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John Barnes
Tor Books, 304 pages

Art: Chopping Block Finity
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: Apostrophes & Apocalypses

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Peter D. Tillman

Lyle Peripart is reasonably content with his quiet life as an expatriate American academic in New Zealand, a pleasant backwater in a world ruled by the Twelve Reichs. Until he accepts a plum job offer from billionaire industrialist Iphwin -- and he's roughed up by the Gestapo in Surabaya, shot at in Saigon, and comes home to a smoking crater where his house used to be. Then things get really weird...

Experienced SF readers will have little doubt as to what's happening -- the Many Worlds hypothesis has been a fertile SF breeding-ground for quite some time -- but, as always, the genius is in the details. In Finity we get such goodies as robot taxicabs with easily-hurt feelings, private suborbital jump-boats (but no automobiles) for the middle-class, and a neat new quantum-computing rationale for Many Worlds slippage. Not to mention -- finally! -- an explanation for all those 1- or 2-ring phantom phone calls I get.

What we don't get is a particularly consistent or well-thought-out plot or backstory 1. I didn't have any problems suspending disbelief while reading Finity -- a matter of 3 or 4 hours -- but if you're a critical reader, this one may not be for you. If you're looking for a light, fast, read-once entertainment -- as I was -- Finity will fill the bill nicely.

Barnes dedicates Finity to a reader who asked, "Just once, would it kill you to write an adventure story, with a reasonably happy ending, and only a little weird?"

1 There's a batch of Finity-gripes at Amazon, where it drew a pretty critical set of readers' comments. I don't recommend reading them just before you read the book, as spoilers abound.

Copyright © 2000 by Peter D. Tillman

Pete Tillman has been reading SF for better than 40 years now. He reviews SF -- and other books -- for Usenet, "Under the Covers", Infinity-Plus, Dark Planet, and SF Site. He's a mineral exploration geologist based in Arizona. More of his reviews are posted at .

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