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Child of Fortune

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  263 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
In the exotic interstellar civilization of the Second Starfaring Age, youthful wanderers are known as Children of Fortune. This is the tale of one such wanderer, who seeks her destiny on an odyssey of self-discovery amid humanity's many worlds. Arresting and visionary, Child of Fortune is a science-fictional On the Road.
Paperback, 480 pages
Published March 6th 2002 by Tom Doherty Associates (first published 1985)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-29 of 556)
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Michael Alexander
Mar 25, 2008 Michael Alexander rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: hallucinogen-fiends, loopy 60s SF-heads, people who like james joyce and bad beat poetry
This is the most ragingly 1960s book I've ever read that wasn't produced by '72. Somehow, it took Spinrad till the mid-'80s to sum it ALL up in the form of an idealized coming-of-age-in-space story set in a culture with a pronounced "journeyman" phase that's celebrated as the cornerstone of identity-building; yes, this is in the same universe as the Void Captain's Tale, which is all about spaceships powered by mentally unstable women strapped into mindblowing-orgasm machines, which probably hint ...more
MissingNorth
Feb 22, 2014 MissingNorth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: have
Child of Fortune found me when I was a teenager. It was the first book I read with a female character who was encouraged (pushed even) into taking control of her whole life, including her sexuality.

This is the type of coming-of-age story I wish more girls could experience in real life - that the world is huge and full of the terrific and terrible, that our individual realities are shaped by how we act and with whom we associate, and that it is not only okay but important to enjoy lovers and fri
...more
Ronald
Oct 30, 2011 Ronald rated it it was amazing
Norman Spinrad wrote numerous novels and short stories, mostly in science fiction, and is still writing today. His blog is http://normanspinradatlarge.blogspot....

_Child of Fortune_ by Spinrad is one of the most wonderful novels I ever read, an under-rated classic of science fiction. It is the opposite of a dystopian novel: it shows a future, which, at least for me, is quite desirable. Two notable elements of this far future is that the human race has colonized hundreds of worlds, and that every
...more
Vivian Williams
Jun 07, 2014 Vivian Williams rated it it was amazing
My initial impression of this book was that anyone in their late teens and twenties should read this, if only for the psychological discourse on youth and spiritual (as well as physical) wanderlust and love of adventure. But as it went on, it developed into something far more sweeping and universal: a tale about the power of tales and their eternal place at the very heart of humanity. And Spinrad wraps up the conclusion both in a satisfying way on this larger, philosophical level, and in the per ...more
Melody
Aug 06, 2012 Melody rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up at Powell's because I remembered loving it as a kid. Apparently I was hypnotized by the combination of two dollar words and sex, because that's all this book consists of. Spinrad is especially fond of 'puissance', 'hypnogogic' and 'lingam'.

Here's a random sentence: "In truth, as I knew even then, the weltanschauung which had so consumed my soul with dread under the influence of the psychotropic had been little more than the heightened subjective apprehension of the rudiments of
...more
Patrick
Jul 25, 2015 Patrick rated it did not like it
Started this but having a hard slog as the whole thing is written in a kind of neo-Victorian patois that is damned annoying...
I like Norman Spinrad. A lot. I like his snarky humor, his neo-anarchic politics, his fine eye for satire. That being said, this is just about the worst damn novel I've ever read. Meant as (apparently) a kind of hippy Bildungsroman, it is instead a disjointed mess of uninteresting characters, contrived plot and that godawful annoying pretentious repetitious in-universe di
...more
Marsha Wilcox
May 04, 2013 Marsha Wilcox rated it it was amazing
Hippie, quirky, full of ideas that make you say "I wonder if that'd work?" I liked it the first time I read it as a counter-culture book in my late teens, and found more depth when I re-read it almost 4 decades later.

What would it be like to be given a year or so to wander and find your true calling? What if society was set up with the expectation that all teens would do this?

What would your true calling have been?
jojo the burlesque poetess
Jul 09, 2009 jojo the burlesque poetess marked it as limbo-unfinished
lent to me by Laurie/libramoon (producer of "emerging visions" ezine) and oh my gosh it is so much fun. erudite franglais and then some. a gibberish even i can say is a bit bizarre, however easy it is for me to understand, given, similar hippy linguisilliness i write in myself...
Dan
Feb 17, 2009 Dan rated it it was amazing
This book (and author) are perennial favorites of mine; in particular his post-global polyglot writing style infects any sci-fi I even think about writing.
Ross
Jul 14, 2015 Ross rated it liked it
Lyrical and flowery language, including the use of a polyglot narrator, that borders on poetry but can get in the way at times.

Enjoyed the writing a lot, but I can see how some people may not enjoy the style in this book. The book was published in the 80s, but had an amazingly 1960s/70s feel to it - mind altering substances and tantric and liberal sex.

Plot was pretty straightforward - just a journey. Not a lot of character to character conflict, but somehow the narrative still moves forward.

A un
...more
Kat
Apr 21, 2015 Kat rated it it was amazing
Will forever remain my favorite.
Grace
Oct 25, 2015 Grace rated it did not like it
to make it clear i'm a beginner reader and as i got bored of the typical NY best sellers books i decided i should try something new, so i picked up this book marking it as my ever first book from the 80's, of course me being unpredictable i thought that because this book was "classic" it must be good, i was wrong.

a lot of people say that the classic genre of books are way better than NY bestsellers book, in reality, their actually the same!, i mean its the same for this book in particular, when
...more
Sgmiller
Mar 11, 2013 Sgmiller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Norman Spinard's science fiction tale takes place in a distant Utopian future where humanity has left Earth and colonized some three hundred planets in our race's quest for the ever elusive frontier. We open on a water world that feels like a tropical jungle where people live in buildings suspended or built on the complex root structures (similar I imagine to the Lost coast of Florida ).

