Joe Haldeman
Mindbridge Cover



Thanks to the wonders of Levant-Meyer Translation technology, one of those science fictional devices for FTL travel best taken on the author's terms rather than questioned for its scientific grounds, humans now send teams of Tamers to distant planets to test them for possible terraforming. This is tricky and dangerous work with results than can be bloody and disastrous. On a planet the second out from Groombridge 1618, Jacque Lafavre and his team bring back what appears to be a sluglike alien life form. This unprepossessing creature allows for telepathic communication, but unfortunately kills the first person to touch it. Secondary users survive the experience. This is plot thread # One for Mindbridge.

Plot thread # Two involves a first encounter with some very dangerous or possibly just misunderstood aliens known as L'vrai. They provide creepy thrills and some old-fashioned monster movie mayhem for the last third of the novel.

Plot thread # Three is the love affair of Jacque Lafavre and Carol Wachal, which is never very interesting but survives some of the most sexist notions of "Go forth and multiply" to make it into a SF novel.

Haldeman, in his second novel, more or less keeps all this tied together, interspersing chapters with transcripts of telepathic sessions, detailed work orders, progress reports, and charts. This might have been Haldemann dabbling in some postmodernist textual experiments, or a way to bulk up a novella-length story into a manuscript that could be published as a novel. Mindbridge is something of a sophomore slump afterThe Forever War, but it is enjoyable and really picks up once the L'vrai make their appearance.