Phillip Jose Farmer
Rating: Borrow, Local Library
I know that I review quite a few older works, usually out of print, well this time at least the book is available as part of an omnibus edition. As a matter of fact the entire series is available in two omnibus editions. I'm fortunate in that I first read The Maker of Universes while I was in public school and the local library had most of the series. Eventually I found some of the books in a used bookstore and added them to the large collection of books that causes all those long-suffering sighs from Mrs. Bugbear.
Farmer has written some interesting books, Riverworld and the World of Tier series I think are his best but Dayworld also deserves honorable mention. The Maker of Universes is the first of the world of Tiers which comprises seven books published from 1965 through 1993. Farmer writes soft sci-fi or as I like to call it, fantasy in space.
Beware of the Spoilers:
The plot begins as a retired languages professor and his wife look at a new house. While looking at the basement alone a gate to another world opens and a man hurls a horn through the gate before it collapses. Eventually the professor works up the nerve to use the horn to open a gate and he enters the appropriately named world of tiers. Mr. Heinlein once observed "any sufficiently advanced technology appears as magic" and that is the tact Farmer takes hence my fantasy in space label. Farmer doesn't explain the science as he constructs a world like the hanging gardens of Babylon complete with a tower of Babel reaching up to heaven.
Farmer spends a bit to much time glossing over dialog preferring to show the opening of the dialog and then simply summing up the second half of the conversation with nary a quotation mark in sight. This is perhaps the greatest fault in the book this parsimonious-ness of palaver. A bit of character confabulation rather than reams and reams of prose without rapartee witty or witless would greatly improve the book.
The other fault of the book is the somewhat abrupt ending. Since it's fantasy in space the plot is something of a quest type plot and once the characters complete the quest Farmer miserly doles out a few words, penuriously refusing a simple THE END so you don't turn the page looking for an epilogue or a "happlily ever after". At two hundred fifty pages this isn't an overlong book so I'm left wondering at the cause of the what almost seems a truncation of the novel.
I've outlined the low points but there is good reason to read this book. The World of Tiers is peopled with the mythology of earth and people from earth's past locked in the the society and technology of their time. Despite brevity of conversation the professor's trip from tier to tier is filled with adventure as he climbs the tower of babel at the centre of the World of Tiers.
I'll post some pictures of the powder-room bookshelf tomorrow as Mrs. Bugbear's father was installing it today.