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Buying Time by Joe Haldeman
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Buying Time (1979)

by Joe Haldeman

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» See also 3 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
A fun SF story about a well-thought out immortality and it's effect on personality, society, and financials. The book has plenty of story, action, and plot twists that keep it very interesting as the science is broken down. The characters are great, but don't hold too much personality. While it is a very good book, it is not as good as Forever War. SF fans should still check out this book though. ( )
  renbedell | Jul 26, 2017 |
Repeatedly referred to women as "slits". DNF. ( )
  zyphax | Apr 26, 2017 |
A good, compelling read. The strange biology came out of nowhere at the end, and didn't seem necessary to resolve the plot. But the resolution worked anyway, even if it was given somewhat more cursory attention than the rest of the plot. ( )
  teknognome | Nov 14, 2016 |
I've read a lot of Haldeman's books and this one is, by far, my favorite.
( )
  Garrison0550 | May 10, 2016 |
My reactions to reading this book in 1990. Some spoilers follow.

Haldeman, in this novel, exhibits his trademark style: a fast-paced story of hard science and action told with a grace of sparse writing and cynical, wry, black humor. Here Haldeman tackles the immortal/longevity theme of sf. As usual with Haldeman, he has given thought to the complexities of his subject but doesn’t let that slow his narrative pace or clutter his style. The idea of a very complex life renewing treatment purchased every ten years at the cost of a million pounds or an entire fortune, whichever is more, is well worked out. Haldeman shows the Stileman Clinics as concentrating “immortal” derived wealth in their ends for social reform -- one possible solution to the problem of immortals accumulating huge amounts of wealth. Haldeman raises the interesting point that money, in the hands of “immortals” may lead, unlike “ephemeral” financing, to funding of long term projects like space colonization. Haldeman also addresses the problems of immortals cheating on their financial dealings. The Stileman Clinics tacitly ignore legalities so they can have repeat customers.

Haldeman deals with subtler aspects of immortality: the dangers inherent in making a fortune in only one way, the possibilities of multiple careers as protagonist Dallas Barr enjoys, and, most important and subtlest of all is the relationship of the immortals with each other and ephemerals. The immortals, as evidenced by Barr and Maria Marconi, carry on on-and-off relationships over decades. With Ephemerals they sometimes have the creepy realization they are the age of a person’s grandparent and will live on after their death.

There are other pleasures in the book. Haldeman talks of the financial conservatism of the immortals as well as the vision of others, of the complexity of the treatment which limits its application which limits population growth. I liked info maniac Eric Lundley, constant companion and brain-in-the box. The wild “anarchy” of Ceres was reminiscent of the American West. Haldeman writes of violence as a man who has seen it.

Haldeman uses typographical tricks of a limited nature and the “documentary” style of Haldeman’s literary idols John Dos Passos and John Brunner, a style I particularly enjoy and is particularly useful in sf.

The only flaw in this novel is the rather limited detail afforded villain Charles Briskin’s nefarious plans. It was interesting Sir Briskin was an economist with an ill-defined, vaguely explained plan for manipulation of world society. (I liked the wordly Barr not being at all interested in participating in conspiracies and slow to believe he is fighting one.) Briskin uses immortality as a way of ensuring subordinate loyalty. But the end is a bit rushed, and we don’t get much detail on Briskin’s plan. Barr and Marconi close the novel by stating the immortal existence has dimensions yet to be revealed.

I wish Haldeman would have pursed this world in future books. ( )
  RandyStafford | Sep 20, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joe Haldemanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Warren, JimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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From Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award winner Joe Haldeman, the bestselling author of "The Forever War" and "Forever Peace", comes a thrilling sci-fi story that examines a world where time truly is money, and what happens when they both run out. More even than space travel, the Stileman Process has altered twenty-first century life. The most complex of medical miracles, it ensures that every ten years or so, the ailing aging body can be restored to youthful vigour and health. There's a catch, of course: the cost. Every ten years or so you have to come up with Đ1,000,000 minimum to repeat the procedure or die. For Dallas Barr, one of the oldest men on earth, it's that time again. While casting around desperately for his next essential Đ1,000,000, he meets Maria, a woman from - literally - a previous life, and makes two major discoveries. #1: Not all Stileman 'immortals' were born - or created - the same. #2: Someone is trying to kill them. All of them.… (more)

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