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5.0 out of 5 stars Where it all started...
I just happened to read the book that follows this one, so for me, to read this book was to go backards in time, to see how Giraut and Margaret first met, to see his home world and her home world first hand, to see the merits and flaws of both characters and cultures and maybe gain more understanding of the universe John Barnes has designed. The book brings out the...
Published on March 21 2004 by Michael Valdivielso

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3.0 out of 5 stars What's All the Hubbubb, Bub?
Even though the book is a fair read, good for a rainy weekend, or putting one to sleep of a night, I don't find it the award winning fair that so many critics' opinions say it is.
If you like a bunch of dandies waltzing about, drinking and wenching, then having the hero throwing himself into an altogether stange, socialistic society in the aftermath of a romantic...
Published on Oct. 30 2003 by GRIZZLY


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5.0 out of 5 stars Where it all started..., March 21 2004
This review is from: A Million Open Doors (Mass Market Paperback)
I just happened to read the book that follows this one, so for me, to read this book was to go backards in time, to see how Giraut and Margaret first met, to see his home world and her home world first hand, to see the merits and flaws of both characters and cultures and maybe gain more understanding of the universe John Barnes has designed. The book brings out the wonder and fear of contact, not between alien races, but human cultures. While the novel was published in 1992, it is very much a valid warning for today's readers. The world is much smaller than before, we can't stop that, but maybe we can limit the damage to ourselves, to our culture and to our souls.
As for the story, once again, it was a wonderful ride. Seeming to go one way, it jerks off the rails and goes another, as if the very characters and the world in which Mr. Barnes has created had a life of its own. A surprise ending, yes, but also a realistic and even sad one.
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3.0 out of 5 stars What's All the Hubbubb, Bub?, Oct. 30 2003
By 
GRIZZLY "Grizzly" (Yuma, Arizona United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Million Open Doors (Hardcover)
Even though the book is a fair read, good for a rainy weekend, or putting one to sleep of a night, I don't find it the award winning fair that so many critics' opinions say it is.
If you like a bunch of dandies waltzing about, drinking and wenching, then having the hero throwing himself into an altogether stange, socialistic society in the aftermath of a romantic betayal, this is your book; but I found it lacked enough action to keep the storyline moving, and to hold this reader's attention.
I am waiting to read "Earth Made of Glass", in hope that it is more attention keeping than "A Million Open Doors".
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4.0 out of 5 stars One of Barnes's better efforts, June 2 2003
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This review is from: A Million Open Doors (Mass Market Paperback)
This was the first John Barnes book that I read, and while I agree with other reviewers that it's not perfect, it's an imaginative and enjoyable read, with enough light touches to let you know not to take it too seriously.
It interested me enough to go on to read several of his other works, most of which I've enjoyed (can't win 'em all).
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Million Open Doors, July 15 2002
By 
not4prophet (North Carolina) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Million Open Doors (Mass Market Paperback)
John Barnes shows some promise in ´¿A Million Open Doors´¿, enough that I would recommend it to a friend. He´¿s assembled a moderately original idea and some likeable characters into an enjoyable book, but there are some big flaws that drag it down, especially towards the end.
The main character, named Giraut, leaves his home and moves to a culture known as the Caledons. Caledon society is a distopia based on the idea of rationality. If a group of computers known as ´¿aintillects´¿ decides that a person is engaged in irrational behavior, such as doing favors for a friend or appreciating the wrong works of art, then they can be dragged off to a mental institution by the government. Upset by this stifling censorship, Giraut decides to open a school and teach dancing and music to some of the Caledon children.
While this concept may sound interesting, Barnes´¿ writing is all over the place. He can´¿t seem to decide whether he wants to be writing a true hard science fiction novel or a parody. Are we really supposed to believe that Giraut could break through generations of conformity and start a revolution just by teaching some kids to play the guitar? Fortunately, he hurries the plot along without giving us too much time to worry about such questions. Also, Barnes is quite skillful at developing his characters. Unlike so many of today´¿s SF writers, he gives them real motivations and allows us to see how their behavior and their thoughts change as they get exposed to new ideas.
