source for free and $1 books


Powered by FreeFind

Site search
Web search

    Review of HOMEWARD BOUND by Harry Turtledove

    Del Rey, January 2005

    Years before, humans barely staved off complete defeat at the hands of 'the Race,' an alien civilization that had decided to make Earth its next colony. In the years since then, humans had been stealing technology, innovating as quickly as they could, and generally trying to catch up with the tremendous technological advantages the Race held. Now, they are finally ready. The United States sends its first interstellar ship to the Race's native planet--Home.

    The relatively stagnant civilization of the Race doesn't know how to deal with the humans. Humans change so quickly, they could sign a treaty now, then decide to go back on it when they gained a military advantage. Perhaps striking immediately, turning Earth into a vast radioactive wasteland, is the only option. Danger mounts when the Race's scientists learn that humans have been discovering new paths in physics. If they are ever to strike, they need to do so immediately.

    To prevent disaster, the United States has Sam Yeager, his son and daughter-in-law, and a small group of diplomats and scientists--sent in suspended animation at sublight speeds. Sam tries to explain that the United States wants peace--and to be recognized as an equal. But the Race knows human history--and how easily treaties can be ignored and rewritten once power shifts. While it too is desperate for peace, its Emperor and its leaders wonder if the long-term peace it would achieve would be that of defeat.

    Author Harry Turtledove (see more reviews of novels by Turtledove) uses his novel to ask questions and posit answers that are frighteningly relevant in today's world where the United States is the stumbling giant and where it wonders how long it can remain supreme. His overall message is one of cautious hope--and a warning against the type of arrogant superiority that too many politicians and military leaders claim.

    Unfortunately, Turtledove's strong message and fascinating world-building are weakened by clunky and repetitive dialogue and by the lack of a story goal that really motivates action. Because Sam's goal is peace, and because the enemies of peace can't really be isolated and dealt with, HOMEWARD BOUND lacks a strong story drive. Interesting secondary characters like Race-raised human Kassquit and spaceship pilot Glenn Johnson don't really play into the main story goal and end up losing much of the impact they could get.

    Although HOMEWARD BOUND is thematically strong and sends a message I think lots of Americans (and others) would do well to heed, the clunky writing makes it hard to recommend this novel.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 2/05/05

    Ready to buy it? Click the button:

    Want to learn more?
    Click this link and see more reviews, similar books, and other Amazon information on HOMEWARD BOUND from

    Rather buy it from Barnes and Noble?
    Click this link for HOMEWARD BOUND from Barnes and

    Buy the eBook at

    Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.