Thursday, May 28, 2015

Joe Haldeman

Joe Haldeman is an author, born in Oklahoma but presently residing in Gainesville, Florida. He may not be a household name, but he's very well known to science fiction fans around the world. He's a recipient of the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award, a SFWA Grand Master, and a member of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

He was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving as a combat engineer in the Vietnam war. He was wounded in combat, and received the Purple Heart. These experiences inspired his first novel, War Year, in 1972, and also influenced later books such as Old Twentieth and Vietnam and Other Alien Worlds.

In 1975, he received an MFA degree in Creative Writing. Somewhere along the way, he drifted down to Florida, and why he chose Gainesville as his home, I'm not sure. His brother, the late Jack C. Haldeman II, also lived in Gainesville, and both brothers authored Star Trek novels - Jack wrote Perry's Planet and Joe wrote Planet of Judgment and World Without End.

His greatest claim to fame, some say, is his 1974 opus The Forever War, but for my money you can't beat his novella The Hemingway Hoax.

In 1921, Ernest Hemingway's wife lost a bag containing the manuscript of his first novel on a train. Since that time, people have wondered what the book contained, and whether it could still be floating around out there. Haldeman's story tells of a man named Baird who, along with a Key West grifter named Castle, propose to create a fake manuscript of Hemingway's lost novel and pass it off as a historic discovery.

Baird later finds, however, that there are cosmic time-traveling entities who monitor life in our universe and in parallel universes, and for complicated reasons, anything that affects the cultural influence of Hemingway is a matter of grave concern to them. If Baird publishes the fake Hemingway novel, it will alter the future in ways that will lead to nuclear war, Baird is told, and will create reverberations that will be catastrophic all through the omniverse as well.

Hemingway himself time-travels to 1996 to personally confront Baird on a train from Boston to Florida, and warns him to give up on the idea. What happens then? Well, read the book.

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