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Interworld by Neil Gaiman

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Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves is a new sci-fi title that is reminiscent of lots of other ground, while being decidedly new. Once upon a time, Gaiman and Reaves got an idea for a television show. Kind of like The Bourne Identity meets Quantum Leap meets Labyrinth, but with teenagers. Not that, of course, obviously. Maybe more like Back to the Future meets Firefly meets Star Wars. With Tesseracts, like in A Wrinkle in Time. Well, not that either, really. Like the Twilight Zone, only it's one big story, not a bunch of short ones? Television execs couldn't really get a handle on the idea, and so the show never materialized in television form. But I've read a book that contains what would have been the pilot episode, and it's an excellent show.

Interworld tells the story of Joey Harker, a seemingly ordinary high school sophomore in Greenville with a widely known inability to figure out how to get from point A to point B. When Joey gets lost during a civics field trip, he really gets lost. Crossing the street through some fog, Joey manages to cross into an alternate world. One where the McDonalds outlet has a tartan (shades of Coming to America!), and emergency lights flash green and yellow instead of red and blue. Inside what should be his house he finds a girl his age who looks much like him, and a mother who looks like his, but has an artificial arm. Joey finds himself the target of a guy named Jay, who wears what appears to be a liquid metal suit, as well as a bunch of folks on flying discs.

I'm not going too much further into the actual plot points here because it will get long and complicated quickly. Suffice it to say that Joey Harker is what is known in the Altiverse as a Walker. (I'll get back to the Altiverse in a tick.) A Walker is able to navigate his or her way through the various dimensions and enter all the various earths in the Altiverse. Some of the earths are controlled by a science, some by magic, and most are in flux. The guys on discs I referenced earlier work for the Binary. There are creepy folks (witches, tattoed jelly men and more) who work for HEX, the magical counterpart to the Binary. The Binary and HEX each seek to dominate the Altiverse, and to get around, they both rely on the power found within the Walkers to power their ships, meaning that Walkers are always in danger of capture. In between the worlds is, well, the In-Between, where other beings exist as well, including multi-dimensional life forms (MDLFs, usually called mudluffs), and there's also a large amount of space that constitutes the Nowhere-at-All.

Joey Harker must deal with his knowledge that he's a Walker and must decide whether to join the Interworld, an organization that struggles to maintain the balance between science and magic in the Altiverse. Interworld is composed of about five hundred alternate versions of Joey Harker - some male, some female, some from magical worlds (with possible fur, wings, and powers) and some from scientific worlds (with possible artificial parts).

Oh, and the Altiverse? Let's just say that Gaiman and Reaves have accepted the premise that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and that they've run with it. Worlds are created within the Altiverse every time an important decision is made. Thus, a decision to invade Iraq (if it's an important decision) would give rise to a world in which Iraq was not invaded. Only important decisions aren't always big and obvious like that, exactly, but it's enough of a description for you to get the idea.

How will Joey fare in the Altiverse? You'll have to watch the pilot — er, make that read the book — to find out. Highly recommended for sci-fi fans, although it does straddle the sci-fi/fantasy hurdle with its mixture of science and magic. Not just the story, either, but the writing itself, is a combination of the two. As for me, I'm waiting for the next episode/volume. I sure hope there's going to be one.

ETA: This review was taken nearly verbatim from my blog post on October 27th.
#1 - November 04, 2007, 09:52 AM
« Last Edit: November 04, 2007, 09:57 AM by kellyr »


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