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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

Down The Bright Way

Copyright 1991 by Robert Reed

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Mediocre (2/5)

I first read this on the 10th November 2002.

There are millions, perhaps an infinity, of parallel earths, each in its own universe, each connected to the next by portals that allow you to step across into the next universe.

Down this magnificent chain of worlds the Wanderers travel, bringing civilisation and peace to humanity in all it's varied forms across all the inhabited Earths. The Wanderers have been travelling on this mission for a million years. they are millions strong, and quietly confident in their superior technology, in the eventual success of their mission, and in the ultimate conclusion of their quest to find the makers of this universe-spanning wonder.

Meanwhile on a Earth remarkably like our own, Kyle is exploring this world, amazing the locals with his knowledge of other Earths and pleasing them with his tolerance and friendliness. He's particularly friendly with the young, beautiful and innocent Billie.

Billie wants him to introduce her to Jy, the ancient leader and founder of the Wanderer organisation, and that has got Kyle particularly worried for reasons that he'd prefer not to think about.

And while these human affairs are occurring, there's matters of greater import afoot. There's a terrible evil that's been discovered on a far distant world, a tenacious and deadly evil that may spread down the chain of parallel Earths. Conjoined humanity is at risk, the connections between the worlds threatened, and a million years of work at risk.

Kyle and Billie will be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they'll be caught up in the last-ditch fight to prevent an apocalypse. With them will be Jy, the founder, and Quence, one of her most trusted lieutenants. But this is not the ideal team to battle an ultimate evil. Jy is old and very tired, Quence doubts his beliefs and has lost his sense of purpose, and Kyle and Billie are two naive, scared innocents.

I was absolutely knocked out by Robert Reed's "Marrow" and I was embarrassed that I had completely missed his earlier work. I was expecting great things when I read this novel from almost ten years earlier. However, it's not as good. it's got the scale of "Marrow" and to some extent the sense of wonder, but it lacks the excitement and tension. His writing skills have clearly improved over the past ten years. Now finally I also remember reading "Black Milk" about which I can currently remember very little, but clearly didn't imprint itself noticeably on my memory. So my conclusion is that Mr Reed is getting better and better. I will be very excited to read his next novel.

Loaded on the 30th November 2002.
Cover of Down The Bright Way
Cover art by Shusei

Reviews of other works by Robert Reed:
Black Milk
Sister Alice
The Well Of Stars