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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

The Barsoom Project

Copyright 1989 by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes

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SOJALS rating:     
no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Unrated (0/5)

I first read this in 1992 and most recently on the 21st August 2003

Dream Park is a theme park of the near future. It's chock full of fascinating technology and gives the customer the chance to participate in exhilarating adventures.

This is the most important time in the company's history. The Dream Park company is attempting to generate financial interest in a real Barsoom Project, a real Mars expedition. So it is absolutely critical that Dream Park operates smoothly, that nothing goes wrong.

Alec Griffin, security chief of Dream Park, finds that the park is under attack. A saboteur is loose in the games and an evil business empire is attempting to take over the company.

Still he'll probably sort them out.

This was an upsetting disappointment, and I wasn't even expecting much since this was advertised as "Return To Dreampark..." as if anybody had ever wanted to return to "Dreampark" in the first place. I should confess something: I absolutely loathe Disneylands, except of course the dancers in the News Year's Eve parade at Tokyo Disneyland.

I enjoy those centrifugal force things that spin you round and hold you against the wall while the floor slips away and where you realize, just as your jeans start rising up your legs as you slide a little down the wall, that you're wearing mismatched socks. I also enjoy a rickety old roller coaster.

But I absolutely loathe the sanitised, commercialised vision of the alternate yet banal world that is presented in the theme parks to which I've been. Admittedly I've been to only two, both in the dead of winter and in the bitter cold. Both under extremely arduous conditions, both almost completely without alcohol and tobacco. In Tokyo Disneyland I sat on cold concrete for five hours in near zero temperatures, heating pads plastered over my body. In Paris Eurodisney, I walked, shivering in arctic conditions, across a storm-swept footpath to a solitary, dismal, ride. Of course, they may be better in summer.

And returning smoothly to the novel, the only point of the guest from the Falling Angel orbital lab, is that Niven (or Barnes) can talk about her knees hurting. There is no other significant use made of her character that couldn't have been more conveniently supplied by one of the other protagonists or not supplied at all if Niven and Barnes had more wisely decided not to write this awful book.

And it should not be entitled "The Barsoom Project". If anything, it should be called "Fimbulwinter", the game in which our protagonists compete. There is absolutely no need for any Martian connection. It's misleading madness.

Not a favorite.

Loaded on the 5th May 2004.
Cover art by Joe Burleson

Reviews of other works by Larry Niven:
A Gift From Earth
Neutron Star
Inconstant Moon
A Hole In Space
The Flight Of The Horse
Tales Of Known Space
A World Out Of Time
The Magic Goes Away
Convergent Series
The Patchwork Girl
The Ringworld Engineers
Ringworld's Children

Reviews of other works by Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper:
Building Harlequin's Moon

Reviews of other works by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle:
The Mote in God's Eye
Lucifer's Hammer
Oath Of Fealty
The Moat Around Murcheson's Eye
The Gripping Hand
The Burning City
Burning Tower

Reviews of other works by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes:
Dream Park
The Descent Of Anansi
Achilles Choice
Saturn's Race

Reviews of other works by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Michael Flynn:
Fallen Angels

Reviews of other works by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Steven Barnes:
The Legacy Of Heorot
Beowolf's Children
The Dragons Of Heorot

Reviews of other works by Larry Niven, Poul Anderson and Dean Ing:
The Man-Kzin Wards

Reviews of other works by Steven Barnes:
Blood Brothers