Here our narrator, a young female around the age of 17 or 18 years, explains to us some intricacies of human
...more
Bill Tillman
Mar 19, 2010 Bill Tillman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, humor, otherworlds
Zany
Stuart
Dec 05, 2013 Stuart rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
"A young girl's erotic journey from Milan to Minsk..." oops, wrong plot, that was from Seinfeld. Anyway, that is probably not too far off a review for this book. Basically, it is a science fiction story of a girl's Golden Summer of traveling vagabond style across the universe to find her destined path on the Yellow Brick Road.

Moussa Shasta Leonardo (aka Sunshine, aka Wendi) is an intriguing character and the story does try to capture both the romantic ideals of the 1960s Hippie lifestyle and co
...more
John C.
Apr 30, 2016 John C. rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up
Quit around page 250, which I believe was the part where the characters visited the planet made of drugs. I think you have to be sympathetic to the enduring myth of 60's counterculture to enjoy this thing. As a dude who has already wasted hours of his life staring at stereo speakers trying to understand the appeal of Jerry Garcia ballads, I do not have the time.
Andrew S  Taylor
Nov 06, 2009 Andrew S Taylor rated it it was amazing
A flawed jewel. Narrated by a young woman from a privileged family in a future, interplanetary society, it is basically a soul-searching travelogue - in space. Just to funk it up a little, Spinrad gives her a sort of futuristic, neo-Edwardian/Cajun dialect. Yes, really. It borders on extreme silliness too many times to mention, especially in descriptions of tantric sex, of which there are many (oddly enough, though they are wordy and elaborate, they don't actually "show" much).

There is so much a
...more
Susan Gerkin Spensley
Nov 05, 2015 Susan Gerkin Spensley rated it it was amazing
This is by far my favorite book of all time! It is difficult to read at first due to the mixture of language styles, but once you're into it, it becomes easier and more familiar. I've read this book 4 times over the years.
Steve Joyce
Jun 30, 2015 Steve Joyce rated it really liked it
This is a sixties book somehow even though it wasn't published that far back.

Now, some say that the 60s were about sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. Well, there's plenty of the 1st 2 in abundance. But that's just not enough to properly sustain it throughout.

The tale did pick up momentum as it went along and did have a poignant finale. Add this to Spinrad's ability as a stylist and Child of Fortune rates as a near miss.

Michael
Brilliant sci fi satirical rendering of the "war" between the sexes published in 1979 which I read and enjoyed in the 80's. A recent tour of Amazon reviews makes me want to recommend it here and consider revisiting it myself. A "pacific" colony of near equality between genders on planet Pacifica is disrupted by opposing new factions in the form of radical feminists and male neofascists.
Jaeme
Apr 03, 2008 Jaeme rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone with a taste for the fantastic and unusual.
Recommended to Jaeme by: Lori Biletnikoff
This is one of the "bestest/funnest" books I've ever read. It's the tale of a girl's "interstellar life and travels" as she grows to womanhood, and it takes you through some fascinating places and amazing adventures. The characters are colorful, unique, and very memorable.

I've read it at least twice in my life, and I intend to read it again as soon as I can lay hands on a copy.
James Jesso
Apr 20, 2016 James Jesso rated it it was amazing
This book was hard to get into with its writing style, and between arcs it was hard to stay interested. That being said, WOW, what a f*cking amazing ride that book was. I am so glad I pushed through and read the whole thing. I am also really glad for having read his other book, Void Captains Take first as it put the story into a much more interesting and full context.
Tucker
Aug 02, 2010 Tucker rated it it was amazing
A parable set in a futuristic, space faring society, it is the best novel about being a flowerchild of the 60's I have ever encountered.
zabira
Jun 15, 2007 zabira rated it liked it
Quite frankly, I enjoy this book somewhat against my will and definitely against my better judgement...
Joseph Pitz
Oct 18, 2015 Joseph Pitz rated it did not like it
Shelves: scifi
Had to give up, hated the way it's written.
Sarah Sammis
May 27, 2011 Sarah Sammis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-1998
The description pretty much says it all.
Andrew
Andrew rated it it was amazing
Apr 30, 2016
Rodica
Rodica marked it as to-read
Apr 29, 2016
harvey gibson
harvey gibson marked it as to-read
Apr 23, 2016
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Born in New York in 1940, Norman Spinrad has been an acclaimed SF writer.

Norman Spinrad, born in New York City, is a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science. In 1957 he entered City College of New York and graduated in 1961 with a Bachelor of Science degree as a pre-law major. In 1966 he moved to San Francisco, then to Los Angeles, and now lives in Paris. He married fellow novelist N. Lee Woo
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“Therefore, since I could count on no continuity of sapient will to carry me through, indeed since all that was certain was that I must suffer repeated loss of same in order to maintain my body's vitality, my only course was to accomplish with what I hoped was the greater puissance of conscious craft what I had already once barely managed to achieve by accident of fate.

Which was to use these periods of conscious lucidity to engrave a mantric tropism upon the presentient levels of my mind with perpetual chanting repetition and diligent meditation, so that even when reason and conscious will had once more fled, my Bloomenkind self would, during periods of enforced floral nirvana, be programmed to follow the yellow, to follow the sun that sooner or later must rise during a cycle of such meditations into its percept sphere.

"Follow the sun, follow the yellow, follow the Yellow Brick Road ...”
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