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Walls of the Universe, The Mass Market Paperback – 9 Jul 2012

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tor; 1 edition (9 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765359650
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765359650
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 3.6 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,706,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"An adventure with both brains and heart... With imagination and sympathy, Melko makes the journey genuinely exciting and leaves plenty of room for future exploits." (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review)" --Publishers Weekly

About the Author

PAUL MELKO lives in Ohio.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is about teenagers that are caught between different universes, universes that you with a device can transfer between. As such it is a good idea and Paul Melko writes well. But since the story is about teenagers it is also kind of frustrating to follow and a large part of the book is more or less about life as a young man or woman and has almost nothing to do with this incredible situation that you can transfer instantly between universes.

I would have preferred to have a story with adults and a little more focus on real problems and possibilities.

There is a follow up story, "The Broken Universe", and maybe the story will grow up a little and get a little more interesting but this initial book in what might be a series has its focus on an younger audience. Mr Melko has left a lot to be explained so there might be several books coming.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have read hundreds of sci-fi novels over the years. Without doubt, this is my favourite read. I couldn't put it down.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I really enjoyed this book! It has the feel of Haldeman to it, perhaps the Accidental Time Machine. It is fast paced, good character formation, and takes the reader on a romp through multi-dimensional fun. I will be disappointed if I do not see this author succeeding, because he has talent. Once started, I had to keep reading! Great fun!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 27 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Terrific concept, surprisingly romantic and adventurous novel about parallel universes 17 Feb 2009
By Michael E. Rubin - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Back in December, I read a review of "Walls of the Universe" on the scifi blog io9. Even though I had never read the original novella, I was impressed with the concept and pre-ordered it on Amazon. A copy arrived in my hands last week, and I finally sat down to read it tonight. I fully expected to read it over the next few days and then move on.

Instead, I finished it in one sitting.

I'm not exaggerating. I started reading it at 9pm last night, and as I write this email to you, it's now just past 4am.

I was hooked right from the start. The book was gripping, fun, and deeply fascinating. I also enjoyed the love story aspect of it, and the scenes with Casey were romantic, sexy, and passionate. The tech and the high concept may have been what pulled me in, but I found myself caring about these characters and desperately turning the pages to find out what happened to them.

I have to admit, my favorite MWI-type (and frankly, scifi in general) stories in the past have been James Hogan's "Proteus Operation" and "Paths to Otherwhere." Not only has Mr. Melko's book immediately thrust itself on to my shelf alongside those old favorites, I have a feeling that his is going to be one I re-read again and again with much greater frequency.

Thanks to Mr. Melko for writing such a wonderful, romantic, entertaining novel. Now I'm off to go find a copy of "Singularity's Ring."
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
entertaining science fiction thriller 3 Feb 2009
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Growing up on a farm in Ohio, high school senior John Rayburn dreams of studying physics at Case Institute of Technology though the reality is that he will attend Toledo where he can earn money to afford the tuition. He is angry at himself as much as bully Ted Carson whom he beat the snot out of when a figure arrives insisting he is Johnny. They look like identical twins and the second Johnny explains he is a double-Prime replica and gives John a gizmo to travel to alternate worlds and come up with inventions to sell on this orb that has not been created starting with Rubik's Cube (make that Johnny's cube).

Prime Johnny says he will masquerade as John while the latter explores. However, Prime fails to warn John that there is one flaw with the cross dimensional device: you can never go home. Prime takes over John's life. John, after meeting several "Johns", settles on a world where he studies physics with plans to stay in hiding of sorts while fixing the gadget so he can come home. Prime impregnates John's girlfriend Casey and marries her; while his Rubik Cube creation runs into patent law issues and Ted makes trouble for him. On the world he chose to live John has a relationship with another Casey, avoids the Ted alternate and accidentally "invents" pinball that bring him to the attention of his previously unknown competitors, stranded cross-world travelers earning a living with new technology and a desire to steal John's functioning gadget.

THE WALLS OF THE UNIVERSE is an entertaining science fiction thriller in which the two Johns find their respective lives play out differently. Whereas Prime learns the grass is not greener as nothing goes right for him; John makes his new world a home though he ends up in danger from desperate marooned souls like himself. Although a late twist implies a series involving saving the universe from reverse engineers, readers will appreciate Paul Melko's fine tale of two Johns.

Harriet Klausner
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Fascinating, Breathless Beginning 16 July 2009
By Michael Hickerson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I really, really liked Paul Melko's "The Walls of the Universe." The problem is I wanted to love it.

The first third of the novel unfolds at a breathless pace as we meet John Rayburn and his double from a parallel universe, John Prime. Prime has come to John's universe with a device that allows the user to pop from one parallel universe to the next. Prime offers John the chance to explore the next universe over, promising John that he can pop over, recharge the device and just pop back. Little does John suspect that Prime's device only allows you to journey forward to the next universe and not backward and that Prime is looking for a way to steal John's life out from under him.

For the first third of the novel, we alternate back and forth between John's journey and Prime's scheming in John's home universe. Prime has come forward with ideas and inventions not yet seen in John's universe, intending to claim them as his own and take the credit and fortune that comes with them. We slowly see how Prime works his way into John's seemingly ideal life, not only getting the girl John has always had a crush on but also working out the first stages of fame and fortune by introducing the Rubik's Cube to that universe. Meanwhile, John must learn the ropes of travel, eventually deciding to settle down in one safe universe and going to college to try and understand the device.

