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A Million Open Doors
John Barnes
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A Million Open Doors (Giraut #1)

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  663 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
The most isolated of humanity’s Thousand Cultures, Nou Occitan—on the planet Wilson—is a place where duels are fought with equal passion over insults and artistic views alike. Where young men take loyalty seriously: to each other, to their art, to the women to whom they devote poetry and swordplay. A place of violent natural beauty, gradually being terraformed over centuri ...more
Hardcover, 315 pages
Published October 1st 1992 by Tor Books (first published 1992)
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Jul 06, 2011 Anastasia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-opera
SF about a culture clash of two planets: a flamboyant poetry-spouting, mountain-climbing, dueling troubador (Giraut) going to a highly repressed religious planet, where there is no art or culture or freedom of expression, and sparks a revolution. Better than I expected, but I had a few quibbles with the book.

*SPOILERS* The main character is quite repulsed by the appearance of one very plain woman; her flaws (shiny uneven skin, unpleasing features, dispropotioned body) are so distracting to him,
Oct 02, 2015 Liviu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
loved this one and the immediate sequel (which is much darker but resonated a lot), though the third milieu book was a huge letdown; this is lighter but lots of fun
Simon Mcleish
Sep 17, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in October 2000.

Each of John Barnes' novels to date has been different, each an excellent piece of science fiction. A Million Open Doors is based on a scenario similar to some of the ideas behind Gordon R. Dickson's Dorsai trilogy - the bringing together once more of the splintered subcultures into which the human race has developed after isolation on colony planets separated by interstellar space - while in tone it is reminiscent of the classic novels of Isa
Fábio Fernandes
I had heard of this book a long time ago, but I could never found it until I got to Seattle last year. (last time I checked on a few days ago, you can't find a new edition still, and only two books of the Giraut series is available on Kindle - parts 3 and 4, for crying out loud!) This upsets me a lot, because I love to read a series in its entirety when the first book grips my attention. And this far future story sure did it. I loved the way Barnes created a whole retro-Occitan societ ...more
John Barnes' "A Million Open Doors" (the first in his "Thousand Cultures" series) is an interesting book that's a bit uneven. Well, it's actually quite a bit uneven. For instance, the protagonist is from a world whose culture emulates the drawing room crowd of the French Revolution. Or, perhaps, it's the beatnik crowd of 1960s. I don't quite know. But, in a nutshell, the main character is a self-centered, callow, lout. Yet, after a lot of pages with this personality, he walks into a room and is ...more
Dans ce roman, on suit les pas de Giraut, jeune habitant de la planète Nou Occitan qui, par suite d'un dépit amoureux, s'embarque dans un long et périlleux voyage pour la calédonie, une planète qui rejoint enfin le réseau de portes des étoiles ... pardon, de Passeurs reliant les milliers de cultures terrestres dispersées sur quelques étoiles assez proches de la terre.
J'avais, avant de lire ce roman, une opinion curieuse de l'auteur. John Barnes était pour moi l'auteur de deux livres quasiment an
Thomas Blaine
Jul 27, 2013 Thomas Blaine rated it liked it
Shelves: own
There was much to like about this novel: you are dumped right into the culture and story and forced to figure things out quickly, to the interplay of cultures and languages, to some engaging characters (though some will disagree on this point). It was also fast moving with a nice mix of action, character development and political discussion. However there we many disappointments as well: many elements which made no sense, development that felt very rushed in many places, and an ending that left ...more
James Spencer
Apr 28, 2015 James Spencer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has the flavor of a classic SciFi novel out of the 50's, in its somewhat innocent or unsofisticated attempts to reviel a message about clashing human cultures and morality. The major points are often forced home with rapier sharpness, leaving the reader numb to the more subtle character interplay. Any SciFi enthusiast will likely find this an intresting coming of age story and reasonable first installment of a series.
Considering the publication date and world affairs of that time, The phra
Scott Holstad
Giraut is from the planet Nou Occitan, a place where duels are fought with equal passion over perceived insults and artistic views alike. A place where the language seems derived from Portuguese and there’s entirely too much of it, untranslated. Giraut is an enthusiastic member of a culture based around the ideals of the medieval troubadours, a culture of literature and art, dueling, and “macho” personal honor. However, with the invention of the "springer," instantaneous interstellar travel has ...more
Dec 11, 2014 L.A. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is BFF's, read it on a whim. It was interesting, but not something I'd read twice. Basically it's about cultural imperialism and misunderstandings, which you would think I would love, but...I don't know. I think it's Barnes's style. It's just...flat. And I wanted to learn more about the world Giraut left before he left it. We got some, but not enough (rules of finamor, please? You can't tease us with an elaborate system of Occitans-inspired chivalry and then just abandon it...). Anyway, I d ...more
Feb 18, 2013 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I have read by Barnes, although I think I've read several of his short stories. In this book, I was not very engaged with the characters, but the "universe" that Barnes created was of much greater interest. This is the universe of The Thousand Cultures. Man has spread across the galaxy and splintered into many, many diverse cultures, out of touch with each other for the most part. This is Poul Anderson territory and he was one of my favorites.
Giraut is from the planet Nou
Alan Zendell
I am truly perplexed by this book. When I read of all the awards it either won or was nominated for, I expected a lot. I wouldn't say the book is bad, but it didn't deliver what its hype promised. For example, one reviewer trumpets that the author really makes the readers care. About what?

