Iris (1990)

When the mysterious world Iris with its moons enters the solar system, a ragtag group of misfits change their course to explore it, and maybe even use it to create a new place to call home. But what they find deep inside of Iris is beyond all their expectations.

The typical character in a Barton novel is one who always asks himself: Why am I doing this? Is this me? Is this what I want? And even when he reaches a sort of epiphany, soon he is back to his old, questioning self, never sure of other people or himself. Always trying to decipher whether such things as love or trust or friendship are real, or just beliefs we make up to feel better about us.

Reading about such characters is exhausting, because if you really act like this all the time, madness is slowly but steadily approaching. Sometimes believing in things, even if they are stupid, makes us sane. The characters, their interactions with each others and flashbacks into their pasts, makes up a big chunk of Iris.

The other is the exploration of the artifact on Iris and the near future setting Barton and Capobianco have crafted. The world is connected by an all encompassing computer network that can be accessed via mind-machine interfaces and even human mind transfers are possible, even if they are not legal. All this isn’t presented from the get go, but neatly integrated into the rest of the story, and collecting all the tiny references to understand how this future differs from our present is part of the fun.

Overall Iris is a great novel, with only some small problems. At the begin of the novel it’s really hard to distinguish between the different characters, and the later revelations about Iris’s secret should have created more awe in me than they did. But overall, this is an excellent book not to be missed.