cover image The Hemingway Hoax: A Short Comic Novel of Existential Terror

The Hemingway Hoax: A Short Comic Novel of Existential Terror

Joe Haldeman. William Morrow & Company, $16.95 (155pp) ISBN 978-0-688-09024-1

Devotees of SF and literary mystery will enjoy this fast-paced, well-thought-out adventure that takes a college professor and Hemingway scholar on an eerie journey to coexisting universes. Nebula and Hugo Award-winner Haldeman ( The Forever War ) has written a tale that twists upon itself like a Moebius strip, with characters reenacting their lives in each slightly different, slightly worse universe. In a Key West bar, Baird is conned into writing a story in Hemingway's 1920s style, which could be passed off as one of the contents of the famous valise left on a train by Hemingway's then-wife Hadley. Returning to Key West from the Hemingway collection at the Kennedy Library, Baird suddenly finds Ernest Hemingway sitting opposite him in the train compartment. This is, however, a nonhuman who can take on any form, and who has come to warn Baird not to finish the Hemingway pastiche. In a lively, philosophical conversation, the temporal policeman explains that if Baird continues in his plan he will be killed. As each attempt to murder him fails, Baird finds himself in a slightly altered universe--and in one of these supernatural worlds, Baird evolves into Hemingway himself. Haldeman has injected humor and philosophy into what turns out to be an intriguingly existential drama. (June)