Planesrunner (Everness Series #1)by Ian McDonald
There is not one you. There are many yous. There is not one world. There are many worlds. Ours is one of billions of parallel earths.
When Everett Singh's scientist father is kidnapped from the streets of London, he leaves young Everett a mysterious app on his computer. Suddenly, this fourteen-year-old has become the owner of the most valuable object in the… See more details below
There is not one you. There are many yous. There is not one world. There are many worlds. Ours is one of billions of parallel earths.
When Everett Singh's scientist father is kidnapped from the streets of London, he leaves young Everett a mysterious app on his computer. Suddenly, this fourteen-year-old has become the owner of the most valuable object in the multiverse-the Infundibulum-the map of all the parallel earths, and there are dark forces in the Ten Known Worlds who will stop at nothing to get it. They've got power, authority, and the might of ten planets-some of them more technologically advanced than our Earth-at their fingertips. He's got wits, intelligence, and a knack for Indian cooking.
To keep the Infundibulum safe, Everett must trick his way through the Heisenberg Gate his dad helped build and go on the run in a parallel Earth. But to rescue his Dad from Charlotte Villiers and the sinister Order, this Planesrunner's going to need friends. Friends like Captain Anastasia Sixsmyth, her adopted daughter Sen, and the crew of the airship Everness.
Can they rescue Everett's father and get the Infundibulum to safety? The game is afoot! (For ages 12 & up)
-Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"I am totally into this book. It's cool, it's fun, and it's exciting. Hanging out with this book makes me feel a little cooler and a little smarter. Plus, I feel like I'm dating the kind of book I always want to date."
-Forever Young Adult
"Chock-full of awesome. Ian McDonald's steampunk London blazes on a vast scale with eyepopping towers, gritty streets, and larger-than-life characters who aren't afraid to fight for each other. The kind of airship-dueling, guns-blazing fantasy that makes me wish I could pop through to the next reality over, join the Airish, and take to the skies."
-Paolo Bacigalupi author of Ship Breaker
"McDonald writes with scientific and literary sophistication, as well as a wicked sense of humor. Add nonstop action, eccentric characters, and expert universe building, and this first volume of the Everness series is a winner."
-Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Smashing adventure fiction that spans the multiverse without ever losing its cool or its sense of style. McDonald is one of the greats of science fiction, and his young adult debut is everything you could hope for: romantic, action-packed, wildly imaginative, and full of heart."
-Cory Doctorow, author of For the Win
"Planesrunner is not only excellent YA SF . . . but is simply good SF in a way which almost reinvents, and possibly makes addictive, the old parallel-universe trope. It's fun."
Read an Excerpt
By IAN MCDONALD
Prometheus BooksCopyright © 2011 Ian McDonald
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe car was black. Black body shell, black wheels, black bumpers, black windows. The rain sat on its shiny skin like drops of black oil. A black car on a black night. Everett Singh zipped his jacket up to his chin and flipped up his hood against the cold wind and watched the black car crawl behind his dad, pedalling his bicycle up the Mall. It was a bad bike night. Tree branches lashed and beat. Wind is the cyclist's enemy. The Institute for Contemporary Arts' nonreligious seasonal decorations flapped and rattled. Everett had noticed that every year when Hackney Council put up their Winterval lanterns, a storm would arrive and blow them down again. He had suggested that they put them up a week later. They hadn't even acknowledged his email. This year the storm blew as it blew every year and the decorations were scattered the length of the High Street. Everett Singh noticed things like that: patterns, behaviours, connections, and coincidences.
