A review by John for: The Broken Universe (Universe 2) ~ by Paul Melko
A highly creative and unusual science fiction thriller that spans a multitude of parallel universes and revolves around a whole host of doppelgängers.
About: John Rayburn has come into possession of technology that allows him to travel into parallel universes – and finds that there are a multitude of them; some similar to his own and some very different. In the similar universes he often finds that there are different versions of himself and his closest friends. These doppelgängers are like identical twins; they are the same in almost every way with only subtle differences marking them apart. But just occasionally, the differences are more fundamental.
John, his friends and a group of their doppelgängers set up the first transdimensional company, exploiting minor differences between technologies, products and events in the multiple universes in order to build a business empire. But their travels and exploits in the multiverse start to garner unwanted attention from other transdimensional travellers.
At first it is the Alarians who cause the Johns and their friends the most trouble. They have been trapped in a single universe and they are desperate to get their hands on John’s multiverse travelling technology. But just as the Johns seem to be getting the upper hand with the evil Alarians, the mysterious and all-powerful Vig appear on the scene, and they appear to be hell-bent on stopping anyone from travelling between universes.
John’s thoughts: It’s always nice to come across a plot which is totally different from anything you’ve ever read before, and The Broken Universe is just that. It’s different, highly imaginative, creative and fun. The story includes some really neat concepts about the “multiverse” which makes for a nice twisty storyline.
I really like the idea of John and his friends setting up business with their “twins” from multiple universes, and seeing how the almost identical groups interact with each other. So high marks for creativity, uniqueness and a complex plot.
Where it fell down a bit for me was with the villains in the story – they were a bit two-dimensional and not very believable. While John and his close friends were well-developed characters, their foes were like something out of a comic book. This led to some of the main events and action sequences being a bit unsatisfying somehow.
Nonetheless I enjoyed the read and loved some of the ideas that Melko developed. I’d rate this as 3 stars and recommend it to anyone who likes a classic science fiction read.
Tor Books; June 2012; Hardcover; 384 pages.
This book is the second in a series. The first book is The Walls of the Universe, which was nominated for the Sturgeon, Nebula, and Hugo Awards in 2007.
Here is a bit about the first book in the series via the publisher’s blurb:
John Rayburn thought all of his problems were the mundane ones of an Ohio farm boy in his last year in high school. Then his doppelgänger appeared, tempted him with a device that let him travel across worlds, and stole his life from him. John soon finds himself caroming through universes, and, when the device breaks, unable to return home. John settles in a new universe to unravel the machine’s secrets and fix it.
Meanwhile, his doppelgänger tries to exploit the commercial technology he’s stolen from other Earths: the Rubik’s Cube! John’s attempts to lie low in his new universe backfire when he inadvertently introduces pinball. It becomes a huge success. Both actions draw the notice of other, more dangerous travelers, who are exploiting worlds for ominous purposes.
For more about the author Paul Melko link to his website: http://www.paulmelko.com/