February 26, 2003

A Princess of the Aerie, by John Barnes

This is the sequel to The Duke of Uranium, which I reviewed a couple of days ago. Jak Jannika travels with his buddies to the habitat of Greenwood in the Aerie, where his former girlfriend is a princess. He's going because she sent him a secret message asking him to come and "do something for her", and to fulfill the requirement for his Junior Project at the Public Service Academy. The action takes him as far as the mines of Mercury.

The book has much the same strengths and flaws as its predecessor, but there was more about it to dislike. In particular, parts of it combine some really ugly sexual domination with a really cynical take on relationships that I found unpleasant. It wasn't gratuitous, I'll give Barnes that--he was establishing that a particular character is a sociopathic bitch, and by the time he was done I believed him. But it was unpleasant, never the less, and I could have done without it.

There are clearly more books to come; I'll probably buy the next one. But unless there's a clear improvement I may not go any farther than that.

Posted by Will Duquette at February 26, 2003 05:53 PM