That was how Everett noticed the car. It hadn't pulled out to skim aggressively past Tejendra on his bike. It kept a slow, steady pace behind him. London cars didn't do that, not with bikes, certainly not on a cold wet Monday night on a rainy Mall ten days before Christmas. His dad wouldn't have noticed it. Once Tejendra got going on his bike, he didn't notice anything. Tejendra had started biking after the split with Everett's mum. He said it was quicker, he had less of a carbon footprint, and it kept him fit. Everett reported this to Divorcedads.com. The site had started as a well-meaning web space where "kids could network about the pain of parental split-up." The kids arrived and turned it into a forum for swapping embarrassing dad stories. The opinion of the forum was that buying a full-suspension mountain bike for four thousand pounds when the steepest thing you ever rode over was a speed bump was typical of dads when they split up. Slipped-nott wondered why he couldn't have bought a Porsche like everyone else. Because my dad's not like everyone else, Everett commented back.
Other dads named their sons after footballers or relatives or people on television. Tejendra named his after a dead scientist. Other dads took their sons to Pizza Express after the football. Tejendra created "cuisine nights" at his new apartment. After every Tottenham home game, he and Everett would cook a feast from a different country. Tejendra liked cooking Thai. Everett was good at Mexican. And other dads took their sons to laser quest or karting or surf lessons. Tejendra took Everett to lectures at the Institute for Contemporary Arts on nanotechnology and freaky economics and what would happen when the oil ran out. It was cool with Everett Singh. Different was never boring.
Here came Tejendra, pushing up the Mall, head down into the wind and the rain, in full fluorescents and flashers and reflectors and Lycra with the big black German car behind him. Punjabi dads should not wear Lycra, Everett thought. He put up his arm to wave. The glow-tubes he'd knotted through the cuffs traced bright curves in the air. Tejendra looked up, waved, wobbled. He was a terrible cyclist. He was almost going backwards in the wind howling down from Constitution Hill. Why didn't the black car go round him? It couldn't have been doing more than ten kilometres per hour. There it went now. It pulled out with a deep roar, then cut in across Tejendra and stopped. Tejendra veered, braked, almost fell.
"Dad!" Everett shouted.
Three men got out of the car. They were dressed in long dark coats. Everett could see Tejendra was about to yell at them. The men were very quick and very sure. One of them wrenched Tejendra's right arm behind his back. A second bundled him into the backseat. The third man picked up the fallen bicycle, opened the boot and threw it in. Doors slammed shut, the black car pulled back into traffic. Very quick, very sure. Everett stood stunned, his arm still raised to wave. He was not sure he could believe what he had seen. The black car accelerated towards him. Everett stepped back under the arcade along the front of the ICA. The glow tubes, the stupid glow tubes, were like a lighthouse. Everett pulled out his phone. The car swept past him. Tejendra was a patch of fluorescent yellow behind the darkened windows. Everett stepped out and shot a photograph, two photographs, three, four. He kept shooting until the black car vanished into the traffic wheeling around the Victoria Memorial.
Something. He must do something. But Everett couldn't move. This must be what shock felt like. Posttraumatic stress. So many actions he could take. He imagined himself running after the black car, running at full pelt up the rainy Mall, tailing the black car through the rush hour. He could never catch it. It had too much of a lead. The city was too big. He couldn't run that far, that long, that fast. Maybe he could stop a taxi, tell it to follow that car. Tejendra had told him once that every taxi driver longed to be told that. Even if he could ever track the black car through the London traffic, what did he think he could do against three big men who had lifted his father as lightly as a kitten? That was comics stuff. There were no superheroes. He could ask the people huddling under umbrellas, collars turned up, arriving for a public talk on nanotechnology: Did you see that? Did you? He could ask the door staff in their smart shirts. They were too busy meeting and greeting. They wouldn't have seen anything. Even if they had, what could they do? So many wrong actions, but what was the right thing, the one right thing? In the end there was one right thing to do. He hit three nines on his phone.
"Hello? Police? My name's Everett Singh. I'm at the ICA on the Mall. My dad has just been kidnapped."
