Science Fiction Reviews

The Coming

(2000) Joe Haldeman, Ace, US$6.99 (CAN $9.99), pbk, pp278, ISBN 0-441-00876-3

Astronomy Professor Rory Bell detects a message coming from space. A closer inspection reveals that it is coming from something decelerating but heading to intersect with Earth. If the calculations are right these visitors will arrive in three months time. However the Earth is not ready to provide a unified front against, or to receive, whatever it is that is coming. Haldeman's novel charts the three months from the discovery to the arrival.

Joe Haldeman will be well known to Concatenation regulars, so most of you folk know that he is an accomplished hard SF writer. The Coming does not disappoint. True it is not up there with his all time classic, The Forever War, but The Coming in its own right is a fair work and a proverbial solid read. Unfortunately, though, it is predominantly a climactic book which I can't go into as that would spoil your enjoyment. However the background near future Haldeman portrays carries you along. There is a spot of computer crime. The police dart you in Haldeman's near-future, and the effects of the drug are taken into account in any testimony perpetrators give the arresting officers. The World is suffering from environmental degradation and war threatens. Then there is the politicking surrounding the discoverer as the tension builds up between those wanting to share in the glory and those distancing themselves from the discovery lest it turns out to be a hoax, not to mention those vacillating. In this respect The Coming has its parallels with the 1972, James E. Gunn novel The Listeners which Haldeman acknowledges up front. The Coming is yet another well crafted tale from one of the genre's stalwarts.

Jonathan Cowie

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