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Bewildering Stories

Rajnar Vajra, Opening Wonders

reviewed by Jerry Wright

Author: Rajnar Vajra
Publisher: none yet
Length: 448 pages
ISBN: none yet

One of the joys of publishing this rag is that occasionally I get to see books that aren’t out yet. And this is one of those times. Those of you who read Analog SF magazine will be quite familiar with the name “Rajnar Vajra.” He’s been writing a wide variety of truly enjoyable stories, most of which have appeared in ASF over the past few years. Stan Schmidt, the editor of Analog published a very cool novel called Shootout at the Nokai Corral which was highly enjoyable, had the last few SF illustrations ever done by the famous Frank Kelly Freas, and can’t find a home with a regular publisher because they can’t figure out how to market it. This is sad.

I was wasting time on the Analog forum when I told Rajnar how much I enjoyed his latest foray called “Of Kings, Queens, and Angels” when he told me he had just finished a novel set in the same universe, and would I be interested in reading it?

Would I? Does a... well... never mind. The answer was a definite, positive YES!!! And I didn’t scare him away. So about a month later, what should appear in my inbox but a 1.5 megabyte Doc file, which I stuck in my E-Book, and devoured. (Have I mentioned how much I love my EBook 1150? Again, never mind...)

So this book is so new that Rajnar’s agent hasn’t read it yet. So what do I think of it? It is great. It is a wondrous work of imagination. The concepts Raj created in building his multiverse and the Crossroad World are truly mind-boggling. I enjoy having my mind boggled.

So, what’s it about? Okay, lemme at it...

Imagine the Pan-cosmos. Well, you needn’t. Let me give you a description from the book:

“I’m no mathematician, but as I understand it, our entire universe is a -- a four-dimensional sliver of a single twelve-dimensioned superspacial domain, and I’m not talking dimension as in the enfolded branes of string theory. Anyway, there are supposedly twelve interdependent superspacial domains, therefore a horde of slivers. The aggregate of all superspacial domains is sometimes called ‘ultraspace’. ”

And a race called the Nemes came in contact with our Earth a number of years before our story starts, and they opened up a limited way to a world that is the hub of the Pan-cosmos, Crossroad World. A place where the races of these non-parallel realities can meet and interact, a place where our protagonist finds himself heading.

Professor David Goldberg is one of the foremost authorities on a vanished race called the Scome. And a mysterious picture of a Scome machine has somehow appeared on the desk of the Secretary General. Except as far as anyone knows, all Scome artifacts vanished when the Scome disappeared from their planet.

Because this “war machine” photo just magically appeared, and everyone is jumpy about this whole Ultraspace thing, a computer search is done for just the right person who can be sent to Crossroad world, and the best choice is David. Who of course jumps at the chance. And in his journey through Crossroad World, the wonders keep opening.

Here you’ll meet Rider-On-Beauty of the race called “Common,” the Nemes Strong Eighth-house, Swift Thirdhouse and Kind Thirdhouse, and of course, The WaterGod, the FireMage, the MirrorMage, and the wonderful Seris.

Guess what? Clarke’s dictum “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” comes into play except here we meet beings whose grasp of the underlying Pan-cosmos is so great that “technology” doesn’t really come into it.

Ah well, I could go on and on. Opening Wonders is filled with marvels and wonders and really fine writing. David not only goes on a quest, but this is truly a coming of age novel about a middle-aged professor. And the people you’ll meet, and the things that you’ll see... This book is “sense of wonder” taken to the Nth degree. I really hope you’ll all have a chance to read it in the near future, because Rajnar has fulfilled the promise he’s shown in his many fine stories in Analog.

Copyright © 2005 by Jerry Wright

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