Micaiah Johnson’s debut novel, The Space Between Worlds, is a fun, deep, and clever story about traveling the multiverse.
Cara is a young woman who travels across a multiverse of 380 earths for her job as a “traverse”. Every time she comes to a new version of the planet she has to gather vital information about what makes this earth unique before bringing it back to her bosses.
A Traverser can only visit an earth if he is already dead in that universe. Fortunately for Cara’s career prospects, there aren’t very many versions of her still alive. She grew up in a brutal and fascist wasteland, and so only eight versions of her are left in operation. This means she can traverse almost any earth in the multiverse, which makes her a valuable contributor.
The space between the worlds mainly takes place in two locations, each of which is visited across multiple realities. The first is the rich and clean town of Wiley that Cara now lives in, and the other is the wild garbage of Mad Max in Ashtown, which she hails from. Both places are on earth, but it is not clear when.
The book explores many exciting possibilities about alternative realities, but it quickly becomes clear that exploring and building worlds on a multiversal level is not its goal. Instead, it’s a surprisingly intimate novel about facing the demons. It ponders questions of identity, nature versus care and the consequences of our actions.
Although there are some cumbersome steps in its construction of the world, the novel never falls under the weight of too great a complexity. The characters are sharp and the way the plot twists and turns is gripping. There are intense and weighty revelations from side one.
Sometimes the book is reminiscent of Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter’s The Long Earth, and sometimes it’s closer to Luiza Sauma’s Everything You Ever Wanted.
The space between the worlds is a fresh and interesting take on the multiverse. At least on this version of the earth.
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