From Publishers Weekly
In SF veteran Broderick’s brain-stretching stand-alone, 20-something August Seebeck enters a mysterious game, the Contest of Worlds, in which some of the godlike players are his brothers and sisters, battling against terminatorish “deformers.” August discovers superhuman powers of his own and falls in love with a heartbreakingly beautiful female player, Lune. But the game’s ultimate purpose remains unclear while the context of the action keeps changing, as August zips through multiple universes. The more he learns of other worlds, the less he can be sure ofÑbut the more his decisions matter. As things get increasingly serious for August, the story’s tone remains wry, packed with offhand literary references and bookish puns. Broderick (The Dreaming) pays homage to Fritz Leiber’s tales of alternate histories and to Roger Zelazny’s Amber series; the narrative also resembles Robert A. Heinlein’s The Number of the Beast in its cheerful trashing of comfortable but undependable certainties. In a universe where nothing can be taken at face value, scientists and SF readers need to be ready to move on, to ask the next question. Broderick shows that the effort needn’t be a grim duty but actually fun. (May 3)
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*Starred Review* August Seebeck fears that Great-aunt Tansy’s claim that for several weeks there have been dead bodies in the bathroom on Saturday nights means she’s losing her grip. When he meets two women coming in his second-floor bathroom window to dispose of a body, it’s shocking, despite Tansy’s warning. August learns he and the women have something in common–the string of symbols that is etched into their feet. Moreover, the women’s light-show trick to make him forget the encounter doesn’t work. And, anyway, the 11 Seebeck siblings are players in a Game of Worlds, and none of the others believe August is their brother until certain proof–more than just the foot-hieroglyphics–is forthcoming. August travels a multitude of worlds, visiting siblings and falling in love with Lune (one of the women in the bathroom–not a Seebeck), bent on understanding the game in which they’re all players, while his hitherto-unknown family squabble over his sudden appearance and are attacked by the Deformers, their opponents in the game. Broderick’s influences are writ large even before he confesses in the afterword that they are Roger Zelazny and Fritz Lieber. He follows in the footsteps of giants, and does it elegantly, drawing further inspiration from contemporary scientific thought. Regina Schroeder
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