I certainly didn't care about the characters, who I found generally unlikable and inconsistent in their development. I simply didn't believe them. I also didn't believe the story in many places, though the gene
Andy Love
Feb 07, 2013 Andy Love rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Man Who Learned Better" is a classic plotline, but when it's done well, it can be very entertaining. John Barnes starts his take on that plotline in a culture designed to emulate a mythical culture of medieval troubadours, devoted to poetry, dueling and “honor” – somewhat foreign to modern eyes, but with values that modern folks are familiar with (and which influence society still – the initial scene which Giraut paints in a romantic light, is basically a rumble between two street gangs, li ...more
Jun 09, 2013 Jenne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenne by: Jo Walton
A really charming SF story! It's the far future, and there are many Earth colonies on many worlds. Our hero is from a very Romantic culture (lots of art, music, dueling, courtly love, etc) and ends up on a sort of ultra-Lutheran world (very religious, rational, no frivolity).

I liked the little throwaway bits of Earth culture here and there, like how each society gets to make up its own historical facts (e.g. Milton Friedman was eaten by cannibals in Zurich) or how people still sing "The Happy W
Steven Allen
This book started a little slow, but the second half was better. I would not go out of my way to find other books in this series, but if I found them at the library discount shelf again I would certainly grab them. I used to read a lot of SciFi, but lately have not found any to my liking. This story was ok - a little too much political intrigue and lack of action for my tastes, but a decent read. I am not looking for the great literary novel - I just want some good escapist literature.
Nov 25, 2014 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sci-fi done well, and Barnes did an interesting job of making the idea of the Thousand Cultures interesting, down to the politics and economies of the worlds. I'm really glad I took the chance on this one and bought the next one with it, because I'll be starting that book tonight.
I had this on my "WorldCat" book log. But don't remember ever having read it. (I often read books and don't remember the the whole story line.) But, I don't ever remember reading this. What does that say about the book?
Kristin Lundgren
Nou Occitan, Giraut, Quartier, jovent, donzelha Garsenda, Rimabut his best frined killed in a duel, and worn as a pyspyx for a whiel until he faded, and Aimeric, a refuge economist from the fringe planet colony of Nansen, with it's culutres ondifferent continents of Caledony and St. Michael. It was not terraformed by teh inhabitans, since it had microscopic life, theyw ere allowed to do as much or as littel as they chose - so they meerely added enough plants and animals for their requirements. T ...more
May 16, 2007 Zab rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: otherworlds
This incredibly fun sci fi novel takes the protagonist from the troubador planet to the Protestant Work Ethic planet, whose capital is Utilitopia. Has a fast-moving plot, several duels, a romance of sorts, a couple great insults, and some too-facile feminism.

