Top critical review
Getting better, but...
on August 20, 1999
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.