Joe Haldeman wrote… | David Emeron: Reflections upon Reflections

I certainly am no literary critic; however sometimes… This kind of thing just comes up:

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Tony Lawrence says:

March 6th, 2013 at 1:55 pm Edit

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What works would you consider being “awesome, wicked cool?” I’ve just read and reviewed his novel, “Worlds Apart,” which I thought could’ve been presented better in writing.


David Emeron says:

March 7th, 2013 at 1:32 am Edit

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Well, young man, I do not usually “give crit” as oft-times is it so refereed here on wordpress. Still I do make an exception here and there when the author is a well published, very established professional who has certainly heard and read much worse than anything I will say or write–no doubt from his own editors.

Although I did enjoy the Worlds novels, they are in fact of the type I mentioned–well written, engaging enough, I suppose. Our Mr. Haldeman certainly knows story structure and has a polished hand. But still, for him, these novels are lacklustre. If perhaps he was not capable of writing a variety of novel that is much more original and interesting… perhaps then, it might seem less so; but all the while reading them–and the Forever series–I could not help comparing them to those very original works of which I know he is capable.

I confess, I have not read all he has written; however, if you had perused my entire entry above, you might have see me make mention of “Buying Time” and “Mindbridge.” “Mindbridge,” for example is one of those very original works. Even from a distance, quite literally (in that even if the pages are too far away from your eyes to read) many of them appear fascinating.) Since this was the first novel by Mr. Haldeman that I read–and I read it when it was new, so many years ago–and, since it amazed me so, and was so very original and entertaining, it tended to be the standard by which I “judged,” so to speak, his other work. He has not written exclusively such works as “Mindbridge” by any means–many of his works are quite conventional. I meant every word I wrote up above. His “normal” prose–while it might generally not seem so coming from another writer–seems lacklustre coming from Mr. Haldeman, of whom I know to be capable of much more interesting, entertaining, and thought provoking work.

Decades later, I came across “Buying Time,” also very original and Haldemanesque in its originality, perhaps even surpassing Mindbridge in this way. It made me laugh in ways in which I have not done before, and made me think, and was entertaining and unpredictable, but most of all, his unique presentation–some might call them gimmicks; but he uses them to such effect that I would not call them such–was most definitely something a man perhaps the better part of a century younger than I might term “awesome,” or “wicked cool.” I dare say, my socks were, by this novel, “knocked so far off,” that I never did recover them. At least in the laundry I generally lose but one at a time.

I hear tell of other novels of his which are at this level of originality, but I do not know which they are at present. “Buying Time” was written a great deal of time after “Mindbridge,” and it shows. Like it or not, you will no doubt perceive this if you read them both.

There was a decade or two in which I read exclusively science fiction, and at that time, he was perhaps my favourite–at least in some respects.

It was in fact, “Mindbridge” that caused Steven King to pen his now famous and much reprinted quote regarding Mr. Haldeman; something to the effect of: “If there was a Fort Knox for science-fiction writers who really matter, we would have to keep Joe Haldeman locked up in there.” I am paraphrasing, of course; the Google search box is very far away from my mouse cursor at present, perhaps a whole 8 or 9 inches!


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Joe Haldeman wrote…

…quite a lot of ground-breaking science fiction.   Being of a rather childish sort, I tend to like his more quirky, flashy, more “Haldemanesque” novels.   Mindbridge, and Buying Time come to mind.  His other work, though exemplary, I can take or leave.  Any old writer can crank out plain-jane, dull, boring-looking blocks of prose that look like nothing more than…  well…  boring-looking blocks of prose–indistinguishable, unless read, from any other such blocks.  To write something that looks “really cool,” so to speak… something that, dare I say “knocks your socks off” with its originality, even from a distance, before you read it; yet is not some kind of random junk of the type produced by other “avant-garde” writers attempting simply to confuse–to make the well seem deep, by obscuring its shallow bottom, so to speak… no, to write something such as I describe takes… well, actually… Joe Haldeman.

Anything else about the man, including his less imaginative–and eminently less entertaining–prose, and his strangely (for one so unique) collectivist, and anti-individualist views, holds little interest for me.

I would, of course, prefer that one of the most amazing and interesting such writers, might be a little less crazy; however, I suppose one might say it goes with the territory.  Although not always.  Refreshingly not, I am happy to so state.

Still, if Mr. Haldeman had a blog on wordpress, I’d give him a “follow,” and any number of random “likes” and an occasional comment; because, that’s what we do here.  And in all good faith.   But that…  is about all.   And though at this point he clearly doesn’t need it, he’ll not get another dime from me.

UNLESS…   he writes another of the “awesome, wicked-cool” non-boring works of which he is most capable.   Then I might not be able to help myself.  God forgive me.