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Losers in Space

3.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  388 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
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 a
Hardcover, 436 pages
Published April 12th 2012 by Viking Juvenile
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Teenagers . . . IN SPACE!
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2012 Young Adult Standalone Challenge
153rd out of 242 books — 903 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,006)
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May 04, 2012 Tatiana rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: hard SF connoisseurs
Shelves: ya, sci-fi, 2012
As seen on The Readventurer

2.5 stars

Losers in Space is essentially a one long test of how much of a SF nerd you are and how "hard" you prefer your SF. Evidently, I am far less nerdy than I had always thought, judging by how little of this book's SF-ness I enjoyed.

Now, I don't want to be unfair to John Barnes, he warns upfront about the nature of his novel. In a Note for the Interested, #0, at the beginning of Losers in Space, he says straight, in a funny and clever way, that his novel is "hard S
Jan 28, 2015 David rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Eenies, Meenies, Mineys, and Moes
You can almost feel the premise of this book and the story John Barnes wanted to tell crashing against current market forces. He's written a hard SF "teens in space" YA novel with echoes of Heinlein, and today, it's estimated that somewhere around 80% of YA readers are girls. I am not saying girls can't read hard SF! Indeed, it would be great if more of them did, and clearly Barnes is trying to encourage more young readers to embrace the geeky science stuff. But the truth is, most girls don't re ...more
Kylie Woolen
Jun 13, 2012 Kylie Woolen rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book. I read the blurb telling what the book is about and it seemed like a good idea and something I would really be interested in. What turned out to be is that the book is extremely difficult to read and get into. so the author tells a bit of the story and then all of a sudden there are what he calls note for interested parties. I read the first one or two and realized that it was just distracting me from the story and making it so that I couldn't get to know the c ...more
Dana Stabenow
May 26, 2015 Dana Stabenow rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 07, 2012 Meagan marked it as did-not-finish
I tried. I gave it Nancy Pearl's fifty pages. But I couldn't do it. The language was crazy. The characters were unlikable. But worst of all, the author made what I consider to be a deal-breaking choice. He decided to write a science fiction adventure with footnotes. Giant, pages-long footnotes jammed right into the middle of the chapter. I'm sorry, and perhaps I'm old fashioned, but I believe you have to make a choice in fiction. Either the science is important to the story and you use your writ ...more
Amelia, the pragmatic idealist
May 25, 2012 Amelia, the pragmatic idealist marked it as not-my-type
Shelves: arcs, alamw12
As Lyndsey mentioned(view spoiler), the marketing possibilities for this book are ENDLESS:

"I'm a 'Loser'!"
"I love 'Losers'!"
"Gotta get me some 'Losers'!"
"Will work for 'Losers'!"
"A 'Loser' kept me up last night!"
Jul 27, 2012 Courtney rated it really liked it
Now, this is true sci-fi. And Barnes makes it quite clear from the first "Notes for the Interested" that this is *hard* sci-fi (in other words, science fiction with an emphasis on the science and technology being as realistic as possible given today's knowledge). While it may have its technical moments, the story is anything but boring. In this future, technology has made it such that very few humans have to work and one of the most lucrative forms of work is entertainment. In a world where the ...more
Nicole Wolverton
Dec 14, 2012 Nicole Wolverton rated it really liked it
This was a book that took me a while to warm to, and this is more like a 3.5 than a 4 for me. I'm still not into the first person present tense narrative style (mostly because the present tense just doesn't seem necessary), but I suddenly loved the novel about 2/3 of the way in after (view spoiler). That, to me, is when things get really great. I particularly loved the reveal about (view spoiler) ...more
May 10, 2012 KWinks rated it really liked it
I would give this 4 and a half. It is truly a great book. Losers is a survival story, a space story, and a social commentary all rolled into one. What really drove me to dive into Losers was Susan (who is pretty kick ass-even if she starts off very fake) and the excellent story telling. I read all of the notes for the interested even when they were a little over my head.
My only gripe, and this is very small, is the lack of emotion of the characters. Except for an early freak out, and a touch of
Ms. Schutte
Oct 01, 2012 Ms. Schutte rated it really liked it

Demented is the only good word for this book. It takes place in a future where no one has to work, yet there's still a rigid class system. To rise above normal, you either have to do so well in school that you qualify for one of the few jobs in the universe, or you have to be a celebrity. And if you're going to try for celebrity status, it has to happen before you're 21 or you're out of luck. The band of misfits in our story is obsessed with becoming famous--mostly because they all come from fam
Chris Aylott
Nov 17, 2013 Chris Aylott rated it it was ok
Mild spoilers ahead.

