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Old Twentieth [Mass Market Paperback]

Joe Haldeman
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Old Twentieth + Accidental Time Machine + Peace And War: The Omnibus Edition/Forever Peace, Forever Free, Forever War (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 285 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books; Reprint edition (2 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441013430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441013432
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 10.6 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 376,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joe Haldeman was born in Oklahoma in 1943 and studied physics and astronomy before serving as a combat engineer in Vietnam, where he was severely wounded and won a Purple Heart. The Forever War was his first SF novel and it won both the Hugo and Nebula awards, a feat which The Forever Peace repeated. He is also the author of, among others, Mindbridge, All My Sins Remembered, Worlds, Worlds Apart and Worlds Enough and Time.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top form. 2 Jan 2007
By Bootho
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Although I have found some of Joe Haldeman's more recent works disappointing by his usual high standards, "Old Twentieth" is definitely a return to top form. The story follows the lead character as he investigates problems found within a virtual reality machine on a spaceship populated by humans with a vastly extended life-span on a journey to a distant solar system. Although some of the ideas that are examined may owe more than a nod to Robert Heinlein, Haldeman fills his story with believable characters and a plausible background that doesn't intrude on the story. The story move along at a cracking pace and builds, to me at least, to a surprising if slightly downbeat climax. Wonderful.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
With more Hugo, Nebula, and other prestigious awards than he can probably keep track of, Joe Haldeman is a modern-day master that needs no introduction to science fiction fans. His 1975 novel, The Forever War, to take just one example, is unquestionably Science Fiction 101 material. In his latest offering, Old Twentieth, he offers a nostalgic look back at the good old twentieth century from a distant future where interstellar travel is practical, warfare is a relic of history, and man has seemingly gained immortality.

As we soon learn, however, this idyllic new world hundreds of years in the future came at the heaviest of prices. Ironically, the seeds of man's self-destruction were sown in its greatest triumph, the Becker-Cendrek Process. With the introduction of the BCP pill, man finally attained the ultimate prize of immortality. You could, of course, still die in some horrible accident or fall victim to some devastating attack, but death by natural causes suddenly became a thing of the past. Unfortunately, only the rich and powerful could afford BCP pills at first, and this eventually led to a cataclysmic war between the haves and have-nots, a war that ended rather suddenly and decisively with the introduction of a biological agent called Lot 92. Seven billion people died, leaving two hundred million immortals to rebuild and move on. It was only natural that this new society would eventually reach for the stars.

Jacob Brewer is one of eight hundred volunteers selected to join a five-ship, one thousand-year mission to the Earth-like planet orbiting Beta Hydrii. His primary responsibility, as chief virtuality engineer, is the management and oversight of the onboard "time machine.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only lasted 3 days! 9 Jan 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was the first title I have read by JH. I couldnt put it down. My wife was complaining I was doing nothing (when if fact I was reading!). I had to get to the end. The style of writing is pacey and flowing with what I call plenty of "scenario" of cause and effect into our future.

I had a nasty cough at the time of reading and was trying desperately not to laugh at the "duck" passages, no good, coughing fit ensued. The humour is good. A straight forward uncomplicated story. My only complaint is that it was all over too quickly, but at least I have a new collection to make. (In fact I ordered them already).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read, but not a good book 24 Aug 2012
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I like Joe Haldeman, I like his books, but this wasn't a good one. It only gets three stars rather than two because his writing style is so compelling.

In Old Twentieth Haldeman spends time setting up a potentially very interesting scenario with some interesting characters. Frustratingly he then expands on what in my opinion would have been one of the less interesting sub-plots and makes it the entire story at the cost of all the other potential avenues he could have explored.

The story is interspersed with vignettes which, while interesting in their own right, bear very little relation to and barely add to the main story. They serve merely to allow Haldeman to explore and write in specific historical eras, including of course his favourite topic of wars. In fact the Vietnam war vignette is where Haldeman most obviously comes alive, this of course being the war he fought in and was the inspiration for most of his writing.

The book is generally compelling and has good elements of humour. Being so short I read through it in an evening and enjoyed it. However, I can't help but feel he's missed a trick here. There are a dozen much more interesting and exciting plots he could have chosen to explore in the scenario he weaves. Consequently I was left feeling cheated and disappointed.
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