My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This 222 page book makes for a quick read and it’s somewhat enjoyable. Otto McGavin, an Anglo-Buddhist, seeks a job with the Confederacion because he believes in its mission to protect human and nonhuman rights. The problems begin there. The Confederacion needs him as one of its 12 Prime Operators for its mega-secret, secret service, the TBII. The TBII wants to use him as a spy and assassin. They carry this out through the use of immersion therapy and hypnotic personality overlay for Otto’s ongoing training, before he’s sent out encased in plastiflesh, his disguise that makes him take on the total appearance of his targets. This book concentrates on three missions on several worlds. However, after every mission, Otto is debriefed and he remembers — indeed, is forced to remember — the murders he committed for the TBII. Ultimately, this breaks him down at the book’s conclusion.
I thought the stories behind the three missions were all interesting and they were quite varied too, so Haldeman got to play with the character. I’m not sure there was enough character development, though, and as it is such a short book, the author could have done more, but it’s still decent enough to make it an interesting read. I sometimes had trouble believing some segments of the episodes, and the final one does get just a bit scattered, but overall, it was pretty decent sci fi. Not my favorite. Not Philip K. Dick. Just a good, fast read for the beach or plane (or at bedtime, in my case). I really think this is a three star book, but I’m optimistically giving it four because I simply enjoyed it. However, cautiously recommended.
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