This book is from the late 80s at the earliest; I read it around 1988). Here is the synopsis:

A young man on the cusp of becoming an adult is to take a test mandated by the Empire (Emperor) called the Fortune Hunter Test or something. Basically it is a test that is supposed to set you on your life path and some 'very lucky' people who pass it are taken to special schools and never seen again but assumed to be filthy rich or whatever.

The kid takes test and is one of the lucky ones and they take him through a matter transmitter called an MT Screen or Empty Screen. It is gray and opaque. The kid is (fuzzy on this part, as I was like 11 or something and sick) rescued or escapes or something and goes on the run after realizing that the Emperor is actually culling out the people who are lucky or smart enough to threaten his reign.

The kid ends up fighting the for a rebel group that is part of an interstellar circus or something as a cover. They have all this tech based on the matter transmitters including a MT cube that is basically projected around the person as a shield but can have the walls removed so they can be shot then have them pop back into existence to protect the person inside. Also the mt screen can be weaponized as it instantaneously transmits matter that it touches to another place and can therefore be used as a slicer to remove parts of people or whatnot (Kind of violent theoretically, but not really that bloody).

At one point the kid is trying to get past a security checkpoint and the ringmaster (I think) gives him the identity Asa Baqua (spelling?) who we later find out was his child who maybe passed the fortune hunters test before, and disappeared, giving the ringmaster (weird word but that is what I remember) a reason to fight against the emperor.

Anyway, it was teen fiction or sci fi/fantasy and I loved the story but only read it once forever ago. If anyone can figure out this book or remembers having read it please let me know!

  • This looks similar. It doesn;t have an answer, but it may have some additional helpful information.
    – Adamant
    Jun 25, 2016 at 6:42
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    Is it scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/128928/… ?
    – jcm
    Jun 25, 2016 at 7:06
  • As a gold-badge user, I can immediately close this as a Duplicate, and I am 100% certain that this one is a duplicate, but if you agree with me that that's the answer, please click on the checkmark for the answer below just so that we have it registered that you got your answer.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jun 25, 2016 at 13:37
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    As policy (meta.scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/7065/…), I should not have closed this as there is no confirmation from this querent that it is the right one. It is, almost beyond a shadow of a doubt, but the querent did not accept it. :)
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jun 27, 2016 at 16:39
  • 1
    @FuzzyBoots It's more or less accepted now - the comment left by the OP is enough for you to dupe-close this question according to policy :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jul 5, 2016 at 21:43

1 Answer 1


This is definitely a duplicate of Young adult book, read in the 1990s, about a young boy who is inherently lucky who breaks a testing unit, i.e., Donald Wismer's Starluck. I actually just finished reading it yesterday. It has the Imperially mandated fortune test. The trip through the MT is after his initial escape (via blaster malfunction) and by his choice (albeit heavily implied to be via his luckiness). He does join what seems to be an interstellar circus, but is actually a faction of the "Bel" group, rebels to the Empire, run by the ringmaster, Ahm Baqa. He does indeed get said identity, and the last third or so of the book is dedicated to the Bels having perfected the MT and how they're weaponizing it against the Empire.

The other element, which I neglected to add when I asked about it, is that they all train in "Sh't'kan K'rati", which is an incredibly deadly (and illegal) martial art that is clearly just regular Shotokan Karate, something the author is trained in.

Starluck cover

  • I have been trying to accept this but have been unable to figure out how to do so. Obviously a new user. Thanks for your answer and your patience.
    – user68463
    Jul 5, 2016 at 20:27
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    @PernicioustheGray So you have been locked out of your account? Account recovery is here. If you want to merge this with your old account (probably not necessary) see here.
    – Adamant
    Jul 5, 2016 at 20:34
  • @PernicioustheGray In order to accept, one must click the checkmark to the left of the answer. However, given that you created another account, you will need to regain access to your original one if you want to accept.
    – Adamant
    Jul 5, 2016 at 20:36
  • @PernicioustheGray For future reference, now that you have more than 20 reputation (assuming you can recover your original account), you can discuss this (and other things) in chat. Often there will be someone there who can help you.
    – Adamant
    Jul 5, 2016 at 21:14
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    @PernicioustheGray If you're the same person who asked the question, you can merge your two user accounts by following the instructions here. Then you'll regain access to the account you used to ask the question, which will enable you to accept FuzzyBoots's answer by clicking the checkmark on the left.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jul 5, 2016 at 21:39

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