Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Joe Haldeman

Pub Date: May 15th, 1992
ISBN: 0-688-09025-7
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

 Third of Haldeman's trilogy, as insipid and lackluster as Worlds and World Apart, except where the closing chapters burst into technicolor with another memorable set of Haldeman's patented all-but-omnipotent aliens. The trilogy's protagonist, Marianne O'Hara, leaves Earth and its orbiting Worlds aboard a huge interstellar ship, Newhome (Earth, ravaged by nuclear war and disease, will take decades to recover). A computer-constructed artificial personality based on O'Hara helps with the narrative duties, to no great effect. She has two husbands and a wife. She's heavily involved in shipboard politics, which secretly are organized to give the voters an illusion of choice while ensuring that the real decisions remain undisputed. Ho-hum. On the voyage, various things go wrong: A computer virus beamed from the Earth-orbiting New New York scrambles most of their data; a plague kills off all the plants, so most people retire into cold sleep. Half a century later, the ship reaches its destination, and at last the plot perks up: The planet is inhabited by advanced aliens who threaten to exterminate what remains of humanity unless O'Hara passes their psychological tests. She does, and civilization is reborn. Disappointing work from a writer whose narrative charm and plotting skills are rarely enriched by characters to match: here, O'Hara is an utterly boring and unconvincingly female narrator, and only the splendid aliens save this one from total lethargy.