Wednesday, February 20, 2013

6. All My Sins Remembered by Joe Haldeman

All My Sins Remembered shares similar themes to the only other Joe Haldeman book I've read (and his most well known), The Forever War:  war and time and how they effect the individual.  In this book, the protagonist is a Prime Operator, an elite agent for a universal peacekeeping force.  He is sent from civilization to civilization disguised as a local with plastiflesh and a personality overlay (which only allows his true personality to come through in moments of crisis).  The book is made up of several separate episodes, interspersed with debriefings, without much of a thread beyond the main character to tie it all together.  Two of the chapters were actually stand-alone short stories in Galaxy magazine. I don't know if he always intended them to be part of a larger narrative or if he went back and stitched them together to get a book.  It holds together fairly well, but more because the concept is cool and the episodes are each quite interesting on their own.  The protagonist's fate feels a bit forced precisely because his internal arc only really moves forward in the debriefing sessions and not in the episodes.  The things that affect him happen in missions that he only refers to and not ones you read about.  The parallel to the Vietnam war and its effect on US soldiers is strong here and I suspect that's what Haldeman was going for.  He doesn't quite get there, but it is still an enjoyable read.

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