However, I would be negligent if I didn´¿t mention some important weaknesses. Barnes´¿ choice of language is pretty bland, and his descriptions don´¿t give you any real sense of what he´¿s trying to illustrate. Also, he needs a decent editor to crack down on sentences such as ´¿Thorwald started, I could see that his career as a blasphemer would be developing slowly; he seemed to be reacting as if what he had said a minute ago was hanging around in the air like old flatulence.´¿ He view of gender roles is still stuck in the 50´¿s; somebody should politely inform him that women are capable of doing more than just having sex and doing secretarial work. And there´¿s this annoying habit of substituting like-sounding futuristic words in place of common English ones. He writes ´¿merce´¿ instead of ´¿mercy´¿, ´¿nop´¿ instead of ´¿nope´¿, etc´¿ Finally, the conclusion is too rushed, as if he was working under a deadline and had to cram too much plot into too little space.
Still, if you can look past these problems,, you can find some decent science fiction in ´¿A Million Open Doors´¿. While it doesn´¿t rank up there with the masters like Heinlein or Clarke, it´¿s still a decent read.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and boring at the same time, April 4 2002
By 
Peter Werner "peterwerner4" (Essingen, Germany) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Million Open Doors (Mass Market Paperback)
Yes, the theme is interesting, the plot is well constructed, the characters are conceivable. But: most of the positive characteristics of this novel are destroyed by long and boring philosophising. I really am not a friend of action and action only, but Barnes reflects too often and too much. And the whole subject of Occitan culture may be interesting for those who know about the old troubadour tradition, but the ordinary reader is certainly confused by it. His characters are believable in this Occitan context, but most of the readers have never come in touch with even the theoretical basis of a society like this. It may be interesting for the expert to discuss the oppositional viewpoints of a fundamental Protestant society with all its hypocrisy and a society that has its basis in artificial codes of honor and dignity. But both are far away from reality. And that is why they do not reflect any social problem in reality. Both should have been opposed to a realistic society of today, of course alienated from the here and now by science fiction settings. This is what science fiction is about. But here this novel discusses some theoretical problems and never arrives in reality. Some critics call Barnes a descendant of Robert Heinlein. Well, if so, he has still a long way to go.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Meeting of Minds, Nov. 12 2000
By 
Pam Hanna "wind star" (Thoreau, New Mexico United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Million Open Doors (Mass Market Paperback)
In its early years, science fiction used to be mostly "nuts and bolts" clearly distinguishing it from "sword and sorcery," but increasingly, we see SF novels that have all but abandoned the hard-science base as a focus. The physics and engineering of space travel, for example, is merely a given; the culture of other planets and species are the focus instead. Thus the "soft" sciences, such as archeology, anthropology and sociology come into play, but these novels are clearly real science fiction.
In this book, two planetary cultures meet. One is terraformed and one is not (but it turns out in an interesting little twist, that both have been terraformed, one anciently, so this segues nicely into the sequel). One is romantic, flamboyant, but violent, while the other is peaceful, but ideologically restrictive. In other words, there is a great deal that is wrong with each culture, but there is also a great deal that is right about each. The coming together of these two cultures and the way both are improved by the contact is the theme of this novel. The parallels between *A Million Open Doors* and Heinlein's *The Moon is a Harsh Mistress* are obvious, but I don't think this author is as heavy-handed and didactic as Heinlein (although the latter is funnier and, it may be argued, more entertaining than Barnes). I am more reminded in this work, because of its subtlety and in-depth psychological observations, of Ursula LeGuin's *The Dispossessed.*
This is the first Barnes novel I've read, and I'm pleased to have discovered him and looking forward to the sequel, *Earth Made of Glass.* A good read.
pamhan99@aol.com
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Million Open Doors, June 9 2000
This review is from: A Million Open Doors (Mass Market Paperback)
I'd recommend to anyone who feels like reading older-feeling hard sci-fi novel that is still modern enough for one to not be embarassed by the author referring to events of the late 20th century that obviously never happened. One review on the actual book cover calls Barnes "one of Heinlein's spiritual descendents" and that review is very accurate. I also saw another review here on Amazon.com that called this a "cultural sci-fi novel." All true. Barnes does something very rare among modern sci-fi writers (that I have seen, I must admit I haven't had time to read a lot recently)...he makes a story based on cultures interesting and truly engrossing.
