Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Science Fiction
Approximate word count: 90-95,000 words
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Author Chris James lives with his family in Warsaw, Poland (although I swear I’ve read he’s a native of the UK, I’m too lazy to verify that.) In addition to this novel, he’s written its sequel and a comedy/picture book, The B Team and Me. James is also a regular contributor to the Indies Unlimited website.
For more, visit James’ website.
“Lucas Hunter has the best job in the universe: exploring and investigating alternative realities. But from the first trip he realises something is wrong. A strange American is chasing Lucas across the continuum; from Soviet Warsaw in 1944, to Muslim-dominated Europe in 1911, and on to Nazi-controlled England in 1967. Lucas soon understands that his superiors have betrayed him, and the world is on the brink of the first trans-dimensional war.”
Science Fiction and I have a strange relationship. If asked, I’ll say I’m not much of a sci-fi guy, but when I think of the genre what I picture is the space opera subgenre, full of futuristic space battles, advanced technologies, and life spent entirely in space: Star Trek or Star Wars like stories. Yet I’ve still read some of these and if the characters appeal to me I’ll enjoy them, even though they’ll never be my first choice for reading material.
Obviously, my concept of Science Fiction is way too limited. The truth is, many books I read and enjoy have some Science Fiction elements, although not always enough to fall into the genre. M.P. McDonald’s Mark Taylor series is a good example. What that series and other books which are clearly Science Fiction (but not space opera) that I enjoy have in common is some kind of question that starts, “what if?” In the example of the Mark Taylor books it is, “what if someone had a camera that could show a future negative event, and the camera owner could potentially prevent it from happening?” The Dimension Researcher explores the question of “what if there were alternate realities, and we were able to explore them,” and a second question, “what could go wrong?”
The concept of alternate realities or other dimensions is a common idea in Science Fiction. I’ve encountered it before and expect most sci-fi readers have. In case you’re not familiar with it, the concept is that each time someone makes a decision an alternate reality is created for each of the possible outcomes. The Dimension Researcher can explore the differences between these realities and how alternate decisions, both large and small, could affect the course of the world. It’s an interesting mind exercise. I think any book that makes you think is a good one, and this one did that for me.
But no story is going to work without good characters and, when the story takes place in a world that is changed from our own, in describing and defining that world so it becomes real for the reader – often called world building. It is in these areas where James excelled. The main characters were well-formed with enough detail to feel as if you understood their personalities, both the good and the not. And the world where most of the story took place, a gigantic building with many different areas, each with distinct functions, was described very well. Enough so I could picture it, put myself in the story, and imagine the setting.
The Dimension Researcher is a good read for both sci-fi fans and those who, like me, could benefit from expanding their reading diet as a reminder that the genre is much broader than they think.
Uses UK spelling conventions.
A small number of typos and proofing misses.
Rating: **** Four stars