Cover image for Candle
Barnes, John, 1957-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : TOR, [2000]

Physical Description:
237 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Science Fiction/Fantasy

On Order



Currie Culver is about fifty-five years old, in good health, living in a comfortable retirement in the Rockies with his wife. In the wake of the Meme Wars that swept the planet two generations before, Currie, his wife, and almost everyone on Earth have in their minds a copy of One True, software that grants its hosts limited telepathy and instills a kind of general cooperation.
In his younger days, Currie hunted "comboys"--people who had unplugged from the global net in order to evade One True, and who hid in wilderness areas, surviving by raiding the outposts of civilization. Now Currie is called back into service to capture the last comboy still at large, a man who calls himself Lobo. With his high tech equipment, thoroughly plugged into the global net, Currie sets out to bring Lobo in.
Instead, Lobo captures Currie, and manages to deprogram him. Thrown back on the resources of his own intelligence, courage, and wisdom for the first time in twenty-five years, Currie finds himself in a battle of minds with his captor . . . with results that will change the lives of everyone on Earth.
In the best tradition of John W. Campbell and Robert A. Heinlein, Candle is a novel about individualism and society that will leave readers breathless, arguing, and demanding more.

Author Notes

John Barnes is the award-winning author of Orbital Romance , A Million Open Doors , Mother of Storms , Earth Made of Glass , The Merchants of Souls , Candle , and many other novels. With Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, he wrote the novels Encounter with Tiber and The Return . He lives in Colorado.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In the late-twenty-first century, Currie Culver, who in his youth had been a kind of bounty hunter, is called back into service by One True, which is the telepathic linkage of humankind that is responsible for an era of unprecedented peace and cooperation. Currie must run down one last cowboy (i.e., person who resists the linkage), Lobo, who has evaded One True's satellite surveillance and raided its remote installations with impunity. But Lobo cleverly captures Currie and disarms him of much of his software, which revives Currie's memories of war that One True blocked out. Early in the twenty-first century, small armies had nearly destroyed the planet. Soldiers like Currie and Lobo were completely traumatized. But One True fixed all that. Barnes asks the thoughtful question, What if Big Brother turned out to be reasonable and humane rather than paranoid and totalitarian? The cost would still be personal freedom. The benefit would be an earth in balance. Would the benefit be worth the cost? --John Mort

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a multitextured narrative that explores issues of free will and of the virtues and dangers of forced utopia, Barnes (Finity) portrays a world in which humanity is linked like a computer network under the "One True." The victor of the devastating war of the Memes--computer viruses able to operate in mind and machine alike--One True is working toward rebuilding Earth and keeping all of its humans happy. Through a program called Resuna, which is installed in individual brains, One True allows anyone to download the experiences and talents of anyone else. Resuna also keeps bad feelings and memories from harming its host. Living outside this overly happy society are the "cowboys," who operate under their own free wills until they are caught and "turned" to One True. Barnes's protagonist, Currie Curtis Curran, was once a cowboy hunter. His final hunt was disastrous, however, ending in the death of members of his party as well as of his quarry--or so he thought. When the elusive cowboy once again appears on One True's radar, Currie is sent after him but is himself captured. The cowboy shuts down Currie's Resuna and, with it, his link to One True. He then shows the hunter the parts of his mind that he has been missing. Much more than a simple parable in tribute to freedom, Barnes's new novel will continually have readers questioning who is in control and who is in the right. Creative science; the creepiness inherent in the phrase "let overwrite, let override," which allows Resuna to take complete control of a person's mind; the complexity of Currie's character; the futuristic slang that sparkles throughout--all add up to a full, rich vision of the future, albeit one compressed expertly into 240 pages. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

With the end of the Meme Wars, most humans of the 21st century live peaceful lives plugged into the universal network known as One True. When Currie Curran receives a summons to resume his old occupation of "cowboy" hunter and retrieve the last renegade from the global net, he embarks on a manhunt that soon becomes a psychological war between himself and his prey--with unexpected and disturbing results. The author of Mother of Storms uses a confrontation between captor and captive to tell a tale of despotism disguised as benevolence and to call into question the importance of individual freedom and social responsibility. Thoughtful and sometimes disturbing, this sf drama belongs in most libraries. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



