The Walls of the Universe
The Walls of the Universe
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Annotation: John Rayburn discovers many universes to visit, many versions of himself--and many dangers.
Catalog Number: #5673416
Format: Paperback
All Formats: Search
Publisher: TOR Books
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition Date: 2012
Pages: 384
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-7653-3744-4
ISBN 13: 978-0-7653-3744-3
Dewey: Fic
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Ohio farmboy John Rayburn is a high-school senior with relatively mundane concerns when, claiming to be from an alternate universe, his doppelganger, John Prime, shows up. The temptation to try out Prime's universe-surfing device proves too great to resist, but, unfortunately, John discovers too late what Prime neglected to mention, that the thing works only one-way. Prime moved quite comfortably, into John's life, with grand plans to market something his universe has and John's doesn't, a Rubik's cube. Meanwhile, John has found a universe remarkably like his home, minus a version of himself, and enrolls at the University of Toledo as a physics major, figuring he'll eventually be able to reverse-engineer the device. He accidentally invents pinball, which, thanks to his lab partners' entrepreneurial genius, is a big hit. But unsavory sorts know it didn't originate in this universe. Thrills ensue, for both John and Prime have attracted dangerous attention from other travellers between universes. Melko handles the struggles of young adulthood and universe-spanning conflict with equal vigor in this wildly entertaining yarn.
Kirkus Reviews
Alternate-worlds jaunt from the author of Singularity's Ring (2008). Uncomplicated Ohio farm boy John Rayburn's goal is to study physics at college—until another John Rayburn shows up. John's rather battered-looking double explains that he carries a device that allows him to travel between alternate universes. The double—Prime—shows John designs for some moneymaking devices (like Rubik's Cube) that don't exist in John's world. The travel device seems simple enough to operate, and John agrees to try it. Bingo! The device works, but with one fatal flaw—John can't return home. Prime, obviously, knew the device was broken and conned John in order to steal his life. After various adventures in other worlds, John decides to settle down in an acceptable world and learn physics, with the eventual goal of repairing the device. Meanwhile, Prime runs into difficulties: he marries the girl of his dreams, Casey Nicholson, after getting her pregnant, while his plan to sell millions of "Rayburn's Cubes" runs into legal problems, and Ted Carson, the local bully, causes trouble. In his new home, meanwhile, John studies physics, enjoys an on-again, off-again relationship with alternate Casey, steers clear of another Ted—and almost against his will, finds that he's "invented" pinball, which is unknown there. John's variation of the game proves a big hit, but attracts attention from a ruthless community of exiled travelers, who also make money by introducing unknown technology—and will stop at nothing to obtain a device to enable them to return home. Well executed but all too familiar, with a late plot twist suggesting it will mutate into an interworld hunter-killer series. Your move.
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly

Melko (Singularity's Ring) sends a naïve high school senior on a sharply imagined trip across divergent time lines in an adventure with both brains and heart. John Rayburn is approached by John Prime, another universe's version of himself, who lends him a device that permits travel to parallel worlds. John realizes he's been tricked when he can't get back home. He stops in an almost-familiar universe to analyze the device and return to his own world, where John Prime is trying to get rich quick by “inventing” gadgets that his new home lacks. Soon the two are making friends and putting down roots, each discovering that he carries his own fundamentally empathetic, responsible personality from one universe to another. With imagination and sympathy, Melko makes the journey genuinely exciting and leaves plenty of room for future exploits. (Feb.)

Reading Level: 4.1
Interest Level: 9+

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, unable to return home-the device is broken. John settles in a new universe to unravel its 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. Fast-paced and exciting, this is SF adventure at its best from a rising star.

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