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Losers in Space Hardcover – April 12, 2012
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100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
Amazon's editors chose their list of the one hundred young adult books to read, whether you're fourteen or forty...Learn more
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About the Author
More About the Author
For readers who are wondering where to start with my work, the most common suggestions are Orbital Resonance, A Million Open Doors, Mother of Storms, Encounter with Tiber, or Tales of the Madman Underground. However, almost no one likes all five of those books--I write a wider range than most people read--so you might want to flip a few pages before buying. My most popular have been Directive 51, Mother of Storms, and the two collaborations with Buzz Aldrin. My 3 most popular series begin with A Million Open Doors, Directive 51, and Patton's Spaceship. Nearest my heart are probably One for the Morning Glory, Tales of the Madman Underground, and The Sky So Big and Black. And the most fun was had in writing Gaudeamus, Payback City, and Raise The Gipper!
I used to teach in the Communication and Theatre program at Western State College. I got my PhD at Pitt in the early 90s, masters degrees at U of Montana in the mid 80s, bachelors at Washington University in the 70s; worked for Middle South Services in New Orleans in the early 80s. For a few years I did paid blogging mostly about the math of marketing analysis at TheCMOSite and All Analytics. More recently, I covered advanced technology, especially space, stories in the Government section of Information Week.
If any of that is familiar to you, then yes, I am THAT John Barnes.
I have also become aware of at least 72 Johns Barneses I am not. Among the more interesting ones I am not:
1. the Jamaican-born British footballer who scored that dramatic goal against Brazil
2. the occasional Marvel bit role who is the grandson of Captain America's sidekick
3. the Vietnam-era Medal of Honor winner
4&5. the lead singer for the Platters (and neither he nor I is the lead singer for the Nightcrawlers)
6.the Australian rules footballer
7. the former Red Sox pitcher
8. the Tory MP
9. the expert on Ada programming
10&11. the Cleveland-area member of the Ohio House of Representatives (though we're almost the same age and both grew up in northern Ohio) who is also not the former member of the Indiana House that ran for state senate in 2012 (one of them is a Democrat, one a Republican, and I'm a Socialist)
12. the former president of Boise State University
13. the film score composer
14. the longtime editor of The LaTrobe Journal
15. the biographer of Eva Peron
16. the manager of Panther Racing (though he and I share a tendency to come in second)
17. the British diplomat (who is not the Tory MP above)
18. the conservative Catholic cultural commentator (now there's an alliterative job)
19. the authority on Dante
20. the mycologist
21. the author of Marketing Judo (though I have an acute interest in both subjects)
22. the travel writer
23. the author of Titmice of the British Isles (originally published as Greater and Lesser Tits of England and Ireland, a title which I envy)
24. the guy who does some form of massage healing, mind/body stuff that I don't really understand at all
25. the corp-comm guy for BP (though I've taught and consulted on corp-comm)
26. the film historian,
27. the Pittsburgh-area gay rights activist (though we used to get each others' mail)
28. the guy who skipped Missoula, Montana, leaving behind a pile of bad checks, just before I moved there
29. the policeman in Gunnison, Colorado, the smallest town I've ever lived in, though he busted some of my students and I taught some of his arrestees
30. the wildlife cinematographer who made Love and Death on the Veldt and shot some of the Disney True Life Adventures ("Hortense the Presybterian Wombat" and the like) or
31. that guy that Ma said was my father.
And despite perennial confusion by some science fiction fans and readers, I'm not Steve Barnes and he's not me, and we are definitely not related, though we enjoy seeing each other and occasionally corresponding (not often enough).
I used to think I was the only paid consulting statistical semiotician for business and industry in the world, but I now know four of them, and can find websites for about ten more. Statistical semiotics is about the ways in which the characteristics of a population of signs come to constitute signs themselves. It has applications in marketing, poll analysis, and annoying the literary theorists who want to keep semiotics all to themselves and spend their time studying individual signs and the processes around them in very deep detail. It also shouldn't be confused with computational semiotics, which was about how software could parse complex signs to communicate with humans and other software. Just to make it a bit more confusing, both statistical and computational semiotics are being gradually subsumed into natural language processing, which in turn seems to be being absorbed into data science. Someday all universities will just have a Department of Stuff and that's what everyone will major in.
