The Merchants of Souls

The Merchants of Souls

infobox Book |
name = The Merchants of Souls
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = First edition
author = John Barnes
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series = Thousand Cultures series
genre = Science fiction novel
publisher = Tor Books
release_date = 1999
english_release_date =
media_type = Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
pages =
isbn = ISBN 0765303302
preceded_by =
followed_by = The Armies of Memory
"The Merchants of Souls" (2002) is a science fiction novel, the third book of the "Thousand Cultures" series, by John Barnes whose story is told from the perspective of a middle-aged special agent named Giraut. "The Merchants of Souls" examines consumerism when Earth demands access to other peoples psypyxes, which are personality/memory recordings used solely as a backup in case of death. The decadent people of Earth want to use the psypyx personality recordings for entertainment - essentially resurrecting their experiences while denying them the quality of free will.

Plot summary


* Giraut - An experienced agent and musician from Nou Occitan who was brought back from leave to address a new threat to personal liberties.
* Raimbaut - A long-dead friend of Giraut, whose psypyx is installed in Giraut's brain as a witness against commercialization of psypyxes.
* Laprada - A young new female OSP agent, a member of the Council of Humanity, granddaughter of a hero; love interest to Raimbaut.
* Dji - elder OSP supervisor to Giraut, Laprada, Piranesi, and Paxa.
* Shan - elder OSP supervisor and friend to Giraut, Margaret, Qrala, Paxa, Piranesi, and other OSP agents.
* Piranesi & Paxa - Military husband and artistic wife; both are OSP agents from Hedon, the so-called "Pleasure Culture".
* Margaret - Giraut's ex-wife from Caledony, the culture where they met and fell in love, and then both chose to join the OSP.
* Qrala - an elder experienced OSP agent; a contemporary of Shan and Dji.

Planets referenced

* Earth -- the home planet of Humanity in the Inner Sphere; the Sol System with its local colonized planets and their satellites, both natural and artificial; also the colonies of Alpha Centauri and other neighboring star systems.
* Hedon (pleasure planet, where Giraut goes on vacation).
* Caledony (Margaret's home planet; one other culture called St. Michael's shares the planet peacefully).
* Nou Occitan (Giraut's home planet) - one of the few colony planets that had no other human culture seeded because of its unusual orbit around Arcturus, and its scarcity of land (according to the rules of the Charter).
* Briand (a high-gravity planet orbiting a bright star, where two human literary cultures were seeded, and clashed, and eventually destroyed each other); described in "Earth Made of Glass".
* Freiporto (a criminal culture where strength was the only law, and slavery was its currency, until the evil was corrected).

Literary significance & criticism

ee also

* Interstellar teleporter
* "Tunnel in the Sky"
* "Gridlinked";Other books in this series
* "A Million Open Doors" (1992)
* "Earth Made of Glass" (1999)
* "The Armies of Memory" (2006)

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