This is one of those books that I imagine sets Robert A. Heinlein rolling in his grave. It's got a solid SF juvenile story at its core: spoiled teens stow away on a spaceship, and when things inevitably go wrong, they have to rely on their skills and each other to survive. This is a plot that you should not be able to go wrong with.

And Barnes goes so, so wrong with it. There's the condescending intro trying to explain hard SF to the unwashed masses. Then there are the "Notes
Jun 12, 2012 Liviania rated it it was amazing
TALES OF THE MADMAN UNDERGROUND remains one of my favorite books I've ever reviewed for In Bed With Books. It was a surprising treat. But I started LOSERS IN SPACE with astronomical expectations. The first page of the book met those expectations. Notes for the Interested #0 explains that LOSERS IN SPACE will be hard science fiction, but all the science stuff will be regulated to Notes for the Interested instead of infodumps. I love hard sci-fi, so that didn't deter me, and I thought the notes we ...more
Nov 05, 2015 Jennifer rated it liked it
The first quarter of this book was seriously on track to be a one star book - just a really over the top satire of a near future culture of prosperity where the highest goal is to be a celebrity, with vacuous and seriously unpleasant characters. But due to my own stubborn streak, I kept going - and once the book got to the part where the characters are stranded in space, it actually became a pretty good read, until the very end which was a bit pat. So, averaging it out to 3 stars. Note that alth ...more
Jan 26, 2015 Leons1701 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, ya
Warning, john Barnes is a firm believer in truth in titling. When he writes a book called "Losers in Space" be prepared for actual losers. And oh my, these kids are losers when we first see them. Even the protagonist, Susan is just another "drunken sex kitten" in a world where that is an actual occupational track. See, nobody actually has to work anymore, the vast majority of humanity subsists (at a standard most previous generations would envy greatly) on a basic stipend that everyone gets, in ...more
May 11, 2014 Ali rated it liked it
Most times when I start off hating all the characters in a book, this does not change the case of Losers in Space, their unlikability was intentional and the characters grew and matured to a believable degree. Most fascinatingly, the main/POV character remained kind of a sociopath, but with ultimately "good" intentions. She shocked and horrified me, but I couldn't hate her.

I don't read a lot of hard sci fi, mainly because too much math and physics hurts my brain. The tech and science
Lady Knight
Dec 25, 2012 Lady Knight rated it really liked it
This was an interesting read. I've always really liked science fiction and was interested in a novel that promised "hard" sci-fi for teens. As far as attempts go, this was something of a mixed bag. I appreciated the attempt to section out the "hard" bits but making them separate sections that could be skipped (or read) by the reader at will, but I found more often than not, they had to be read (or at least skimmed) in order to understand the world (most of the 'notes' from the first third of the ...more
Kristin Lundgren
Jun 11, 2012 Kristin Lundgren rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-sci-fi, spaceships
This is a book hard to pin down. I started writing the review in my head shortly after I started it, but it kept changing. The basic premise is that in the far future, a government has evolved that has created peace, and an end to hunger and poverty. Everyone gets a wage that is quite comfortable, so they never have to work, although some like to, and some jobs do need people in them. But in the top tier of the social and economic strata are the celebrities - the Paris Hiltons of their day; the ...more
Ivy Deliz
This book is very unique: it's hard sci-fi and young adult, which made me immediately put it on my to-read queue. It's my first hard sci-fi book so I really enjoined reading the "Notes for the interested" about Aldrin cycles and laser beam propulsion. There's a bit of fantasy that I was NOT expecting with Fwuffy but I feel it was well developed. Also it has a bit of "Gossip Girl"-esque feel to it where kids who just want to be famous celeb-eenies (you'll see), always be in the media eye, having ...more
Caitlin Marineau
Aug 31, 2012 Caitlin Marineau rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Set in a media-obsessed world a little over one-hundred years in our future, John Barnes’ new novel tells the story of how far a group of teens is willing to go to achieve fame. In their society everyone is given a minimum amount to live on, and the only way to achieve an additional fortune is to become a professional celebrity by having your image featured in enough media to be considered famous. A group of slacker teenagers decides that the best way to secure their own success is to stow away ...more
Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers

Let me preface this review with a warning: I loved this book. Intensely. Fangirlish gushing ahead.

