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A Princess of the Aerie (Jak Jinnaka) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2003
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Amiable thirty-sixth-century teen spy Jak Jinnaka hops to it when ex-girlfriend Sesh, now Princess Shyf of Greenworld, beseeches him to come help her with a few hazily described problems. Recruiting his friend Dujuv Gonzawara and Duj's just-ex-girlfriend, Jak decamps for Greenworld, where the three are dismayed to find Shyf a cruel, disdainful ruler. Pulled into a sexual and political snarl, Jak grasps harsh reality when he realizes his world supports Shyf, even when her drive for power includes murdering her father. Fortunately, when Jak reunites with his formidable alien friend, Shadow on the Frost, fierce combat follows, leading to the friends' violent expulsion to Mercury, where Jak stumbles into another deadly struggle. In this satisfying sequel to The Duke of Uranium [BKL S 1 02], Jak has to comprehend and value different cultures and races, gets in situations in which even the best action casts a bad light on him, and sees friendships suffer when he follows his conscience. Dialogue and characters remain riveting, and Barnes injects a little libertarianism to mull over. Roberta Johnson
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... politics, the media's thirst for a story and the importance of having sex as often as possible ... Jak's back! -- Sue Davies, SF Crowsnest, 3 July 2003
... serious worldbuilding as background here, but picaresque adventure dominates, for a fun, fast-paced SF romp through some intriguing worlds. -- Carolyn Cushman, Locus, January 2003
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In this novel, Jak and Dujuv have pulled another incredibly ignorant stunt, so they have been called to the Dean's office for a chewing out. Since this is a familiar procedure, neither one is too worried, but the Dean makes a special effort this time to understand Jak's reasoning for taping the Venerian Joy Day orgy and selling the tape to his fellow students. Even though the students are now impressed by the Venerians, the Venerians are spitting mad. Treaty negotiations between the Hive and Venus have not gone well since the tape distribution was discovered.
The Dean observes that Jak compulsively ignores any directions given to him and just ad libs everything. The Dean believes that Jak needs to develop some discrimination about following or not following directions. Also, the Dean believes that Jak needs to absorb a great deal of ethnographic information or he might well end up with a war named after him. To accomplish these goals, the Dean requires Jak to repeat Solar System Ethnography until he earns top rank in the class and to then do the same in Advanced Ethnography. Moreover, Jak must submit a proposal for a Junior Task in which the directions are vague, the goals are unclear, and the situation requires interaction with non-Hive personnel with different goals. Dujuv's Junior Task is to assist and protect him.
After discussing the stupidity of the assignment with Dujuv, Jak returns to his quarters to find a message from Princess Shyf waiting for him on his purse. She asks for Jak, Dujuv, and Dujuv's former demmy Myx to come to Greenworld for an unspecified but confidential task. She has made reservations for them on the Hive battlesphere Up Yours and has requested CUPV duties for them so they will have something to do while traveling. She suggests that he show the message to his Uncle Sib, which Jak does. After some discussion, Jak decides to go and his friends also agree to go along.
After they reach Greenworld, they are told that the message is a hoax. However, Jak and Dujuv are offered an opportunity to sign up for the Royal Palace Guard and only later do they learn that the RPG is a stud service for the princess. Of course, they are quite willing to participate after the conditioning takes hold.
Once again, Jak displays his almost total ignorance of the real world and his elders are not giving him much guidance. He hasn't got a clue as to the situation, but one shock after another manages to bypass his aversion to learning and strike at his primitive survival instincts. By the end of the story, Jak actually appreciates the ethnographic info he has been studying. Pain has a way of facilitating learning and he gets a lot of pain -- physical, mental, and emotional -- in this story.
I was beginning to think that Jak is an anti-hero, providing lessons by counter-example, and that he was going to get maimed or killed before learning to tie his shoes, so to speak. While having a lot to learn, Jak may be finally giving in to the universal conspiracy to teach him things he doesn't want to learn. However, don't expect too much in the sequel; Jak could easily revert to his default setting: sweathog.
I still can't decide if I really like this series or not, but I am definitely going to read the sequel. It is almost like witnessing a gory accident; one cannot just pass by without looking.
Recommended for Barnes fans and anyone else who enjoys reading about a young dolt consistently shooting himself in the foot by opening his mouth, yet instinctively doing the right thing to get out of trouble.
In this latest outing, Jak and his good pal Dujuv get shanghaied, more or less, by an erstwhile friend of theirs and end up dropping in on Mercury to bust up an evil cartel. The requisite amount of sex, kung fu fighting, and intrigue follows.
This is an okay series. It's set about 1500 years or so in the future and has a bit of a hard science edge. (Folks aren't whipping throughout the galaxy on hyperspace drives, and humanity still hasn't clawed its way out of the solar system, or at least not on a regular basis.) We now have alien neighbors camped out on Pluto as a result of a nasty interstellar war in which the Rubahy shipped into the outer reaches of our neighborhood and started bombarding the inner planets with small rocks going along at a hefty percentage of lightspeed. This went on for fifty years or so, until we finally punted a doomsday device into their nearby system and whipped their sun into a nova. Whereupon the previously hidden Galactics descended upon both sides and rebuked everyone jointly for genocide. They'll reach a decision in a coupla hundred years on which race to exterminate.
In the meantime, life goes on, and between the settled inner planets and the two major orbital clusters, the Hive and the Aerie, there are enough competing interests to provide for continual jockeying for position, although the people of Jak's time abide by the Wager and Nakasen's Principles, and these keep them from nuking each other in fits of pique. (The odd assassination or "accident" here and there is acceptable.)
Fairly good stuff, although in some respects Jak is more of a bystander in this book and Duj gets the bulk of the character development. The third installment is already out and features much greater growth on Jak's part. So far, this series is a weird balance of action, post-modern heroics, libertarian musings, crypto-cabals, and amoral politics. It bears watching.
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A couple years after Duke of Uranium frat boy archetype Jak Jinnaka is happily ensconced at the Public Service Academy causing trouble...Read more