October 26th, 2012


Book Review: Losers in Space, by John Barnes

Nine annoying wannabe-celebrity teens stow away on a trip to Mars. Things go wrong. Most of them rise to the occasion.

Losers in Space

Viking, 2012, 432 pages

It is the year 2129 . . . and fame is all that matters

Susan and her friends are celebutantes. Their lives are powered by media awareness, fed by engineered meals, and underscored by cynicism. Everyone has a rating; the more viewers who ID you, the better. So Susan and her almost-boyfriend Derlock cook up a surefire plan: the nine of them will visit a Mars-bound spaceship and stow away. Their survival will be a media sensation, boosting their ratings across the globe.

There’s only one problem: Derlock is a sociopath.

Breakneck narrative, pointed cultural commentary, warm heart, accurate science, a kickass heroine, and a ticking clock . . . who could ask for more?

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Verdict: This is a fantastic book that would have been more fantastic without the author's only semi-successful attempt to lampshade the infodumps. Full of suspense, clever plot twists, humanity, and heartbreak, it is a great read in the spirit of the best Heinlein juveniles, and an example of YA SF occasionally gotten right.

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