February 24, 2003

The Duke of Uranium, by John Barnes

This book takes place in the 36th century. Mankind has colonized the entire solar system; the vast bulk of humanity lives not on Earth, but in two massive orbital habitats, the Hive and the Aerie, which occupy the L4 and L5 positions 120 degrees before and after Earth in its orbit. Our hero, Jak Jannika, is a somewhat shallow, callow, and feckless youth who has just graduated from the equivalent of high school. When his girlfriend is kidnapped at a nightclub, he is sent by his Uncle the social engineer to go rescue her. Which all sounds somewhat romantic, but it isn't really.

It's hard to know what to make of this book. The cover touts it as a mixture of Robert A. Heinlein and Harry Harrison, with some justice; in some ways it also appears to be a spoof of Iain M. Banks' "Culture" series. The science is tolerably hard (or at least pretends to be), while the tone ranges from deadly seriousness to cartoon lunacy. The two extremes don't fit together very well.

But it was not a bad read, and more enjoyable than I feared it might be.

Posted by Will Duquette at February 24, 2003 04:37 PM