Excerpted from PLANESRUNNER by IAN MCDONALD Copyright © 2011 by Ian McDonald. Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Planesrunner by Ian McDonald (2011) I liked a lot of things about the basic premise of this story. It seemed to have a lot of potential--a book about many worlds and a device to navigate them? Cool! A thoughtful main character who likes to cook and play video games? Rad. De facto diversity? Awesome! Even with some fairly obvious hints to Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld and the TV shows Sliders and Stargate, Planesrunner sounded like a good time. Unfortunately this one never quite hit the mark. MacDonald seemed to have an idea of what a teen narrator should do and think and seemed to be checking marks off as Everett does all of these strange things in the narrative with random sound effects and a really annoying habit of providing a nickname for literally every character Everett meets. I tend to be wary of adult authors trying to transition into YA writing because more often than not something gets lost on the way as if the author is so used to writing older characters that they are unsure how to transition. I really felt that here. Everett's behaviors and decisions were very erratic--either too mature or too immature for his given age. Uneven pacing and odd writing choices made for an uneasy read. The plot picked up significantly in the second half but problems remained as the story continued to feel like two books slapped together. What I mean is there is a very clear direction in the first half of the story and then priorities and focus shift very suddenly in the second half. (Speaking of the second half, McDonald also includes Pallari in the latter part of the novel which is really interesting but requires a lot of glancing at the dictionary in the back.) I can see this book appealing to fans of pure science fiction as the plot here hits all the marks. Fans of A Confusion of Princes may also see some appeal here. That said, Planesrunner isn't the smoothest read and it isn't always easy to connect with Everett though I'm sure readers who finish the story will be rewarded and likely look forward to continuing with the series.
Pardon me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember Everett describing it as 'electropunk' (or something similar), not steampunk. (Also, this is one of my favorite books, and more people should read it!)
Omg! This book is amazing! Seriously, I loved it. From the time spent in Everette Singh’s home world, to the time spent in the other parallel, I adored every minute of it. The story just picked up from the beginning and kept me drawn in ’til the last page. I’ll try to go into detail without spoiling it; obviously I will try to do all of this while containing my excitement. J The story itself reminded me a little of the television show, Sliders, endless amounts of other Earths in parallel universes. All of them different, some with just a slight change other so different they are unrecognizable. Great premise for a show, great premise for a book too. Of course the similarities in the story pretty much end with the whole idea of parallel universes (but it still brought to mind Sliders). The mechanics behind world travel made sense in the context of the story. Moreover, I really loved the amount of detail the author gave. Especially the little tidbits involving how the different worlds had evolved, where they splintered off from each other, and then the details of the worlds themselves. I felt like I was there in all the Londons right alongside Sen and Everette. The descriptions were immaculate, even how McDonald describes the gulls. “…Gulls rose up…crying in their dead-soul voices.” A very apt description of Sea Gulls I must say. I must note I had a slight problem with some of the Airish slang. Not the fact that it annoyed me simply that I sometimes had to stop for a minute to figure out from the context of the conversation what was actually happening or being said. Some words took me a few times to truly decipher, but overall – once I adjusted – the slang just added more texture and flavor to Sen’s London. It really helped to show even more of a difference between Sen’s world and Everettes. Plus, in the back of the book was a neat little extra showing where Airish slang came from and its ties to the real London in our world. While this book can be enjoyed by adults, I think is also good choice for younger readers. As I said before the book drew me in and didn’t let me back out until the very last page. It is open ended, not a sheer drop cliffhanger, but you know that there is going to be more, so much more to the story. Only a few problems have been solved, many more have been created. Still I think the book is worth picking up, and I can’t wait ’til the next book in the series comes out. Fingers crossed it’s sometime soon! I give this one 5 out of 5! ~’til next time all you palones and omis be sure to stay bona! Originally Reviewed at:Mother/Gamer/Writer Reviewer: AimeeKay
This is faster paced than McDonald's adult science fiction with enough meat on its bones so that adults will find it enjoyable,too. I liked the quirky characters and the vividly portrayed "steampunk" London (made real enough that I wanted to visit it). First in a series, and when the book ended, I wanted it to go on.
You cant add a gear here and some rust there and call it steampunk. Steampunk is based off of the Victorian Age, which is very much looked past when thinking about the aspects of steampunk.