Semiotics is pretty much what Louis Armstrong said about jazz, except jazz paid a lot better for him than semiotics does for me. If you're trying to place me in the semiosphere, I am a Peircean (the sign is three parts, ), a Lotmanian (art, culture, and mind are all populations of those tripartite signs) and a statistician (the mathematical structures and forms that can be found within those populations of signs are the source of meaning). Recently I've begun working on a certificate in Data Science for pretty much the same reason that the Scarecrow needed a diploma and the Lion needed a medal.
I have been married three times, and divorced twice, and I believe that's quite enough in both categories. I'm a hobby cook, sometime theatre artist, and still going through the motions after many years in martial arts.
Top Customer Reviews
This is a superbly done bildungsroman that does not shy away from serious political questions that are deep in the territory of adventure, nor does it avoid some of the serious questions about what growing up quickly is like or what being forced to be competent or self-reliant are like. All of this is reminiscent of a Heinleinian YA novel, but these are not Heinlein's "competent men" but slackers forced to rise to their level of competence by forces they cannot control. Barnes's argument is the very unheinleinian one that we are social beings who are capable of responding as social beings to disaster, and becoming better for it and from it.
As the young protagonists (and their unexpected companion, Fwuffy, a nicely done plot twist) develop into mature beings before our eyes we learn a great deal about them and their society. We're also given a plausible set of suggestions about human-based space exploration in the next couple of centuries. Altogether, a well-told tale, with Barnes's usual attempts to hint at future slang.Read more ›
Then the characters where introduced. Narrator Susan once wanted to be a scientist, until she realized that fame is the most important thing. Now that's true in the LOSERS IN SPACE world, where a YouTube-like version of reality TV is the easiest avenue of work in a world where most work is valued at nothing. If you want any power over your life, you need to have a salable story. But, true though it might be, I don't want to read about a smart girl who dumbs herself down to be a celebutante. And all her friends seemed to deserve their title as losers.
John Barnes, I apologize for doubting you. I absolutely love this book and regret that I wasted time that I could have used reading it. Please know that I only ever doubted you because I love your work.
Novels like LOSERS IN SPACE don't come around that often. It exemplifies the great possibilities that lie within the young adult genre. At it's heart, LOSERS IN SPACE is driven by the characters. The losers decide to stowaway aboard a ship to Mars in order to gain fame. When things go catastrophically wrong, they must somehow survive alone in space for months. Some of the losers rise to the occasion. Some rise and fall.Read more ›
He writes really cool stuff. And I can see why he likes this book so much.
*** SPOLER ALERT ***
I a bit ashamed to admit I got choked up at the end when they were unexpectedly rescued. I felt sappy like watch the end of a chick flick and tearing up even when you can see the ending coming from 10 minutes into the movie. While the resucre did not surprise, the timing and manner did and Barnes played the heart strings on it really well.
Losers in Space has a pretty tight plot. You won't be constantly shaking your head at plot holes (yes, I'm looking at you Ms. Rowling). The characters are engaging. The set up works. The pace is steady and flows. The SciFi is interesting and at the same time doesn't get in the way of the story. Probably the best aspect of this book, however, are the insights into human nature and society. Well done.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This has been the first "hard SF" book I've read, and I loved it! I appreciated the way the author breaks out the real technical explanations from the story and puts them... Read morePublished on November 10, 2013 by Jen
It's a couple of hundred years in the future and mankind has created a society free from want. Everyone is rich, no one is hungry or without shelter. What's the catch? Read morePublished on November 7, 2013 by Dana Stabenow
Minor details in this review refer to specifics in the book. I do not think they will ruin the read for anyone. Read morePublished on June 16, 2013 by JC
Losers in Space (2013) is a standalone SF novel. It starts more than a century from now in the Oregon/Utah District and concludes over a decade later. Read morePublished on March 16, 2013 by Arthur W Jordin
Losers in Space by John Barnes was terrible. Not only were the facts completely unrealistic (though they claimed to be understandable because it was "in the future", but there are... Read morePublished on October 8, 2012 by AskingAlexandria
Writing reviews for novels that do not receive 3 or more trees is a very difficult task for me. As each novel is carefully crafted by an energy that an author has, willing them to... Read morePublished on September 23, 2012 by A Leisure Moment
Hardcover copy of this book that comes with whatever advertising not to mention the fact that there is an actual object in your hands, namely the book, that costs $11.98. Read morePublished on June 23, 2012 by Richard P. Darby
I expected more exploration of this world. Instead it's a pretty straight forward adventure tale. Barnes is my favorite author but there wasn't enough character arc for me to get... Read morePublished on June 15, 2012 by Adam Dever
Loved the title.
Loved the story.
Loved the characters.
Loved the interaction that the author has with the readers. Read more