Monday, March 1, 2010

The Golden Globe, by John Varley

THE GOLDEN GLOBEI must confess, I very nearly gave up on this book about fifty pages in. The "hero", Kenneth Valentine, is an egotistical stage actor and con artist, and his exploits are not nearly so entertaining as, say, Slippery Jim DiGriz's. However, I pressed on, and finished the story. On the whole, it was reasonably entertaining.
The tale ranges, astrographically, from a space station called Brementon, near Pluto, to a settlement on Luna. Valentine runs afoul of the Charonese Mafia in the outer planets, and spends most of the novel on the run, trying to get to Luna to play the role of his life, King Lear. We learn that he was a child star on Luna, with a successful show called Sparky and His Gang, that made him a fortune at a very early age. However, after the death of his father, a brutal and abusive man, he fled the inner system and has been scamming and acting (not a lot of difference between the two) his way around the solar system ever since.
The thing that keeps this story entertaining is Varley's talent for describing the various societies and technological wonders that have come into being since Man was wiped out on Earth by the alien Invaders, who have settled on Jupiter. There's also a ton of scathing commentary about the nature of the entertainment business and the backstabbing players in that game, which most likely relate to the world as we know it now.

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