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2.7 out of 5 stars
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2.7 out of 5 stars
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This is one of those books which some people love and others absolutely hate. For me it deserved five stars but there will be other readers, some of whom enjoyed the first few books in the series, for whom one star would be too many.

"Homeward Bound" is the eighth and probably final book in the series which begins with an alien invasion of earth in the middle of World War II.

The full sequence is

WORLDWAR Quartet, starting in 1942: warring human nations forced to unite against lizardlike Aliens from Tau Ceti 2.

Worldwar: In the Balance

Worldwar: Tilting the Balance

Worldwar: Upsetting the Balance

Worldwar: Striking the Balance

COLONISATION Trilogy, starting about 1962: twenty years after the initial alien attack a second fleet full of colonists arrives, touching off a further round of intrigue and war

Colonisation: Second contact

Colonisation: Down to earth

Colonisation: aftershocks

HOMEWARD BOUND: in 2031 an American spaceship arrives at Tau Ceti to pay the aliens a return visit ...

The first thing to understand about this book if you want to decide whether you would be one of those who love it or one of those who hate it, is that the "Alternative History" element is very small indeed. Most of the action happens in 2031, seventy years after the alien invasion, and very few historical figures are recognisable.

There are a few little touches relating to real people - I caught references to Henry Kissenger ("The Doctor"), James Dean (no car crash, he lived to old age) and Matt Damon. And one of the comic touches in the book is a "lizard" (e.g. Tau Cetan) policeman who is clearly a parody of Lieutenant Columbo. But essentially this is a novel of alien contact, not alternative history.

The biggest difference between this book and the WorldWar quartet is that the book is about diplomacy and is not a war story. Turtledove often writes books which contain a lot of fighting, but not all his books are war stories and this one isn't. If you are one of the readers who liked his "Great War" series but didn't like the "American Empire" followup, or if you liked most of David Weber's Honor Harrington books but didn't like "War of Honor" then do not even think of buying "Homeward Bound".

One other characteristic of Harry Turtledove which doesn't bother everyone but which really annoys some people is that he repeats things. A lot. In fact, a very great deal. This is one of those books which has a lot of repetition, so if you are the sort of reader who feels patronised or annoyed when a writer repeats things, you may want to leave this one alone.

Good things about the book: I thought the characters, both human and alien, were well drawn, interesting and believeable. There was some interesting speculation about the likely human cost of early interstellar travel. The sources of tension between humans and aliens - ecological impacts, cultural differences, rivalry for territory, drug trading, and fear of attack, were well explored.

Bottom line, if you're looking for alternative history, a war story or one with a lot of action, leave it alone. If you want to read an intesting speculation about how two races might interact in the early days of interstellar travel, you may find this a really good book.
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on 21 November 2005
Or if you need the adrenaline rush delivered by his earlier novels.
My expectations were limited and proven right. Don’t expect anything like the original (World War) trilogy; it clearly wasn’t going to be like those. Turtledove has moved the plot along to the aftermath and in this book rapidly takes us (and humans) back to the Race’s own planet (Home), with our own technology equal to and now beginning to pull ahead of theirs. The book focuses mainly on the repercussions of this to the Lizards, and how the two societies might stumble towards some kind of hegemony.
It is entertaining in its own way, and as I didn’t expect to be gripped as I was by the original series I wasn’t disappointed. I won’t be giving much away to say that all the action takes place in meeting rooms.
My real criticism, and the reason for the low score, is simply the lack of imagination and creativity this work shows. As a Sci-fi writer I would expect Mr Turtledove to be able to conjure up an alien society that is sufficiently different from ours, but he funked this one completely. In almost every way he simply makes the Race a mirror of ours; just with the ‘people’ being reptilian rather than mammals. So Home is just like earth, cities, transport, society, culture, food, pets (even!), the media and everything else exactly as it is here, adjusted slightly for smaller creatures and a hotter, dryer climate. There’s even a Lizard detective who is ‘Colombo’ with grubby scales.
Maybe this is a book too far. By showing the aliens to be so ‘human’ and basically decent, he gains our sympathy for them, but in doing so strips away any remaining scariness that is vital to sustain an ‘alien invasion’ storyline. An enjoyable read, but only worth 2 stars.
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on 13 March 2006
I was motivated to write something about Turtledove's novel by the rather negative tone of the other reviews. The point is that this novel (I agree with other regulars that the ending definitely leaves it open to write more novels set in this universe) is really not alternative history SF. We are now many years from the intervention point in WWII when the Race attacked Earth. What we have here is a SF story about first interstellar mission. It needs to be compared rather with Turtledove's straight science fiction, somewhat Poul Anderson influenced it seems to me, like Earthgrip and Non-interference.
It is an accomplished portrait of a very different alien society. It may basically be capitalistic, and in other respects similar to our own, but in many psychological aspects it is very different. I think many of the criticisms are unfair. It is the similarity between the Race and Humans that gives the differences their cutting-edge. After all, there has to be certain similarities for there to be like concepts of Government, war, peace, conquest and colonisation between the various species. To say more would be to give away the crucial plot denouement.
So this novel should be read as what it is, not an alternate universe (except in so far as any science fiction novel is an alternate universe), but an investigation of interstellar diplomacy. Of course most of it is talk and the equivalent of smoke-fill rooms -- this is one of all about diplomacy and avoiding war, not military SF.
Those who like the science fiction of the 50s/60/70s are likely to enjoy this novel. Those looking for alternative history are likely to find the disappointment, as the other reviewers.
If you enjoyed early Turtledove you will, I think, enjoy this,
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on 25 August 2006
A few criticisms to get out of the way first:

