Planesrunner by Ian McDonald
Everett Singh's father is kidnapped right in front of him. Turns out, Papa Singh was working on a project involving parallel universes and has left Everett the Infundibulum, the map of 10 to the 80th power parallel universes. Only other people are after it and Everett leaps through the Heisenberg Gate to another world, a world of airships where electricity was discovered much earlier. Can Everett evade the bad apples in the Plenitude long enough to bring back his father home?
I love wibbly wobbly timey wimey parallel universe stories so this one was an easy sell for me. I'll cover the parts I liked first before I turn into Ebenezer Scrooge and crap all over the rest of it.
The worldbuilding was exquisite. I liked the setup of the ten worlds of the Plenitude and the Panopoly, the multitude of parallel universes and traveling between them using Heisenberg Gates. I have no trouble believing corrupt people would exploit parallel universes for personal gain. The parallel earth Everett visits was also well thought out. A world were electricity is discovered sooner and thus the world doesn't become dependent on oil? Pretty cool. Sen and Captain Anastasia were both interesting supporting characters, more interesting to me than Everett.
And here is the wad of dog hair in the omelet. I'm just going to gloss over the fact that 90% of parallel Londons in sf/fantasy literature feature airships and just get right to it. Everett was such a Gary Stu that I wanted to shake the crap out of him. Not only is he a teenage quantum physics genius, able to solve problems the adult scientists have been working on for years in just hours, he's also a great cook. Really? I know that's a staple of YA but it was still irksome.
I guess my main hang up with this book was that I've read similar books in the past and didn't feel like this one brought anything super awesome to the table. I preferred the two Paul Melko books, Walls of the Universe and Broken Universe, to this one.
Three stars. It was fun and had some good world building but wasn't the five-geared awesome machine that I was hoping for.
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