The Walls of the Universe

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Executed as a traitor usually [ Unified Europe five times out of twelve. Christ, a minor prophet for Mithras one in twenty times. How are these likelihoods and percentages possible, when the character has admitted there are some worlds beyond his access? And how can finite percentages be calculated for an infinite set? Again, a common-sense response may be that the calculations are simply based on mapped universes, but I raise these points as examples of where greater attention to detail might have aided the conceptual suspension of disbelief.

One of Melko's more curious notions is that of "singletons," people who are not endlessly repeated but rather exist only in one of all universes again, how this could be determined even in principle is not explained, but let's take it face value. This idea helps to crystallize the novel's theme of relative worth; an endless deck of universes highlights the absurdity of attachment to materially "precious" objects or wealth.

As Grace, one of John's friends in his new universe, points out,. The only good is personal happiness. Applying this same concept to people and therefore treating them as things leads to the villain's claim that not being a "singleton" is sufficient justification for murder, one of their many moral undoings. Interestingly, Singularity's Ring presented a compelling vision of individuality subsuming into a collective form of consciousness as a positive adaptation; those excluded from the gestalt pods were also referred to as "singletons.

Melko unabashedly tells a story of Adventure in which guile, as well as faith in the power of science, save the day.

Four walls and Rest of the universe

In fact, this becomes one of the novel's more charming motifs, alluding to the innocence of SF stories from the Golden Age in which an engineer with soldering tools, given enough patience and determination, could unravel the secrets of an alien civilization. There are also several references to science-fiction stories, highlighting that this story is a knowing tribute to prior works.

It's also an irredeemably optimistic tale, but considering the scarcity of such among modern-day SF novels, that's not entirely unwelcome. Gary K. Wolfe, reviewing this novel in the January issue of Locus , writes that it is "as compelling as it is unchallenging, and exactly the sort of thing you can hand to a non-SF reader with confidence.

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Melko's narrative does keep the pages turning, but the experience is not satisfying on an aesthetic level. I would hesitate to recommend this to an SF novice because of the craft issues I've pointed out. If I were looking to pass on a novel to a non-SF reader that deals with a young person who has an interest in physics and comes across a device that allows jumps in this case in time , I would recommend Joe Haldeman's The Accidental Time Machine It is better-written and, come to think of it, also has a machine that only works in the forward direction.

For an SF-savvy reader, though, looking for old-fashioned, adolescent derring-do and those qualifications may define a smaller subset of readers than I would have hoped for in the case of Melko's second novel , The Walls of the Universe will provide a worthwhile trip. Alvaro Zinos-Amaro grew up in Europe, mostly, and despite the advice of his betters he was crazy enough to earn a BS in Theoretical Physics and study creative writing.

Alvaro's reviews of speculative fiction and poetry appear regularly at The Fix , and critical reviews and essays have also appeared in Fruitless Recursion and the Internet Review of Science Fiction. Visit him at his blog, Waiting for My Aineko. It's not the kind of visual style that appeals to me either, but I think it is kind of effective in conveying the "old-fashioned-ness" of the text. You have a strange definition of young.

WALLS OF THE UNIVERSE by Paul Melko | Kirkus Reviews

You want to inflict boringarse academic politics on kids now? That's only young if you are 50 or something, in that sense. The concept of rare "singletons" occurring in parallel universes is quite a familiar one to readers of Diana Wynne Jones' Chrestomanci books. Blue, You're right. At the novel's outset his problems girlfriend breakup, aimless drifting etc. I suppose my "young person" bias is that I tend to think of anyone 25 or under as in the group, but I can see how most people would think of it as meaning younger than that.

Boring academic politics? Donna, Thanks for the mention. I'm not familiar with the Chrestomanci series but that concept certainly sounds similar. Which book would you recommend starting with to a first-time reader?

Charmed Life maybe? Donna, I'm curious, who are some of your favorite recent authors, or recent books you've enjoyed?

The Walls of the Universe, by Paul Melko (MPL Book Trailer #95)

Very witty and imaginative steampunk -- he's updated the Victorian boy's adventure story. The Powers book is enjoyable, the VanderMeer is harder to like. Not as entertaining as its predecessor. Generally, I read more fantasy than SF, and I love being entertained and hate being lectured. By 'entertain' I don't mean to imply only light or humorous work, BTW.

If a novel tries to educate me, it better have some strong and convincing drama going on, too. Many SF writers have a tough time with that. I found your review pretentious and ridiculous. You could have pointed out numerous real mistakes such as using the word plain instead of plane. Instead you focus on some repetitive language spoken by a character. Dude, you seriously need to start hanging out with people. People speak in repetitive patterns. People write in repetitive patterns. In fact everything people do is typically done in predictable patterns.

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The writer actually created realistic characters and that makes the book suck. Oh, and the cover does suck. I think the book has a lot of potential for a sequel. I recently posted my review and Melko was kind enough to comment a little about the future of his multi-verse.


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Mad Hatter, Thanks for sharing your blog review and pointing us to Melko's comments on his future plans for this series. I agree that there's a lot of potential for further adventures in this multiverse, and I look forward to answers to the questions raised in this first volume. You must log in to post a comment.


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Alvaro Zinos-Amaro. Issue: 16 February Share this: Facebook Twitter Print Email. Like this: Like Loading About Alvaro Zinos-Amaro. Jonathan M. February 16, at pm. One thing's for sure, the cover is absolutely hideous. Blue Tyson. February 17, at pm. February 18, at am. February 18, at pm.


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By the way, I think the cover is quite good. February 21, at pm. March 24, at am.

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