Mindbridge by Joe Haldeman
The About: A group of scientist-soldiers find a creature on their exploratory mission on another planet that offers telepathic skills between two people who are touching it at the same time. The mindbridge, as it will be dubbed, is also extremely lethal--it did cause a heart attack for the first person who touched it, which is the least gory way of it dealing with touchy-feely humans--and the scientists on Earth are willing to test its capabilities. In the quest to find more mindbridges to experiment on, humans stumble upon a community of ruthless aliens that kill without hesitation.
Thoughts: That description sounds pretty actiony, and sure enough--there is plenty of suspense and action in this novel. At the same time it's wonderfully literary, with changing modes of narrative (from a screenplay format to a report card to a psychologist's evaluation) that expose different aspects of the characters without needing to do lengthy flashbacks.
While I was reading the story, we were talking about the book at home. K. said, that like some of Haldeman's other novels, this also exudes his weariness of the horrors he saw in Vietnam during the war. And the more I thought of it and progressed in the story, the more evident this became. The mindbridge is an attempt of humans trying to connect with each other, while still trying to destroy other living beings for no other apparent reason than expanding territory. Or maybe it is not about getting connected but the idea of being the only ones to possess the mindbridge.
Haldeman is tired of the usual reasons for war, and it shows. Without being lecturing and hippy-like, the novel takes an unexpected turn at the end toward a radical idea of living in harmony that for individualistic humans is scary.
I kind of want to reread this already.
6 months ago