Only after I had read it twice did I realize that it was, in fact, the most entertaining defense of Keynsian economics that ever has been or will be written.

Downside: a bit dismissive of spirituality and cultural diversity.

Warning: if you li
Sep 26, 2009 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sci-fi readers
I just finished reading this story of the clash of cultures on different planets. With the advent of the technology for people to travel instantaneously from one planet to another, an effort begins to reintegrate all of the far-flung human colonies into a connected human culture.

Giraut and two friends go from their home on Nou Occitan to Caledony, where they encounter a vastly different and repressive culture. Giraut's character develops and grows over time as he meets new people in incorporates
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]A great read: perhaps reflecting a bit the fall of the Wall and globalisation more generally, it's about an encounter between cultures, the dour market-driven frozen colony of Caledony being forced to open up to the rest of the galaxy and in partiicular to the romantic troubadours of New Occitan. Lots of interesting politics and general growing-up for our Occitanian narrator as he realises more about the problems of his own society as a r ...more
Norman Howe
A chilling story of what can happen when closed and open societies clash.
Dec 19, 2013 Marvin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This was a rather ho-hum book. It describes two cultures - one where technology does everything so people can write poetry, duel one another for excitement and generally look down upon women. The other avoids overusing technology by having each person replace a robot for 4 hours a day. Very much like a puritan culture meeting a very hedonistic one.

The characters are not very appealing and the two cultures do not seem like they really could survive. I finished the book, but only because my book g
Mark Hutchinson
Jan 14, 2015 Mark Hutchinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
great series
Mar 03, 2009 Bill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm really only 9/10 through this book, and maybe it will wow me in that final 1/10 — but I'll be the one over here not holding my breath.

It's well-written, the universe and plot are interesting, and the characters have depth... but there's just not much more than that going for it. So far. I already have the sequel, since I got them together at a used book store, but unless there's an especially gripping cliffhanger, I imagine it'll be some time before I give it a chance.
I really liked the shape of the story, a fair number of the ideas (some of which were smart), and the sense that the supporting cast felt alive in the sense that several of them had lives happening in the background. I did enjoy the filler and world building, even if it felt too much like a presentation -- possibly one with Powerpoint, infodumps, classically telling instead of showing, tending towards the dry.
An exploration of what would happen after humanity spreads to the stars, each "colony" developing its own culture and values, if it were possible to travel from one planet to another quickly enough for planetary cultures to "corrupt" each other.

John Barnes' book was quite witty and fun to read as he took his characters through some of the possibilities.
Apr 09, 2012 Foxtower rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: entertainment
While I was dissapointed that more of the plot didn't involve the "springer" (I like tech stuff!),and there was really only one chapter that really grabbed me, overall it was a good story with great characters discovering themselves, both their positive and negative qualities, by encountering dramatically different cultures.
Apr 15, 2009 Ccharla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably one of my favorite sci-fi books (and series, and authors) ever. Oscar got his middle name from one of the characters in this book. I can't describe it better than the GoodReads synopsis, other than to say that the prose is awesome and the universe is just amazingly well thought out and formed.
Jun 06, 2010 Mathieu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
Best thing I've read in ages. The characterization, particularly of the protagonist, is skillful and well paced. The settings are well crafted, different without being cartoon opposites... All in all, it feels like a better, richer, grown-up version of the Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
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Goodreads Librari...: Combine editions 3 14 Apr 25, 2013 04:29AM  
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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
More about John Barnes...

Other Books in the Series

Giraut (4 books)
  • Earth Made of Glass (Giraut #2)
  • The Merchants of Souls (Giraut, #3)
  • The Armies of Memory (Giraut, #4)

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