“Worlds” by Joe Haldeman

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I was asked to review a new Kindle edition of Joe Haldeman’s Worlds, a novel originally written in 1983. Based solely on the summary on the publisher’s description, Worlds sounds like a perfect fit for me. Hundreds of years into the future, humans have established space station habitats in orbit around Earth called “worlds.” Marianne O’Hare, a political science student, get swept up in a revolutionary movement. Unfortunately, Haldeman’s execution of this concept never fulfills the promise.

First, the world-building never entirely convinced me. Haldeman briefly explains that after the Second Revolution the United States abolished the presidency and that the Congress is under the influence of Lobbies. We keep hearing the characters talk about their dissatisfaction with the government, but we never get a sense of why they are dissatisfied. There’s little sense of oppression, much less anything to motivate a revolution. The characters enjoy considerable freedom of travel both within and between countries. Overall, the political context seems very shallow.

Moreover, Worlds spends at least as much time on O’Hare’s sex life as it does on the politics. O’Hare bounces between lovers every few pages. It’s not clear if and how O’Hare’s sex life relates thematically to the hard sci-fi concepts or the political intrigue. More importantly, it’s just boring. None of O’Hare’s boyfriends comes across as particularly interesting and what distinguishes them seems to be their physical characteristics (one is muscular, another is skinny, etc.). It’s the sort of romance I’d expect from a teen fantasy like Twilight .

Ultimately, I ended up only finishing about half of the novel before giving up. I recognize that this book wasn’t for me, despite the tantalizing summary on the back cover.

[I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.]

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About Dom

I study constitutional politics in Southeast Asia and I occasionally work as a consultant for rule of law projects. I enjoy science fiction and fantasy stories, both as an escape and as a way to better understand our world. One day, I hope to write a book about politics in genre literature.
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