Professor Lyle Peripart's world makes perfect sense, until he is recruited by an odd industrialist and begins to see evidence of alternative universes all around him, including one in which the United States surrendered to the USSR back in the 1970s.

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I didn't have any problems suspending disbelief while reading Finity -- a matter of 3 or 4 hours -- but if you're a critical reader, this one may not be for you. Barnes dedicates Finity to a reader who asked, "Just once, would it kill you to write an adventure story, with a reasonably happy ending, and only a little weird?"

What follows is a thrilling quest into the empty heart of America, the weirdness of Many Worlds Quantum Mechanics, and what it means to really Pursue Happiness above all else.

Lyle Periparts world is coming apart. Then Lyle was recruited for private industry by the mysterious industrialist Geoffrey Iphwin and everything stopped making sense. We are in a future, we soon realise, where most of the world, including the US, is controlled by Nazi Reichs. It now appears that people are slipping between alternate universes. Iphwin, who turns out to be an AI embodied in flesh, has recruited Lyle, his wife and several others to travel to America to discover what has happened to it. Barnes has also thought out some of the other consequences of meeting people from alternate time lines.

I've read and enjoyed Barnes before, but I don't think I've enjoyed any of his works this much.

Barnes throws a few quirks in the mix; rapid personality changes, memory loss, and those annoying phantom phone rings with no one on the other end.

Before they even have a chance to celebrate, Lyle is attacked by Billie Beard, a female Reich goon. They're both placed under arrest, where Lyle is shocked to find out his attacker was Billie Beard, again -- not the fat German tourist. Helen also claims she saw Lyle get shot in the attack, when he clearly didn't. Iphwin appears and tells them some things about the world(s) in which they live and why odd things are happening to each of them. That explains the hardened battle operative Helen Lyle saw kill Billie Beard in the restaurant as opposed to his usually mild Helen. Even more odd, Iphwin lets them know he's one of these computing "phages" in human form and its his need to know what's happened to America that allowed them all to gather together simultaneously in the same world to go on this journey with him. Billie Beard, thought dead, keeps appearing, trying to kill them. Still, the book really was a thriller and hard to put down and I enjoyed reading it.

John Barnes (born 1957) is an American science fiction author, whose stories often explore questions of individual moral responsibility within a larger social context.

  • English

  • Science Fiction

  • Rating: 3.38
  • Pages: 304
  • Publish Date: December 15th 1999 by Tor Books
  • Isbn10: 0812571452
  • Isbn13: 9780812571455