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Finity Hardcover – 20 Jan 2000

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (20 Jan. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575068906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575068902
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 3 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,888,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

A skilled SF author who's been publishing novels since 1987, John Barnes seems underrated in the field--perhaps because he is so versatile. His 1990s work included the disaster blockbuster Mother of Storms, the doom-ridden political tragedy Earth Made of Glass, and--the only whimsical fantasy to rival William Goldman's The Princess Bride--Barnes's One for Morning Glory.

Finity could be called his Philip K. Dick novel. Opening in a future where Hitler won and American expats huddle in the remaining free countries like New Zealand, it features several Dick-style chatty machines and what seems to be an increasing breakdown of reality. The hero Lyle Peripart, an "abductive logic" expert, confronts the great mystery of 2062: what happened to the USA, which is vaguely accepted as still existing but can't be visited, can't be phoned, can't even be thought about for long?

Soon Peripart faces assassination, but some of the forces manipulating the world seem to be on his side--his own gentle fiancée saves him by switching mysteriously into an armed secret agent with hair-trigger reflexes, and back again. All the people our hero knows have mutually incompatible pasts ... Answers await within the former USA, whose idealistic Department for the Pursuit of Happiness did something deeply strange to quantum reality: Peripart joins a crazy expedition to learn just what. The ultimate surprises are daft and delightful. This is great fun. --David Langford

Book Description

A gripping alternative future from one of the great ideas men of the genre

Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 Nov. 2002
Format: Paperback
I have only recently discovered John Barnes, but I can say that he is a very talented writer. I had had this book on my shelf for a good while now, and I am glad I finally picked it up to read it. I found this novel very entertaining and "gripping." Granted, the story is disjointed at points, but so is the world that Barnes has created here, one where people "jump" back and forth between dimensions or universes. Some of the characters are quite forgettable, but the narrator and Iphwin stand out from the crowd. Despite this, I would like to have seen more "fleshing out" of Iphwin in the novel; there were aspects about him that lingered in my mind until the end. I expected to get some insight on these traits, but the lines were left dangling somewhat. What I remember most about the narrator is his detailed explanations of and conjectures based on "abductive reasoning." Maybe I have managed to get away from hard science fiction long enough to be impressed by Barnes' elaboration of these ideas, but the fact of the matter is that I was impressed (in a similar way as I am impressed--though somewhat bored--by Jules Verne's prosaic "scientific" tangents). The ending of the story was indeed somewhat anticlimactic. With just a few pages to go, I kept wondering how the author was going to tie everything up into a neat little bow in so short a time. In point of fact, Barnes did the opposite of what I was looking for and resolved very little. In a way, though, it is nice for an author to resist the pressure to achieve balance and full illumination in his writing. All in all, I found this to be a very good novel; before I was halfway through it, in fact, I had already gone out to buy all of Barnes' books that I could find locally. I have read a couple of his other novels since reading Finity, but I found this book to be the most interesting and memorable of the group.
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By A Customer on 18 May 1999
Format: Hardcover
The book starts out strong, with an intriguing series of puzzles about missing memories and a tense, fast-paced plot--which makes the book's second- and third-act fizzles all the more disappointing. Barnes is at his best in this book setting the scene; worthy of note are his descriptions and characterizations of the artifical-intelligence-controlled vehicles. However, the effective characterization ends there. One progresses through the book without meeting a fully developed or even terribly interesting human or seeming-human character; most of the weak stabs at characterization come in descriptions of personality quirks (Ipwhin's fidgeting) or in cliched, simplistic, and occasionally borderline-offensive terms (Ipwhin's characterization of Billie Beard, herself a one-dimensional stereotype). The book bogs down in the middle with excessive dialogue and theory, which become almost irrelevant--why did I have to know this again?--by the time the final "quest" sequence rolls around. Action yields to incomprehensibility and deflation as the book falls apart in an "I give up" ending. Unanswered questions (e.g., How did all those apparently critical people end up in the same chat room for years? Why are certain members of the team even there?) are balanced out by unneeded information (all the details about the Reichs lead to nothing, for example). All in all, a good idea gone awry.
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By A Customer on 17 Jun. 1999
Format: Hardcover
Fans of Barnes' Time Wars series will certainly find this book familiar. The similarities stretch beyond the basic theme of the investigation of multiple worlds, to similarities in the personalities of the lead characters and their relationships. Although this book does develop some rather interesting ideas, such as the notion of abduction (vs. induction or deduction as ways of forming conclusions), the story simply doesn't work. A large part of the problem seems to be that Barnes decided that he would try and force the story into a happy ending. His highly uncharacteristic insistence that the story end well for the main character leaves many loose threads and questions. One of the things that I admire most about Barnes is his honesty--when the story calls for a character to die, he or she does, even if it is rather a likeable character. Although this is true for most of Finity, the ending is a peculiar departure into La La land which left me very annoyed. Another basic problem with this book is the complete lack of likeable characters. By twenty pages in I seriously wanted to poke the main character with a sharp stick, which made it hard to sympathize with him. All in all, not a successful book, and I'd only recommend it to die hard Barnes fans who've already exhausted all his other writing.
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By A Customer on 20 Jan. 2003
Format: Paperback
When I first picked up this novel, I was expecting an interesting read due to the number of positive reviews surrounding it. The first half of the novel does have points of interest as it follows the travels of Lyle Peripart as he attempts to uncover the truth behind a Nazi Germany defeat of the USA during World War Two and why the former USA seems to have simply 'vanished'. Indeed the first half does reverberate with a buzzy energy reminiscient of the Philip K. Dick novel THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE. This promising start simply falls apart with the onset of the second half of the novel in a most atrocious sort of way. The second half seems to consist of nothing but meandering explanations of virtual reality that simply don't appear to make sense and the ending .... well, I won't even bother going there. It was hard enough trying to understand the concept of 'abductive reasoning' in the novel's first half.
I can only hope that any future John Barnes novels will have a much stronger storyline and avoid this novel's nonsensical concepts and ideas.
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