One thing you have to say for the Colorado Rockies, you sleep good, these days, now that there's nothing to worry about. I was dead solid asleep when I woke up to a voice saying, "Hey, Currie." I didn't recognize the voice right away, but that wasn't so unusual; One True speaks in different voices. I sat up in bed, facing into the bright moonlight. Mary and me, we love to sleep with the curtains open so we can see the sky and wake up with the sunlight, and we can do it nowadays because nobody ever looks through a window anymore unless they're supposed to. Probably we could've done it in the old days anyway because Sursumcorda, Colorado, never had more than a thousand people anyway, and we live a ways outside and above it. Our house up there is a nice old twentieth--century A-frame with lots of glass. With that southern exposure, on a full moon night, you wouldn't need electricity to read in there. "Hey, Three-Cur." Nobody's called me that in a long time so I was wondering for just a second if I was having a waking dream, like I used to just after I retired. But Mary didn't even twitch, and since we always leave our link on while we're at home, when I have a bad dream, or she does, we both wake up. And my copy of Resuna seemed pretty calm tonight--nothing out there but the usual traffic of assurances and friendliness. "You're wide awake, Currie, and we need to talk," the voice said. Now I knew it was One True. It had chosen to come to me through my auditory nerves, instead of as a voice entirely in my head. I reached to my copy of Resuna and it reached to Mary's; sure enough, One True had already put a block on her so that she'd sleep pleasantly through any noise and light we needed to make. "Yes, it's One True," the voice agreed, responding to my thought. "Do whatever you need to get comfortable and I'll talk to you in eight minutes and thirty seconds." "Eight and thirty," I said. In the back of my mind, my copy of Resuna started the countdown. I got out of bed. I sleep ten hours or more every night in winter, especially late winter. Not that I don't enjoy skiing, snowshoeing, hunting, ice fishing, and all, but at forty--nine years old, a few hours of anything outside tires me pleasantly out, and then a decent dinner, with a small glass of wine, and a good book after, usually put me out by eight or nine at night, and I get up with the sun, not before it. So from the way the full moon hung in the southwest, I guessed it was about five in the morning. Five eighteen a.m. , Resuna said in my mind. Seven minutes forty-four seconds remaining . I shook off the last drowsiness, climbed out of bed, and threw on a dressing robe and slippers, wincing at the way the cold hurts my bad toes these days--I had led a little too vigorous a life when I was younger, breaking most of my toes and getting a touch of frostbite a few times, so that between one thing and another, my toes are lim sensitive, and that cold floor just sets them off. I went into the bathroom and peed into the recycler, stretched a couple more times, and finally said aloud, "Bob, coffee now, please, and warm rolls for one in twenty minutes?" "Sweet or plain?" Bob asked. This was out of the household software's experience--Bob had been installed after I retired--and it wouldn't necessarily trust the data files it had copied from its predecessor. I took a moment to clarify--"Sweet. If I get a call that gets me up before sunrise, pritnear always, I'll want sweet rolls." I splashed some water on my face. Since I was up, Bob would already be warming my clothes for today, so I didn't bother with instructions about that. As I was buttoning my shirt, I could hear the gurgle and gush of coffee into the carafe, and by the time I got my shoes on-- one minute forty-four seconds to'go , Resuna assured me--I felt pretty decent. Resuna was grumbling, where I could just feel it, about having to adjust my serotonin levels when I was going to throw caffeine at my brain as well, but I knew perfectly well it could do that without any trouble. Your copy of Resuna picks up your traits to some extent, and I'm afraid I've always been a griper. I went to the kitchen to get my coffee. I didn't know why I was so sure this would have something to do with my old job. It could be something else. One True calls everyone a few times a year--always on your birthday, and on your region's Resuna Day, and then there's all the routine business stuff that everyone has to do--but something about this call had made me think at once that it would turn out to be about the old job. Three-Cur. He addressed me as Three-Cur . That was a nickname I hadn't heard since my days as a cowboy hunter. I got coffee from the kitchen, enjoyed the pleasant door of sweet rolls under way in the foodmaker, and went downstairs to the big room. In the moonlight, there was no need to turn on a light. I sat down and took that first long slow sip of coffee that helps a lifetime caffeine addict see that the universe, on the average, is a pretty good place. Aside from the moon and Orion, and a few scattered other stars, I could see no lights through the window. The dark rectangles and trapezoids of Sursumcorda lay far down the mountain from me, with no streetlights--no one was out, so they weren't turned on. Pritnear everyone in that little town sleeps like Mary and me in winter--we're a community of old-timers. I leaned way over sideways on the couch for an angle through the window. Just as always, I saw the bright tiny oval of Supra New York hanging in the sky. In all my eleven years on the job, I had seen SNY in the sky from camps in the wilderness just before I went to bed, and from canyons and mountaintops while I waited on stakeout, hundreds of times, and always taken comfort in the sight. Seven million people lived up there, nowadays, almost directly above Quito, Ecuador, all running Resuna, all part of One True like me. The wilderness just didn't seem as lonely, as long as I could see good old SNY I saluted seven million fellow citizens with my coffee cup. They didn't wave back, but I still knew they were there. I took another sip, sat and waited. Three-Cur . Nice that One True still remembered. I didn't really know what had possessed the woman who abandoned me at the Municipal Orphanage in Spokane Dome to name me Currie Curtis Curran, but at least it, had furnished an endless source of amusement, first to my squad mates back during the War of the Memes, and later to my team of cowboy hunters. "Bob, I'd like it a little warmer," I said, quietly, and felt the faint hum of the baseboard heaters an instant later. Was I more sensitive to temperature, or was it just unusually cold on the other side of the window? A moment later, Resuna told me that it was minus seventeen out there, quickly translating that to half a degree above zero, Fahrenheit, before I could ask. So it was cold for February, even up here. Year 26 was shaping up to be the coldest on record; supposedly that trend wouldn't begin to reverse till around Year 35. The meters-deep snow in the moonlight was crisp, with hints of pale blue, and wind-sculpted into knife-edges, untouched by anything more solid than a shadow. It was nice to sit and look and wait for things to begin. Just as Resuna counted off "zero," One True came back to me. "Look at your wall," One True said. I turned to look at the white wall. To download information to a copy of Resuna, and thus into the person running Resuna, One True must move so much information that polysensory ways are the only way of doing it in a reasonable time. It was like a vivid dream from which I would awaken knowing everything I needed to know, or like I would imagine a religious revelation would be, or like falling into some other life, or like being One True myself, for a few minutes. Once I woke up, I would have to talk, to One True and to my own copy of Resuna, to activate the knowledge. For the moment, though, it wasn't too different from being asleep, and for a cranky old guy like me, up too early on a February morning, that was pritnear perfect. Copyright © 2000 by John Barnes Excerpted from Candle by John Barnes All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.