The Broken Universe by Paul Melko

‘The Broken Universe’ is the third and appears final book in Paul Melko’s series. For those who missed the earlier two, their titles are: ‘Singularity’s Ring’ and ‘The Walls Of The Universe’, both reviewed on SFC. I was a little concerned that there was no recap at the beginning of the book but Melko skilfully brought things up to date or rather triggered all the things I needed to remember where I was from the previous book.

Melko’s reality is actually a multiverse. With the use of a device to live on an alternate Earth, John Rayburn, Henry Quayle and Grace Shisler have made and sold pinball machines to build their fortunes and also to create non-mobile versions of their transport machine. Unfortunately, they aren’t the only ones and the small number of Alarians who’ve bought shares in their company and while stranded are determined to get the device back. This is only one of the problems the trio in ten multiples have to sort. Probably the most dangerous being the ruthless Vigilari, who see themselves as the multiverse police force. It is only on one thing that they are definitely right over and that is the passage of germs between realities and they can be a real killer.

In many respects, Melko is taking a realistic touch to this novel. I mean, if you had such a device and were effectively not very wealthy, wouldn’t you being thinking of self-interest first rather than exploring or world-saving? I mean, you can’t live off nothing at all and these devices components aren’t cheap, let alone a need to keep them out of sight.

As such, this story has a firm foot in reality and could even be used as a template if such an opportunity existed, although hopefully not with some of the threats they have. Melko hasn’t had the characters travel too far from realities that are too close to their own which allows them to exploit minor differences between the Earths than major changes. It also brings a whole new way of trusting yourself when meeting yourselves in different realties. Things aren’t helped when one of the John’s often puts self-interest against that of the group.

You would think a book so grounded would make for a dull read, let alone keeping up with which is which but Melko knows how to make a page-turner, making this an interesting book. I do wonder if he’s planning any more books in this series as he’s brought in a conclusion but left other problems up in the air. Nevertheless, if you’ve bought the previous two books, you will want to know what happens next. Don’t leave home without your iaciorator.

GF Willmetts
August 2012

(pub: TOR/Forge. 384 page small hardback. Price: $27.99 (US), $31.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-2914-1)

check out website: www.tor-forge.com

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