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The Best Of Joe Haldeman
Joe Haldeman
Subterranean Press, 504 pages

The Best Of Joe Haldeman
Joe Haldeman
Joe Haldeman's awards include the Hugo, the Nebula, and the World Fantasy Award. His SF classic, The Forever War, along with The Hemingway Hoax, and the Worlds trilogy are just a few of the titles that have made him a household name in the realm of SF. A Vietnam veteran, he is currently an adjunct professor teaching writing at MIT.

Joe Haldeman Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Marsbound
SF Site Review: The Accidental Time Machine
SF Site Review: Old Twentieth
SF Site Review: Guardian
SF Site Review: Forever Peace
SF Site Review: The Forever War
SF Site Review: The Coming
SF Site Review: Forever Free
SF Site Review: Forever Peace
SF Site Review: Forever Peace
SF Site Review: Saul's Death & other poems

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Greg L. Johnson

When a collection begins with the three words "The Best Of" it's a certainty that you're dealing with a well-established writer. Such a collection generally serves two purposes. One is for those who already know the author's work, here's easy access to favorites old and new. The other is for readers less familiar with or new to the author, here's easy access to the best work of a writer with a long-standing body of work. The Best Of Joe Haldeman fulfills both functions splendidly, introducing and celebrating stories that have entertained readers and helped set the standards for quality of thought and artistry in science fiction.

Critics like to talk of science fiction as an on-going conversation, with new works re-examining the assumptions, and conclusions, of their predecessors. Joe Haldeman has been involved in this conversation from the beginning of his career. The Forever War, his first novel, was read as an answer to Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers, and "Hero," the story that was later expanded into The Forever War, leads off the collection. Even in short form, the graphic detail and attitude of the characters sets it apart from most military SF. In like manner, "More Than The Sum Of His Parts" begins with a nod to "Flowers For Algernon," but by the end becomes more reminiscent of Alfred Bester's "Fondly Fahrenheit." "Tricentennial" recalls numerous stories of spaceships that get stuck traveling near the speed of light, while adding a touch of "The Marching Morons" to those left behind.

It isn't just other SF that Haldeman's stories interact with. In what are possibly the collection's two best pieces, "For White Hill" and "The Hemingway Hoax," the inspiration comes from Shakespeare and, you guessed it, Hemingway. "For White Hill" is a far-future romance, with post-human characters, discussions of art, and the end of the world all built around one of Shakespeare's most famous sonnets. "The Hemingway Hoax" combines shifting realities, the rigors of a professor's life, a time patrol organization, and an attempt to re-create the missing pages of Hemingway's writing, all wrapped up in one big knot of an ending. It's well-deserving of both the Hugo and Nebula awards it won..

The Best Of Joe Haldeman also ventures into horror, political conspiracies, anthropological science fiction, even a young adult adventure story set on Mars. These are the topics of a writer whose work has stretched across most of the themes and styles of modern SF, whose work has been an integral part of the on-going conversation that is science fiction. To read The Best Of Joe Haldeman is to partake in that conversation at the highest level, fueled by a collection of stories whose ideas, characters, and themes will be talked about for as long as that conversation goes on.

Copyright © 2013 by Greg L. Johnson

Reviewer Greg L Johnson likes to think that reviewing is part of the conversation, too. Greg's reviews have appeared in publications ranging from The Minneapolis Star-Tribune to the The New York Review of Science Fiction.

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