Kaleidoscope Century (1995)

Backcover Synopsis: Joshua Ali Quare wakes in 2019 at the age of 140 in a strong youthful body with no memory of his past, to find he is at the center of a vast and deadly conspiracy. The only clues to his identity are the records he has left – messages from the man he once was… As Quare journeys through his past, he discovers he has been a key figure in the history of a turbulent, violent century – soldier, criminal, assassin, spy. A century filled with killing plagues and warring cults, ruthless corporations and dying nations. A century where treachery is often the only way to survive.

Now someone is looking for him. Someone from his past. And Quare must learn the terrifying secret of his history before it unleashed devastating consequences for the future of the human race.

KC is a brilliant book, but it is also a book that may be not easy to stomach for many people. The reason for this is that the main character does things in his life that are unredeemable evil from the POV of most people. Or to make it short, he is a human monster. But Barnes uses a clever trick to not immediately turn readers away, the main character like the reader begins at zero, not knowing who he is or why he is on Mars, not Earth. Slowly his past is revealed, and we learn not only about his personal history, but also about the things that happened in the last century on Earth, and the role the main character played in some of these events.

KC is the book that explains why the sequence is named “Century Next Door”, the book you have to read to understand the whole background. It’s excellent, but also one of the bleakest books I’ve read. I liked immensely, it’s not easy for an author to write something like this and still make it readable, but Barnes succeeds at it.