Posts Tagged ‘Vonda N. McIntyre’

Library Book Sale Finds: Barbary by Vonda N. McIntyre

Good morning, squiders! I finally stopped checking a million books out from the library, so I’m getting back to reading books I actually own.

And, as such, I dug into my big pile of library book sale books from a few summers back and picked out a book.

(It was on the top of the pile. That was the deciding factor.)

Vonda N. McIntyre (the usage of the middle initial in her author name interests me, since her first name is fairly unique. Maybe it was to match the convention of other scifi authors at the time?) I’ve read before. (Oh no, I just Googled her, and she died in April. Rest in peace.) She wrote some Star Trek novels, which is where I know her from. Most notably (for me, probably not for other people, since she also wrote the movie novelizations for Star Treks 2 through 4) she wrote Enterprise: The First Adventure, which I picked up because it sounded like total crack–for its very first mission, the Enterprise has to transport a space circus, complete with flying horse–but it was actually really well done.

She also won a Hugo in 1979 for Dreamsnake, which I’ve not read, but sounds cool. And another Hugo in 1998 for The Moon and the Sun.

There’s some spoilers in the discussion, because unfortunately I can’t really discuss the plot without revealing something that the book keeps secret for the first few chapters.

Title: Barbary
Author: Vonda N. McIntyre
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication Year: 1986

Pros: Quick, easy read; includes a cat and aliens
Cons: Ends a little abruptly

We meet Barbary (a 12-year-old girl) waiting, on Earth, yet again, as she attempts to get a shuttle to a space station to meet her foster family. (She keeps getting bumped off for more important people.) Barbary doesn’t really read like a 12-year-old most of the time–I’d put her a little older, maybe 14 or 15–but I suppose the argument could be made that she’s had to mature a little faster due to being in the foster care system for so long. (There is a point, later in the book, where her new foster father, a friend of her mother’s, is upset about something, and Barbary fully expects him to hit her, because that’s what she’s used to, which is heartbreaking.)

Adding to the complication of getting off Earth is that Barbary is smuggling her pet cat, Mickey, with her. Mickey, or Mick as Barbary normally refers to him, is a major motivation for her as well as a plot driver, and directly contributes to the climax of the story.

Once Barbary manages to catch a shuttle and get off Earth, she learns that there’s an alien ship approaching Earth, which is why it’s been so hard to get off-world (all the politicians and so forth keep taking priority). It’s on a course to the station Barbary will be living on.

This was a quick, easy read, one that was enjoyable. There’s not a lot of depth to the plot, but that’s fine. Barbary is a fine viewpoint character, mostly concerned with the wellbeing of the people/animal close to her and making sure she doesn’t get sent back to Earth (though the wellbeing does trump that). The alien ship is important but in the background for most of the story, which makes sense since, as a child, Barbary is more interested in things closer to home. There’s some nice, logical discussion about moving and living in space, and the technology predictions (we’ve talked before how older scifi tends to be good at predicting societal trends and bad at predicting technological trends, or vice versa) are not particularly jarring.

I’d recommend it overall. And if you haven’t read anything by Vonda McIntyre, you probably should.

Read anything by Ms. McIntyre, squiders? Read Barbary?