Science Fiction novel by John Barnes. * * * * (explanation)

Young Jak Jinnaka has just escaped from gen school and gotten his feets in modern society. Toktru, he paid more attention to girls and getting into trouble than he did his books, and his grades weren't good enough to get him into the Public Service Academy. But his Uncle Sib has trained him in the Disciplines and he's a good enough kid. Jak's thinking about the Army. This impresses Uncle Sib.

But disaster (of a sort) strikes: Jak's demmy Sesh is kidnapped right before his eyes, and when he tries to come to her rescue, Jak is beaten into a bloody pulp. Sesh turns out to be a Princess from a faraway space habitat. She's been kidnapped by the Duke of Uranium, who wants to marry her to take over her realm. Uncle Sib turns out to be a secret agent who's been training Jak to follow in his footsteps. In fact, Uncle Sib thinks that Jak is the ideal person to go rescue the Princess. Jak falls for it, hook, line, and sinker. Little does he know what's in store.

John Barnes constructs a 37th Century that is interesting enough to keep you reading the whole book. Earth pockmarked by interstellar war, huge space habitats at Earth's Trojan points, refugees from the defeated alien race inhabiting Pluto. And you'll be thinking in 37th century slang by the end of the book, toktru.

The Duke of Uranium is, first and foremost, a whole lot of fun, a Boys' Own Adventure that'll remind you of early Robert Heinlein; there are enough gadgets (and physics) to satisfy any Larry Niven fan, and enough Really Big Things to satisfy any Iain M. Banks fan. Where I have praised other books for not being a group of bored teenagers' trip to the mall, The Duke of Uranium derives its strength from being precisely that. In fact, much of the action takes place at the mall. Jak and his toves save the Universe...well, sort of....

Unlikely plot twists? So what? Sit back, enjoy, and don't think too hard.

After that, begin reading the sequel, A Princess of the Aerie.