1) Too much repetition

2) Sub plots which begin and go no further

3) It's not similar to either World War or Colonisation books

It seems that it's the final point here that has upset most people. If you're looking for fast paced action, then you're best going elsewhere.

If however, you're looking for an author who's actually put a bit of thought into life on an alien world and what it means to humans who arrive there. Then, ignoring the other points, you're likely to enjoy this book.

The author has dropped the usual gun play and aimed for a diplomatic thriller with alien world complexities thrown in. The book could do with more pace, however I've enjoyed the thought that's gone into it. Providing you realise what you're getting in this book it shouldn't disappoint.
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on 30 January 2005
The problem with this book compared to the others in the series is it's lack of detail and scope. There are no descriptions of the Earth Ships, new Earth technology and the political factions on Earth It deals mainly with the American and Race characters and their 'middle-aged' inter relationships and dialogue is often repetetive and quite fustrating. It seems a shame the author did not put his considerable talent to full use with this book. Mr Turtledove if you are reading, Earth is not just America please bear this in mind in future books of the series!
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on 4 February 2015
if you have read the rest its like the author needed to tell you the whole story again up to page 200 would like to say wow but seeing i've not bothered reading it for 2 weeks was hoping the ending would be better than the start,Will see.
(the first 4/5 where fun to read the last one did not match up)well will find out started reading the last 300 pages.
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on 27 February 2005
I was eagerly looking forward to Homeward Bound having read all the World War books previously. Sadly this, for me at least, was not the end of the story I expected. Too much repitition was used to pad the book out. The book while still featuring a host of familar characters did not bring the story to a satisfactory close. Indeed, the rather strange ending seems to have left the door open for a return to this tale. No offence Harry, but this just didn't cut it for me after the excellence of the previous epic story.
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on 29 March 2006
If you read any of the other 'World war' books and enjoyed them then don't read this book.
I have to wonder why he wrote this book at all. It has none of the tension or action of the early World War books. It's a story of Humans making their first intersteller voyage and nothing else.
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on 9 December 2005
I was an avid reader of the World War and Colonisation series. This book was supposed to tie up all the loose ends and showm humanity reaching Home. Well, we did reach Home, but it most certainly did not tie up loose ends. In fact, although this is the last book in the series, it reads as if there is another book to come. In other words, it ends abruptly. No resolution, no ending, nothing. I feel cheated, I read all 8 books and have nothing to show for it. Take my advice, leave it at the Colonisation series, don't bother with this one, it's a waste of time and money. 2 stars for the story, no stars for the 'ending'.
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on 27 March 2006
It's a shame really, world war was possibly one of my favourite book series of all time, a really interesting, gripping story. The colonisation series, was a fine, but not quite as brilliant, sequel. Then comes the epilogue, as an epilogue it has to bring the story to a close, it does not, in fact it fails to tie up ANY of the loose ends from colonisation and introduces a few more. Therefore, as the book has failed to deliver on it's purpose, it is a failed piece of writing. A real shame, i really like Turtledove normally, but i'm getting increasingly dissalusioned with his work. Sorry!!!!
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