Finity, Dorsai!

Word count: 711

I read Finity to give John Barnes (of A Million Open Doors fame) a second chance. He hasn’t won me over.

Finity is in the first person past tense, which is always a strike against a story for me. As in most first-person stories, the protagonist never quite gels as a character for me. He has plenty of unpleasant experiences but nothing transformative. At the end of the novel he realizes that he’s just a dull guy who wants to stay home.

But good characterization just gets you insults in this field, so I’ll move on to the science. This is a multiple/parallel universe novel with a twist - some American expatriates are trying to phone home and nobody’s picking up the line. This is where I began to suspect John Barnes of being Australian, since the hero was from New Zealand and, as I told the Mad Chatters, the entire population of the United States was in the cornfield. The ideas here were interesting, but the characters didn’t go particularly deeply into the histories or the science behind them.

The question of where the US went is neither resolved nor left unresolved. Overall, there’s a lot of material here that fits together in that loose, Golden Age way that you’d think people would be over by now.

And speaking of the Golden Age, I read a classic of military sci-fi, Dorsai! by Gordon R. Dickson, previously mentioned in the context of Wolfling.
I was more interested to see the same eugenic theme to the story than to see what’s now an antique example of the art of military sci-fi.

Nevertheless, the text is clean and light and the resolution neat, though I’m tempted to say it wasn’t foreshadowed enough. The theme, I’ll guess, is the inevitability of both social and individual actions - social for the military side, and individual for the eugenics.

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