Her name is Summer, yet she is a Dame of Fall. Like a deciduous autumn tree, her understated stateliness, firm and reaching upward, presides over her russet hair, and ivory skin in the same way branches undergird similarly colored leaves. Like those leaves, she presents shades of being that detach and give way to the next, hues hewn from her spirit in much the same way she has hewn her thick, flowing hair to herald her ever-active emancipation from the Summer before, a sacrifice descending like leaves to the Earth to nourish the next stage of stately growth, forever firm and reaching upward, seeking the Summer elements from which to again flower verdantly toward the burst of colors she will release and from which she will derive sustenance, the sustenance of her own power.
InterWorld tells the story of Joey Harker, a very average kid who discovers that his world is only one of a trillion alternate earths. Some of these earths are ruled by magic. Some are ruled by science. All are at war.
Joey teams up with alternate versions of himself from an array of these worlds. Together, the army of Joeys must battle evil magicians Lord Dogknife and Lady Indigo to keep the balance of power between all the earths stable.
I ran across Interworldat the library by accident, and picked it up because it had Neil Gaiman‘s name on the front, one of my favorite writers. I hadn’t heard of the co-author, Michael Reaves, ostensibly because I never got around to reading the novelizations of the Star Wars expanded universe, to which he contributed. I opened the book because I wondered, how would the distinct style of Gaiman blend with this as-yet-unknown-to-me other author?
Pretty nicely, it turns out.
The narrative unfolds in a quick, no-fluff fashion, following a particularly sensible main character, Joey Harker, who couldn’t find his way out of a wet paper sack but has the special ability to Walk between the trillions of alternate earths within the Alterverse. Despite its size, this small book manages to squeeze in a solid adventure and significant character development for both the main character and his companions, as well as his enemies. It also handles the various explanations of the Alterverse and the concept of transdimensional passage with a blithe, joking tone that makes such complicated concepts both simple and amusing.
I have one problem with the alignment of the main characters. They are so predictably ‘good’ that one of them even says the phrase, “We don’t gloat. We’re the good guys.” I find such a sentiment both unrelatable and desperate for challenge, because that level of certainty flirts with the sort of hubris displayed by most villains. I hope very much that this deep-seated conviction will be shaken sometime in the next two books. However, I appreciate that Joey Harker not only makes serious, life-costing mistakes, but suffers the consequences of his actions. So much so that at one point in the story, he winds up even further back than square one.
Overall, I’d suggest this as a good book for juvenile readers who like sci-fi and fantasy.
From the cold sprang everything, to the cold all will return. She is that ending, where the end goes on forever. Point zero. Circular. A Russian winter, where powerful bears slumber. Vast as the arctic sea, fathomless as starry space. A cool look from her will stop armies in their tracks. Men fear nothing more than the creeping chill in her blood.
Frosty breath and ice chips for eyes. A ruinous smile, the sort to freeze your heart. Hers is a slow takeover, a silent war, filled with icicle teeth and ruthlessness. No stopping her ascension—she’s already buried her enemies beneath shrouds of snow. Stand aside, if you wish to live.
What powers her is this: a strange blue flower, one whose petals she gives to those she loves. These and the flower itself generate warmth, for they are her true heart. We keep our petals hidden close, to protect ourselves from harm. If you seek this warmth yourself, you must trek across miles of tundra. But should you survive, earning her trust is a gift as unique as a snowflake, well worth the journey.
‘Long hair and glasses?’ Pfft. That description could fit anyone. Try phoenix hair and plum lipstick, metal in her lip, ink on her skin. Confident swagger; cold, challenging gaze. War paint and armor.
In nature, bright colors signify danger. Poison. She’s just as hard to miss and her aim’s deadly and true. If you cut yourself on her sharp tongue, you have no one to blame but yourself. She did warn you.
With her, you’ll find yourself on uneven ground. Unbalanced, untethered… unresistant to her charming laughter and playful banter. Watch yourself, for if you linger, you won’t leave. Won’t mind, either, because when she counts you as a friend, you have no better place to be.
There’s a difference between her and autumn sunsets, though. Sunsets vanish and autumn dies, unremembered. But she… she is unforgettable.
His was a higher calling, the unrelenting drive to solve the crossword puzzle of reality. He was characterized by disillusionment, a clear-eyed inspection and dismissal of the aspects of life that ultimately didn’t matter. A smelting of excess dross down to a heart of the purest precious metal. He had an uncompromising prioritization of himself that didn’t exclude others. Be you, for he will be him. He demanded distinction, greatness, exceptionality. In many cases, he got it, because he not only convinced you that you could be more, achieve more, touch the very stars themselves, but that you would. Prepare yourself for a sharpening of the mind, for if he’s thought you through and discovered your essence, he will not leave you alone to rust.
His heart was made for the open road, a testament to a time when brave folks crossed vast wildernesses with no promise of refuge on the other side. I often passed him on some forgotten highway or other, the black tarmac stretching toward the horizon in either direction. Empty countryside all around. He’d be cruising along on his steel horse, throwing a wave my way with dark exhaust marking his progress against the open sky. Or he’d be parked up on the shoulder a ways from the road, campfire blazing beneath a night full of stars, companions all around. Like one of those cowboys back in the day, he was prepared to go great distances pursuing the journey of knowing himself and God’s purpose for him. Well-traveled and the wiser for the wandering.
You could say she was the glue that held things together, because she had a way of seeing which folks belonged where and setting them in their rightful places. Which was to say, connecting them to each other and keeping them that way. But glue can dissolve and hers was a more permanent effect than that. She had the deft finesse of a needle and thread, stitching along the jagged edges of torn up bits of fabric. When she was done piecing the disparate qualities of her friends together, I could see her vision in the whole—a smooth, harmonious quilt, ragged sides lined up with their uneven matches. The only distraction was the stitches, gone every which way in the quest to sew up the most wayward of tears. But this resulted in a marvelous, complex design, unique in its lack of repeating patterns. That essence, her creativity and her commitment, was what made the entire cloth beautiful.