May 04, 2003

A Princess of the Aerie by John Barnes

cover of the bookThe first book in Barnes's new series was The Duke of Uranium, and while fun to read, it was pretty fluffy and had a plot that was far from believable. In this second volume, we get a much more Barnesian novel.

The basic outline is still straight out of a Heinlein juvenile: Jak Jinnaka (I have yet to settle on a pronunciation for that) has to come up with a project for school that will force him to learn Ethnography. He gets a mysterious summons from his old girlfriend, now Princess, Shyf, and he's off on a new adventure with his pal Dujuv.

While the structure is the same as in the first book, the protagonists are more in control this time out, and less shuffled around by the whim of their adversaries (who are in turn shuffled around by the whim of the Author) The setting gets more screen time in this book as well, in fact it's kind of fun watching Barnes find creative ways of plausibly inserting huge infodumps in a mostly dialogue-driven novel. The culture is built around something called The Wager. I haven't quite figured out what The Wager is, but it seems to be a mix of economics, religion, politics, and cheesy self-help book described by a bunch of one-liner Principles penned by someone named Paj Nakasen. There are at least a couple hundred of these principles and there's a dozen or so scattered through each of the books. No one seems to have collected them on the web yet (at least google can't find them), so I started a page to do it.

Anyway, fun, thoughtful SF adventure.

Posted by jeffy at May 4, 2003 10:07 PM
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