When I was reading the book I couldn't decide when it was written. It feels like a 50's era sci-fi novel because so much importance is placed on the culture. But then there would be a reference to a technological idea that was obvious very current (such as "growing" buildings using nanomachines). I guess the true beauty of this novel is the refreshing way that technology--while believable and realistic enough--is not the centerpiece, instead it supports and compliments the plot. Very refreshing to read a novel about the integration of technology and culture that doesn't spend time belaboring the internet and information technology.
Finally, a quick plug for Amazon.com. Although I did buy this book at my local Barnes & Nobles store, their Internet site was clueless on John Barnes. Glad to see that Amazon.com has a better selection so I can explore other works by this author. I can't wait to do so (apparently there is now a sequel to "A Million Open Doors").
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4.0 out of 5 stars A "cultural SF" novel, June 2 2000
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This review is from: A Million Open Doors (Mass Market Paperback)
A Million Open Doors is a well-crafted "cultural science fiction" novel in the vein of Jack Vance. The protagonist Giraut is a young epee-wielding "jovent" from Nou Occitan. Jovent culture apparently lies somewhere between that of 18th century aristocracy and that of Alex and his droog buddies in A Clockwork Orange.
Dissatisfied and dishonored, Giraut leaves his world through a "springer" (an instant teleportation device) to become an Ambassador for the Thousand Cultures. The world on which he lands contains two polar cultures: Caledon, where money becomes a holy arbiter of value, and austere St. Michael. Both cultures are deeply religious and theocratic although opposite in just about every other respect.
When the springers come for the first time to each of the Thousand Worlds, a "Connect depression" ensues. Giraut and the other ambassadors are there to help Caledon and St. Michael re-enter interstellar human culture ... but it turns out to be a challenge.
A Million Open Doors doesn't have a well-defined linear plot, per se. At the least, it is a coming-of-age story for Giraut, who grows out of his jovent ways as the story progresses. If you like atmospheric science fiction with interesting scenery and well-developed characters, you should find this book to your liking.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not his best, but still a good book., May 8 2000
This review is from: A Million Open Doors (Mass Market Paperback)
I don't think this is his best book, and I think many of Barnes' fans would agree with me. It simply doesn't have the mind-bending, conviction-chalenging edge that his others do. But, having said that, it is probably a safer first-read as many of the reviews of his other books show that a lot of people can't handle his edgier novels.
It is an enjoyable story hiding a theme of cultural conflict and the characters are well writen. Though not his best, you can't loose on it because if you have read one of his harsaher novels and like him, this is still a good read and you won't be too disapointed, and if it is your first Barnes experience, it is much easier to enjoy superficially than his other books.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Getting better, but..., Aug. 20 1999
By 
flying-monkey (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Million Open Doors (Mass Market Paperback)
I hated the first John Barnes' book I read - 'Kaleidoscope Century'. It was with some trepidation, then, that I picked this out of the bargain bin of my local bookshop.
Luckily this was better, both in terms of writing style and characterisation. The overall metaphorical device is quite neat; it is bascially quite a simple morality tale about the impact of communications and transport technologies on isolated societies. The main contrasting cultures were nicely drawn and fairly believable.
However it suffers from some of the same faults as his earlier work: he still appears to be plundering Heinlein's back-catalogue for ideas (which wouldn't be so bad if Heinlein was actually any good...); he relies too much on the juvenile adventure story to carry the plot along; he is too impressed by sadistic violence; and he seems to regard women with a rather misogynisytic eye.
Still, it is an improvement, and enjoyable enough to ignore some of the faults, and to make me want to see if he has improved still further with the sequal.
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A Million Open Doors
A Million Open Doors by John Barnes (Mass Market Paperback - Nov. 15 1993)
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