The Walls of the Universe

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Overview

John Rayburn thought all of his problems were the mundane ones of an Ohio farm boy in his last year in high school. Then his doppelgänger appeared, tempted him with a device that let him travel across worlds, and stole his life from him. John soon finds himself caroming through universes, and, when the device breaks, unable to return home. John settles in a new universe to unravel the machine’s secrets and fix it.

Meanwhile, his doppelgänger tries to exploit the commercial ...

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The Walls of the Universe

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Overview

John Rayburn thought all of his problems were the mundane ones of an Ohio farm boy in his last year in high school. Then his doppelgänger appeared, tempted him with a device that let him travel across worlds, and stole his life from him. John soon finds himself caroming through universes, and, when the device breaks, unable to return home. John settles in a new universe to unravel the machine’s secrets and fix it.

Meanwhile, his doppelgänger tries to exploit the commercial technology he’s stolen from other Earths: the Rubik’s Cube! John’s attempts to lie low in his new universe backfire when he inadvertently introduces pinball. It becomes a huge success. Both actions draw the notice of other, more dangerous travelers, who are exploiting worlds for ominous purposes. Fast-paced and exciting, this is SF adventure at its best from a rising star.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Make[s] other writers wish they could pop into a close by universe, steal his book, and then come back and claim it for their own.”

—John Scalzi

“A distinctive vision of a post-singularity future…. Melko gives us an absorbing tour of a world where humanity isn’t what it used to be.”

—Charles Stross on Singularity's Ring

“Bursts forth like a new universe exploding into being; a major book that happens to also be the debut novel of a stellar new talent.”

—Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award–winning author of Rollback on Singularity's Ring

“Melko is clearly an up-and-comer, and this is a distinctive debut.”

—Kirkus Reviews on Singularity's Ring

Publishers Weekly

Melko (Singularity's Ring) sends a naïve high school senior on a sharply imagined trip across divergent time lines in an adventure with both brains and heart. John Rayburn is approached by John Prime, another universe's version of himself, who lends him a device that permits travel to parallel worlds. John realizes he's been tricked when he can't get back home. He stops in an almost-familiar universe to analyze the device and return to his own world, where John Prime is trying to get rich quick by "inventing" gadgets that his new home lacks. Soon the two are making friends and putting down roots, each discovering that he carries his own fundamentally empathetic, responsible personality from one universe to another. With imagination and sympathy, Melko makes the journey genuinely exciting and leaves plenty of room for future exploits. (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
Is our universe/solar system/galaxy the only one there is? What would happen if there were an infinite number of universes? Would they be the same? Exactly the same? With the same people? Or would there be little, tiny differences that no one would realize? No one, that is, except those few people who were actually able to transfer between universes. High school senior John Rayburn storms out of his house, furious at his father and his circumstances, and suddenly confronts—himself! The new John (John Prime) is not just exploring different universes. He wants to stay—permanently. But where will the original John go? Prime has a device that allows him to "go through the walls of the universe," and he's willing to give it to John, with instructions on its use. Why is he so willing—even anxious—to get John out of Universe 7534 and get himself in? What happened in Universe 7433 that was so terrible? John is about to find out! In the process, he finds out more about himself than he really wants to know. The people he finds are the same people, but their reactions to him are different in each universe. So are his reactions to them. Would it be so awful if things like pinball and Rubik's Cube were actually imports from another universe? This is a terrific book, a good, fast read that I couldn't put down. My only objection is to the amount of gratuitous violence and blood. Reviewer: Judy Silverman
Library Journal

High school senior John Rayburn's eerie encounter with his doppelganger, who calls himself John Prime and gives him a device that allows him to travel among many parallel universes, leads to frantic world-hopping as the damaged device refuses to allow him to return home, where Prime has stolen his life. The author of Singularity's Ring expands an earlier novella into a full-length tale of interdimensional identity theft and hairbreadth escapes. Suitable for larger libraries.


—Jackie Cassada
Kirkus Reviews
Alternate-worlds jaunt from the author of Singularity's Ring (2008). Uncomplicated Ohio farm boy John Rayburn's goal is to study physics at college-until another John Rayburn shows up. John's rather battered-looking double explains that he carries a device that allows him to travel between alternate universes. The double-Prime-shows John designs for some moneymaking devices (like Rubik's Cube) that don't exist in John's world. The travel device seems simple enough to operate, and John agrees to try it. Bingo! The device works, but with one fatal flaw-John can't return home. Prime, obviously, knew the device was broken and conned John in order to steal his life. After various adventures in other worlds, John decides to settle down in an acceptable world and learn physics, with the eventual goal of repairing the device. Meanwhile, Prime runs into difficulties: he marries the girl of his dreams, Casey Nicholson, after getting her pregnant, while his plan to sell millions of "Rayburn's Cubes" runs into legal problems, and Ted Carson, the local bully, causes trouble. In his new home, meanwhile, John studies physics, enjoys an on-again, off-again relationship with alternate Casey, steers clear of another Ted-and almost against his will, finds that he's "invented" pinball, which is unknown there. John's variation of the game proves a big hit, but attracts attention from a ruthless community of exiled travelers, who also make money by introducing unknown technology-and will stop at nothing to obtain a device to enable them to return home. Well executed but all too familiar, with a late plot twist suggesting it will mutate into an interworld hunter-killer series. Your move. Agent: CaitlinBlasdell/Liza Dawson Associates
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765359650
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 5/22/2012
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

PAUL MELKO lives in Ohio.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 7, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    an entertaining science fiction thriller

    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).<BR/><BR/>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.<BR/><BR/>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.<BR/><BR/>Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2012

    Great Sci Fi

    Great characters and story development. Had a friend recommend it since I was getting into I Asimov stories.

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    Posted March 1, 2013

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