It is the year 2129, and Earth has changed. It is a peaceful place, without war or strife, and everyone lives a comfortable lifestyle of leisure thanks to a largely robotic workforce. While robots handle the bulk of humanity's needs, there are some very key professions that still require a human touch; namely the arts/entertainment, athletics, certain elemen
Although it took me awhile to get into this title, possibly because of the science-related Notes for the Interested or the vocabulary words used by the characters or even the characters themselves, but once I relaxed and gave the book a fair shot, I really enjoyed it. The plot revolves around sixteen-year-old Susan Tervaille, the daugher of a famous actor, and a cast of other self-dubbed losers with plenty of time on their hands and no way to spend it. It's 2129, and hardly anyone needs to work. ...more
Sep 23, 2012 Doug rated it really liked it
Rounding up from 3 1/2 stars...

In the post-scarcity 22nd century of Losers in Space, notoriety is worth more than any currency. A loose-knit group of the underachieving kids of famous folks aim to increase their profiles by stowing away on a spaceship bound for Mars. But the plan's architect might be a genuine sociopath. And there are a lot of ways to earn notoriety. . .

Barnes positions Losers in Space explicitly as a gateway book for readers interested in moving from "soft" science fiction/fant
I had such fun reading this story! While I do love the Star Trek/Star Wars style of sci-fi, in which "science" is just magic by a different name, there is something particularly enjoyable in reading hard sci-fi and knowing that there's an real chance this cool technology could develop in the future. It made the story feel a little closer to home, you know?

This book is particularly awesome in that it gives its readers a choice of how much they want to immerse themselves in the science explanatio
Dec 22, 2013 Janna rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Liz Barr
Jan 05, 2014 Liz Barr rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This was an interesting hard science-fiction book. In fact, the intro talks about the difference between hard and soft science-fiction.

The book has an unusual structure. There are "Notes for the Interested" that are worked into the story which explains the science behind what's going on. It interrupts the flow of the story, and at one point the note gave away a major plot point long before it happened. Some of them were also a bit technical for me. I think it's a cool thing to do, and I guess t
Nancy H
Mar 20, 2013 Nancy H rated it liked it
A good book for fans of Star Trek and other space epics, this will hold the attention of teens interested in space travel and astronomy, in survival in space, and in the interactions of a group of 'losers', as they call themselves, who are stuck together on a spaceship that has lost its crew. As with any group of teenagers,unexpected leaders emerge, there is a murderous killer in the group, and there are several teens who find great strengths in themselves as they are forced to put their own abi ...more
Sep 01, 2014 Gabby rated it it was ok
DNF. I just could not deal with this book. The beginning was pretty good, but it just went on a flat note and never picked back up. I tried to pull through because I didn't want another amazing cover to go to waste, but I couldn't do the tedious task of reading this book. I tried to say I couldn't read this book because of so much homework, which was partially true, but in the back of my mind it was just that this book was just not good.
This book really surprised me. I was interested when we first got the book last year, but I kept putting it off, thinking that it might be too tongue in cheek for me to get involved with the story. I definitely was interested in the story, and I really appreciated bring harder science fiction to teens. It's also ultra dark, but that won't keep you from reading it in 1 or 2 sittings.
Apr 29, 2013 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-fantasy-scifi
I was 100% on board with this book until about 3/4 of the way through. Barnes creates an interesting mix of hard sci-fi and teen social drama. In the future the only two currencies that matter are talent and fame. A group of seemingly un-talented teens decide to seek fame by stowing away on a spaceship to Mars. Throughout the book Barnes sprinkles what he calls "Notes for the Interested," non-fictional discussions of the history of the world he's built and the physics of space travel, all of whi ...more
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John Barnes (born 1957) is an American science fiction author, whose stories often explore questions of individual moral responsibility within a larger social context. Social criticism is woven throughout his plots. The four novels in his Thousand Cultures series pose serious questions about the effects of globalization on isolated societies. Barnes holds a doctorate in theatre and for several yea ...more
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