February 06, 2005

Gaudeamus by John Barnes

flying saucer and alien with ray gunI don't think I've ever read a novel that was written in first person from the author's point of view. Most of the action consists of events as told to Mr. Barnes by Travis Bismarck, a private investigator working on what at first appears to be a simple case of industrial espionage. As the story unfolds it becomes clear that there is much more going on including breakthroughs in neuropharmacology, transportation, and power generation, plus alien first contact.

That doesn't give away much more than the cover art does. Barnes is great when he's writing adventure stories with intrigue like this. Well, I think he's always great, but this book lacks the darker element that I've seen frequently derided in his other books, particularly Mother of Storms and Kaleidoscope Century. If I weren't paying attention I might have thought this was a Spider Robinson book since it shares some of the weaknesses of Spider's work, in particular a need to devise incredibly outlandish scenarios in order to write an optimistic near-future story. That whole "getting psychic to save the world" thing. Barnes does truly entertaining things in this book and, as usual, writes about them with panache. It's a fun, silly little book.

Posted by jeffy at February 6, 2005 02:24 PM