Tag Archives: John Barnes

John Barnes – Classic Heinlein Science Fiction

I’ve been talking up a book called Directive 51, and it’s sequel, a post-apocalypse novel, with eerie links to what’s going on now in some areas. Anyway, It was by John Barnes. I had never read him before (he’s SF), and found the book in the uncatalogued section of the library where they shove a few romance, mystery and SF PBs. They do shelve some. Another one of his I found later on the shelf in PB form. Apparently Directive 51 didn’t rate enough to make it to cataloguing or they no longer do any PBs. I read the second novel in the series and was in love. Then I read The Return by Buzz Aldrin and JB. Great story. Next it’s A Million Open Doors, a novel of the Thousand Cultures, which I am almost through. I discovered, after reading all of them, and ascribing what I found to various other things, that his books are very warm-hearted, and cozy. They make you believe in people, in hope. That people are basically good, a few bad apples, and that companions, and comaraderie are an important part of a satisfying life. I have a few more in the stack, and will be reading as many as I can find. I find him a sort of SF Nevil Shute, whose belief in humanity simply poured through his novels. I wish I had “discovered” him many years ago..

Found two more books in the Thousand Cultures series (A MIllion Open Doors), so I will be happy. I figured out, as I finished that book, that what he does is take a group of people, disparate, but basically good, most of them, and take them on a voyage of self-discovery through various ingenious means, and sends them out at the end, new and improved versions, stronger and more understanding of the world and people. In this last one, he never really explained how the culture in which the hero lived worked, but did describe the new culture, but on the hero’s terms, through his eyes and conversations – we discovered how it worked as he did. Then when he went home, (and that’s another story), he saw what made up his culture, and why it was there, and what it gave to others or not. He never tells you things directly, but leads you on a voyage of discovery along with the characters. In the Daybreak series, you had to learn how to adapt, how it happened, why, etc., the same as everyone else. No cheating. The major reviewers kept comparing him to Heinlein. Classic SF, done right. I have no trouble recommending him to anyone who likes SF at all, and even though this one was hard to understand at first, you still “get it.” So far the ones I’ve read start off slowly, since you are working your way through understanding of everything and the world-building, etc. Then suddenly it creeps up on you and it hugs you back.


Review: Daybreak Zero

Daybreak Zero
Daybreak Zero by John Barnes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the sequel to Directive 51, and I think it was even better than the first. It built on the foundation of what happened in the first book, and the people that were the main characters, and delves into why and how it might have happened, adding some twists and turns in that area, and brought the two factions to the brink of war, with other influences and dangers creeping in, such as the castles, and the outsiders. Pueblo remained the center of action, and this one was scarier, a little torture, a little spookier, and a real study into how people might work, function, and use their strengths, ad to what ends some will go to get or continue in power, and others will withstand the pull, and stand by their principles, even if they have different results. It’s grittier, larger, and I still want more. You don’t ned zombies to make it a scary world. You just need a bunch of people who are ingrained and indoctrinated with a meme. This one is still like the first, full of details on governments, how they function, and on strategies, and how large scale problems may be solved, like the mysterious EMP pulses that attack whenever a strong radio signal is sent out. Who is ending them and from where? The characters are the strong part, real people, with real ideals, and real weak points. But yet is uplifting, in a Postman sort of way, with the idea that hope, or the belief that the world is working again, albeit differently is all that is needed to jump start regular people into doing things, and that from such small starts, come bigger results.

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