) would volunteer for it. When they discover someone in power has been intentionally hiding the knowledge that a new scientific megaproject could annihilate the galaxy at least by birthing a new universe, the protagonists enact their plan to force empathy on others through a coordinated set of coups d'etat, concluding humanity's mutually-destructive impulses cannot be permitted to continue for the sake of other possible species out there as well as itself.
- Island Help Message: In the Star Trek novel Planet of Judgment, when Captain Kirk's survey party is trapped on a planet without means of communication, they lay out a series of symbols once used by stranded airmen to communicate with the Enterprise.
- The Law of Conservation of Detail: Ignored in The Coming. The story follows a lot of characters, most of which ultimately do nothing for the plot. (Seriously, there was even a porn actress thrown in.)
- Literary Allusion Title: Worlds Enough and Time (the third book in the Worlds trilogy) is a reference to "To His Coy Mistress", a poem by Andrew Marvell.
- No Such Thing as Wizard Jesus: In Camouflage, an alien with the ability to change shape and heal from seemingly fatal injuries who was on Earth at Jesus' time hears of him and wonders if he was another of the same species, but never manages to find out anything for sure.
- Nudity Equals Honesty: In Forever Peace, the heroes discover that mentally linking humans for as long as a month will cause them to become "humanized" and turn pacifistic, even if they were serial killers or psychopaths. Towards the end a large group of war vets and refugees undergo the process, and when the complex is attacked they all strip naked and exit as a crowd to show they mean no harm.
- Only Fatal to Adults: In the novel Worlds Apart (book two of the Worlds trilogy), he ties the disease to when the body reduces production of human growth hormone. So there are some adults around because they suffer from acromegaly, a disease where adults produce too much human growth hormone.
- Orion Drive: Tricentennial featured the Daedelus (or John F. Kennedy, or Leonid Brezhnev - apparently spaceships are also prone to renaming), which was powered by nuclear bombs.
- Patchwork Story: All My Sins Remembered
- Punctuation Shaker: "A !Tangled Web", a short story involving a race called the !Tang.
- Scary Dogmatic Aliens: Subverted in Forever Peace. The humans develop a technology that lets them share memories in real time. The first clinical test of the device on a dozen psychopaths and murderers led to them rapidly developing a Hive Mind and turning pacifist. The military backers of the technology freak out and try to destroy all traces of the experiment. They fail. Haldeman explicitly states, repeatedly, that he sees 'a radical increase in empathy' to be absolutely critical to humanity's survival in the modern age. Haldeman portrays communism positively.
- Screw Yourself: The short story "Blood Sisters" involved the Mafia cloning a young heiress in order to substitute the clone and get the inheritance. The clone didn't want any part of the plan — she thought of the original as her mother and didn't want her murdered — and went to a private detective to ask for help hiding from the Mob. When she finally met the heiress, however, the mutual attraction was strong enough to overcome any qualms about being intimate with her mother. The detective comments, "I did wonder what you would call what they were doing. Was it a weird kind of incest? Transcendental masturbation?" At the end of the story, it's mentioned that original and clone openly being lovers "started a fad among the wealthy, being the first new sexual diversion since the invention of the vibrator."
- Shapeshifter Showdown: In Camouflage, the showdown between the only two aliens on earth comes into fruition when Jack a.k.a. the chameleon decides to follow his natural killing impulse and faces Rae/ Sharon / Jimmy a.k.a. the changeling. Rae's ruses include transforming her severed arm in a monster with metal nails, knuckles as eyes, and centipede-like legs; while Jack transformed in a more brute figure: a neanderthal. Since both of them are pretty much immortal the confrontation gets unabashedly gory, it finishes rather unexpectedly though when the artifact (Rae's partner in action a.k.a her flying sauce) lunges over the chameleon, jailing and freezing him for further examination in their home planet.
- Spiritual Successor: Forever Peace is, as the name implies, a spiritual successor to The Forever War despite taking place in a very different setting and, indeed, having very different basic assumptions about the setting. It reads as a more "mature" attempt to understand war by probing questions about the inevitable results of technological advances in warfare in the future that The Forever War glossed over so that its sci-fi war could be a clearer parallel to Vietnam.
- Star Killing: In the story, "For White Hill", hostile aliens make Earth's sun go nova. The plot is about making a memorial for Earth.
- Tele-Frag: In the novel Mindbridge, there is a mention of the Los Alamos disaster. "Two human bodies trying to occupy the same place at the same time turned a mountain into a deep valley and spread heavy fallout from Albuquerque to Mexico City"
- Utopia Justifies the Means: Played heroically in Forever Peace, where the main characters discover that a project to recreate and study the early Big Bang will, well... cause a new Big Bang. Given that humanity now has the means to wipe out the universe, the heroes decide to force the war-torn near-future Earth into peace by forcibly implanting neural jacks into key figures in the multinational military, and then hooking them up to each other and many others to force empathy and the inability to kill (directly or indirectly) on them, and then eventually on to humanity at large. The final death toll of their project is actually quite small, and it is much more favorable compared to the alternative.
- Weaponized Teleportation: Mindbridge has a race which uses miniature teleporting field projectors as cutting weapons.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: In the epistolary short story "More Than the Sum of His Parts", a lunar construction worker has half his body burned away when he gets caught in a jet of mercury vapor, and undergoes massive reconstructive surgery, including robotic limbs and a prosthetic penis. He gets completely drunk with the power and capability of his new extremities. Hilarity Ensues.