If it were possible to leave just a one word review of a book here on blogcritics.org, that would be my complete review of Joe Haldeman’s Earthbound. Sure there are more things that I could say, but any other words I bring into use would simply be there to dance around that original idea and try to enhance it by echoing the sentiment over and over again.
Despite going into this book having not read the two books which proceed it in the overall story arc, Haldeman’s words drive immediately to the point and made me feel as if I had not necessarily missed a single thing. Sure there were people and characters I didn’t know that seemed to share that previous history between themselves that occasionally left me feeling like a voyeur late to their show, but what Haldeman gave me in the scant 261 pages of Earthbound laid before my eyes enough to feel as if I truly had the chance to know them individually.
Set on an earth that has had contact with Mars, Martians and a race known as the “Others” Earthbound begins with a bang as you turn that opening page to find that the moon has been destroyed. The “Others” intend all the billions of disintegrated parts to serve as a boundary that they do not wish us to pass. Of course, being human, we try to send a rocket up just to see if we can pass… and that’s when the rug gets pulled out from under the entire world.
The “Others” turn off the power. Literally.
From there we are left with characters, some of them famous for having been among the first to set foot on Mars, as well as an actual Martian, who have to figure out just what to do and where to go now that the world has pretty much been cut off.
Think about that. How long would we last if all the power on Earth were turned off? No transportation. No communication. Nothing. How many would die in flights that had planes suddenly stop working in mid air? How many from cars that could not steer or stop anymore on our highways? How many in hospitals no longer able to sustain them? How many with no way of getting food or medicine?
It’s a brutal and hideous idea, and Haldeman is able to give a glimpse into it as well as the possibility of rising above that — both literally and figuratively — within the pages of this book.
It took me just a little over two hours to read this book. Heaven as my witness I wish it were a longer book, so that I could have stayed in its world just a bit more. Instead, I am left staring at its cover and thinking of only one word.
It’s the only word I can come up with just fifteen minutes or so after turning that final page and thinking how GOOD this book was.
Joe Haldeman’s Earthbound is scheduled to be published on December 6, 2011 by Ace Hardcover. It is the third and concluding chapter to his space opera trilogy that began with Marsbound and continued with Starbound.