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One for the Morning Glory
John Barnes
Tor Books, 320 pages

One for the Morning Glory
John Barnes
John Barnes was born in 1957. He received his BA and MA in political science from Washington University, then worked as a systems analyst and in various kinds of computer consulting, mostly reliability math and human interfaces. He received a dual Master's degree (MFA English (Writing), MA Theatre (Directing) from the University of Montana in 1988. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh (Theatre Arts) in 1995; his specialties were performance semiotics and design/tech. From 1994 to 2001 he taught theatre, rhetoric, and communications at Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado. He now lives in downtown Denver, writing and consulting fulltime; he may be the only paid consulting semiotician in the world, since he has not met or heard of any others. He has been married and divorced twice, which is quite enough for anybody.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Finity
SF Site Review: Finity
SF Site Review: Apostrophes & Apocalypses

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Donna McMahon

When John Barnes writes a good book, it is tops (for instance, I highly recommend Orbital Resonance). However, I almost stopped reading Barnes because he is also very prolific and wildly inconsistent. He has written a lot of pointless and extremely gory novels, but this humorous fantasy is a refreshing, delightful change.

Did you enjoy the whimsical humour of T. H. White's The Sword in the Stone? Well, this is the book for you. It is the story of young prince Amatus, who accidentally swallowed the Wine of the Gods as a child and had the entire left side of his body vanish. Not long thereafter, four mysterious strangers appeared and took up positions in the court -- as the Royal Alchemist, Royal Witch, Royal Nurse, and Captain of the Guard. By this time, the whole Kingdom knows that a Story is unfolding, and indeed grand adventures and sweeping events take place.

I usually avoid fantasy so I expected to put this book down after a few chapters, but Barnes' clever humour kept me reading. Also, although much of the plot is absurd, Barnes managed to make the characters so compelling that the reader becomes very involved. This is a book which could be read and enjoyed by children (although a few of the scenes are a bit more violent than I cared for) but it is definitely an adult novel -- well written, tightly plotted and intelligent.

Copyright © 2002 Donna McMahon

Donna McMahon discovered science fiction in high school and fandom in 1977, and never recovered. Dance of Knives, her first novel, was published by Tor in May, 2001, and her book reviews won an Aurora Award the same month. She likes to review books first as a reader (Was this a Good Read? Did I get my money's worth?) and second as a writer (What makes this book succeed/fail as a genre novel?). You can visit her website at

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