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Fool's War Mass Market Paperback – 30 Apr 1997

4.1 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books (30 April 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446602930
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446602938
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 2.5 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 955,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Synopsis

Transporting a freight of information between two human colonies in the far-flung reaches of the universe, Katmer Al-Shei is accused of smuggling artificial intelligence, and stumbles upon a nest of conspiracies.

From the Publisher

A "Recommended Novel" for 1997
Locus Magazine (the Publisher's Weekly of the SF/fantasy world) has just named FOOL'S WAR to its 1997 Recommended Reading list.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 27 July 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have been reading Science Fiction since I was 11, am now 49 and a trained scientist (for whatever that means). I finished Fool's War several weeks ago, and looking back it was one of the more enjoyable science fiction books I have read recently. I usually only read three or four a year now....having read all of the classic stuff. Usually I just catch the Hugo award winners and nominees or ones receiving great reviews. I thought the characters were interesting but more important the premise, the concept of the Fools, the development of an alternative cyber universe was well done. Tthis book is linked to the tradition of fun to read science fiction that moves quickly....Issac Assimov's style. Having Moslem characters, was an interesting part of the book. Too often the main characters are cut of the same cloth...handsome men and compliant blond women. So..if you like accessible science fiction, read this book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Fool's War" was Sarah Zettel's second published novel and is one of the best and most original books that a sci-fi author of either sex has written in the last decade.

One of the principal characters in the book is a muslim woman. If you have little or no personal experience of professional muslims and think of them in terms of steroetypes, you may have some difficulty with this book. And if you also have a stereotypical idea of how women write - this point goes for males and females alike - and start projecting your own gender preconceptions onto this book, you may get funny ideas about it.

Judging Sarah Zettel as a writer and not as a woman writer, and speaking as someone with a reasonable number of male and female Muslim friends and colleagues, most of whom are devout but not fundamentalists, I found the book excellent and the Muslim characters perfectly plausible.

The book is set five hundred years in the future, at a time when humans have spread to many stars. One of the greatest dangers to spaceships, habitats and terraformed colonies is that sentient and independent intelligences can develop in their computer systems.

Starship captain Katmer Al Shei is trying to recruit new crew members for her ship the "Pasadena" and signs on Evelyn Dobbs as the ship's professional fool. The cover role for the Fool's Guild members on starships is that their jokes help starship crew stay sane in space.

Although they do perform this role, the members of the Fool's guild are much stranger and more important than they appear and have a vital secret purpose. Soon after Evelyn Dobbs signs on to the Pasadena she has to try to avert a war which could destroy worlds - and meanwhile everyone on the ship is in danger.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters are well-developed, the story line is original, there is plenty of fast-paced action, the ending is good - there are no loose ends. It is well-written. This is one of the best sci-fi AI-focused books I have read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
There are three stories interwoven in Sarah Zettel's readable space opera. There is Captain Katmer Al Shei and the truly diverse crew of her starship, the Pasadena. The interacting personalities and backstories alone would make a better-than-average book. There is also the ominous, driving plot of an impending war between humans and self-aware artificial intelligences. And there is Evelyn Dobbs, the Pasadena's "Ship's Fool"--a cross between a court jester and a savvy ship's counselor. Dobbs' relationship with the Fool's Guild she belongs to is complex and an interesting puzzle-solving exercise for the reader. Good stories, all three.

The real value of the book is its imaginative portrayal of artificial intelligences, some of which "go rogue" and head off into the connected universe with their own agendas. They have different, believable and fascinating personalities. The effects of the processors they run on, the bandwidth they travel through, and other aspects of their experiences are convincingly portrayed. Readers are left with a feel for why such intelligences have priorities and goals than human beings cannot easily understand.

This book is recommended for fans of space opera, artificial intelligence and of a good, hint-driven mystery in an unconventional setting. It is a worthy addition to your bookshelf or to the electronic reading device of your choice.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I don't usually read hard sci-fi, and I'm assuming this was in that category. It was a bit technical, at least to this humble reader, and didn't really--really--capture me until about the middle of the book. It's not until this point, when long-held secrets begin to be revealed, and the pieces of the puzzle finally begin to come together, that the book really picks up for me. From then on, I must admit, I found it hard to put down, though I still felt a bit lost in the "network."
The history of the Fool's Guild was quite interesting, as well as the various AIs met during the course of the book. When it comes right down to it, the AIs, though I'm sure some of them would be loath to admit it, aren't much different from the humans, in terms of what motivates them anyway.
All in all, I'm definitely NOT sorry I read this book. It was chock full of interesting, non-typical, and non-stereotypical characters--especially Al Shei, the engineer; Yerusha, the pilot; and Dobbs, the fool; but on the same token, the male characters were quite underdeveloped and hard to distinguish from the other males.
Also, the book could have done without the "crushes" touched upon towards the end. These seemed to be hastily "thrown in" and added nothing whatsoever to the story.
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