In the course of the story, Melko allows the reader to both root for and against each John. Prime could easily be a one-note villain, but as Melko explores the character and allows us to get to know him, we become more sympathetic toward him and even begin to pull for him as some of the later events of the story begin to unfold. And while John may be initially be a victim, he eventually begins to take on some of Prime's traits that early on made us pull against him, leaving the reader with some fascinating questions about nature vs nurture. And, like all good sci-fi, he presents the arguments and allows readers to draw their own conclusions.

The book also brings up some interesting ideas about "destiny," as we see John's journey to ending up with the same girl in two universes as well as having to tangle with the same bully in both.

It's once other various inhabitants from other parallel worlds show up that things begin to drift off course a bit. The story tries to expand the concept of the infinite number of universes, each one slightly different than the next, with concepts about people who only exist in one universe and the morality of jumping from one place to the next and trying to cash in. We also find that John's machine is damaged and that through study John is able to reverse engineer a working device to return to our world.

However, once John gets a newly working device, things begin to derail a bit. The problem is these concepts come up so late in the story that they seem tacked on and aren't as fascinatingly explored as some of the concepts and characters early in the novel. It may be that Melko wanted to have some hard science in a character based sci-fi story, but it just feels a bit out of place.

But that shouldn't keep you from reading "The Walls of the Universe." For 300 pages, it's one of the most fascinating, compelling and page-turning sci-fi (or really any genre) novels I've read in a long time. I'm hoping that Melko might return to the universe he's created here and show us the last 50 or so pages are all about setting up a great follow-up.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Five stars, but he almost lost one in the last 40 pages 3 Sep 2010
By Dale R. Cozort - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book from the author at Context, a science fiction convention in Columbus Ohio.

First the good stuff: It has been a long time since a book has grabbed me and made me want to keep turning pages even though I had a lot of other things that desperately needed to be done. This one did. The combination of the plot and characters I cared about kept me reading. The next issue of Point of Divergence may be a day or two late, but this was worth it.

This book is solidly alternate history, though the histories of the universes involved are generally rather sketchy. Most of them are penciled in with a few well-chosen details--enough to that they seemed solid, but not enough to slow down or overshadow the story.

The bulk of the story follows two versions of a farm boy, John Rayburn as he/they live his/their lives, mostly separately, but with some overlap. The first of those overlaps comes as one version (John Prime) tricks the other into swapping lives with him. Details of the second meeting would involve spoilers, so I'll let you discover that on your own. There are other overlapping characters, including a nemesis and a love interest.

One of the stronger aspects of this novel is the way that Melko approaches the way intellectual property transfers across the realities. That sounds boring stated that way, but he handles it well, technically accurate, realistic, and kind of exciting. Another strength: the way the experiences of the two versions of John shape them into substantially different people by the end of the book.

Now the weakness: Notice that I still gave this one five stars, so this didn't spoil the experience for me. With that in mind, the last forty-odd pages of Walls seemed considerably weaker than the rest. The writing wasn't as smooth. The characters didn't seem quite as in-character. There were a lot of little line-edits that should have been made to tighten it up and make things clearer. The rest of the book was excellent. Those last forty pages or so felt like they had the same potential, but needed one more edit pass for clarity and conciseness.

Again, notice the five stars. I read a lot of alternate history, and this one grabbed me about as thoroughly as a book as been able to grab me in the last year or two, relatively weak ending or no. I'm glad I bought this one, and would buy a sequel if one comes out.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Enjoyable classic SF 16 May 2010
By Angie Boyter - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Do not expect Walls of the Universe to be similar to Melko's first Book, Singularity's Ring. The stories are very different, and readers who like one might not like the other, although I liked both. Walls of the Universe is the better book and perhaps indicates Melko's growth as a writer. Singularity's Ring is the more ambitious, with more far-reaching speculation and world-building; he may have over-reached a bit for a first novel. Walls of the Universe attempts less but seems to do it better. Its worlds are more familiar and the characters easier to identify with. There are similarities, such as central characters in their teens, but the books occupy different subgenres of SF. Walls of the Universe is a classic alternate-universe story, reminiscent of the kind of tale popular in the 50's and early 60's. This is not a criticism; done well, this classic SF theme can be very engaging, and Melko does it well.

The central character(s) is (are) John Rayburn an Ohio farmboy in his last year of high school. He is suddenly faced with with his double, who claims to be John Rayburn from a different universe. John Prime, as our original John names him, also claims to have a device that lets him travel universes and offers to let John try it out as proof of his veracity. Of course, John finds he cannot return, and the two Johns find themselves leading lives in universes to which they do not belong. Prime settles into the farmboy life, courts cheerleader Casey, whom John loved from afar but was too shy to speak to, and attempts to strike it rich by introducing the Rubik's Cube. John's main obsession is finding a way to return home, and he tries to finance his life and his research by introducing the pinball machine into his new universe. Both Johns find plenty of adventures in their new universes, and the book concludes with a very satisfying and unexpected final chapter.

My husband pointed out that the physics is simplistic, but that did not stop him from liking the book also and recommending it to me

I almost gave this book 5 stars for sheer enjoyability, but considered objectively, Melko didn't plow any new SF ground; it just gave me a great deal of enjoyment. I look forward to Melko's next.
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