Our Review
The Arrival Is Imminent
Joe Haldeman's latest novel, a tightly constructed near future thriller called The Coming, begins by recapitulating a classic science fictional motif: the moment of first contact with an alien intelligence.

The story begins on October 1, 2054. Aurora (Rory) Bell, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Florida, has just made the discovery of the century. A sophisticated sensing device called a gamma ray burst detector has picked up a message from somewhere beyond the solar system. The easily decrypted message contains two unambiguous words: We're coming. Subsequent analysis reveals that the source of the message is heading directly toward Earth and is scheduled to arrive on the first day of January 2055. A media circus inevitably ensues, as the citizens of Earth attempt to prepare for a wholly unprecedented event.

From this point forward, Haldeman focuses not on the alien spaceship but on the social, political, and environmental conditions of a rapidly deteriorating planet. He envisions a 21st century marked by unpredictable weather patterns and geopolitical chaos, a world in which corruption is an endemic element both of private enterprises and governmental institutions. Controversial -- i.e., gay -- sexual practices have been outlawed. The electoral process has become a joke, ushering in a new generation of leaders who are incompetent and uninformed but intensely photogenic. Most significantly, the nations of Europe are flexing their muscles once again, marshaling their forces for an inevitable -- and catastrophic -- global conflict.

Haldeman's portrait of the century to come is at once familiar and strange, enlivened by a steady flow of imaginative details: automated traffic control systems, virtual reality pornography, designer drugs tailored to the individual DNA. Haldeman shows us this world from the constantly shifting perspective of a variety of characters. Included among them are Rory Bell, whose initial discovery jump-starts the narrative; Norman Bell, a middle-aged composer with a history of "illegal" sexual behavior; Willie Joe Capra, a sadistic bagman with delusions of grandeur; and a nameless "historian," whose ruminations illuminate the cyclical patterns of violence present throughout recorded history.

As always, Haldeman writes with clarity, economy, and wit, skillfully moving his extensive cast toward a climactic moment of revelation in which "hope and caution" predominate. The Coming is both a provocative, cleverly conceived entertainment and a compelling meditation on the eternal human propensity for violent solutions. It is speculative fiction of the highest order and reaffirms its author's position as a modern master of the form.

--Bill Sheehan



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Used availability for Joe W Haldeman's The Coming

Hardback Editions

December 2000 : USA Hardback
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Title: The Coming (Ace Science Fiction)
Author(s): Joe Haldeman
ISBN: 0-441-00769-4 / 978-0-441-00769-1 (USA edition)
Publisher: Ace
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Paperback Editions

November 2001 : USA Mass Market Paperback
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Title: The Coming
Author(s): Joe Haldeman
ISBN: 0-441-00876-3 / 978-0-441-00876-6 (USA edition)
Publisher: Ace
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Audio Editions

May 2012 : USA Audio edition
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Title: The Coming
Author(s): Joe Haldeman
Publisher: Recorded Books
Availability: Amazon   


May 2012 : Canada Audio edition
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Title: The Coming
Author(s): Joe Haldeman
Publisher: Recorded Books
Availability: Amazon CA   


2002 : USA Audio CD
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Title: The Coming
Author(s): Joe Haldeman
ISBN: 1-4361-7445-7 / 978-1-4361-7445-9 (USA edition)
Publisher: RecordedBooks
Availability: Amazon   


2002 : USA Audio CD

Title: The Coming
Author(s): Joe Haldeman
ISBN: 1-4361-7446-5 / 978-1-4361-7446-6 (USA edition)
Publisher: RecordedBooks
Availability: Amazon   


Kindle Editions

September 2016 : USA, Canada Kindle edition
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Title: The Coming
Author(s): Joe Haldeman
Publisher: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   


December 2012 : UK Kindle edition
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Title: The Coming
Author(s): Joe Haldeman
Publisher: Gateway
Availability: Amazon UK