Haldeman, author of Mindbridge (1976) and the award-winning The Forever War, is a greatly gifted storyteller with a flair for the now-popular technique of using official communiquÃ‰s, computer transcripts, bouillabaisse recipes, and parts catalogues as strategic narrative devices. That he also has something to say ought to be the cake under the icing, but it isn't. Here is Otto McGavin, Prime Operator for the intelligence arm of a power-hungry ""ConfederaciÃ²n."" In each of three successive episodes he is equipped with an artificial ""personality overlay"" to masquerade as another subject: a scientist questioning a strange plague in a gentle slave-laboring population; an assassin in a jungle world of warring clans; a phony missionary evangelizing a planet of beetle-like immortals. At every stage McGavin--a pacifist ""Anglo-Buddhist"" by childhood training--is more firmly co-opted into the vulturous ways of the ConfederaciÃ²n, while building up an increasing subconscious resistance to their manipulations. A good design; but carried off with a fatal facility that reduces moral outrage to a trivial, extraneous ""message.