Reviewed by: Pete Barber
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/Thriller
Approximate word count: 70,000-75,000 words
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Chris Strange lives in New Zealand and writes urban fantasy--hardboiled stories with a noir influence. The Man Who Crossed Worlds was his first novel. For more about Chris visit his web site.
When tunnels opened up between Earth and another dimension, a connection was made with a new race of people, the Vei. Trade was established and governments quickly moved to regulate traffic between the two worlds. Miles Franco is one of a small group of humans born with the gift of tunneling between the worlds. He operates on the fringes, smuggling Vei (human-like creatures) and Vei products to Earth from the other world, colloquially know as Heaven. The story follows Miles as he’s reluctantly coopted by the police on Earth to prevent a gang war.
Part detective and part science fiction, I had a lot of fun reading The Man Who Crossed Worlds. I’m a long way from being a fan of noir. The breathless rush from one danger to the next strains my sense of disbelief. With that caveat in mind, I thought this story was well done and compelling.
Miles Franco delivers bucket-loads of smart-assed asides. He’s imbued with an endearingly old-fashioned moral compass, and hampered by his inability to deal with beautiful women. Miles’ innate desire to run toward trouble dogs him on every page.
Miles tunnels between the dimensions using circular artifacts, which he smears with a chemical manufactured on Earth by a dubious underground pharmacist. Large tunnels used to transport Vei or Humans take considerable mental energy. He spends the whole book exhausted. Smaller tunnels—pin-holes—allow him to pull on the chaotic nature of Heaven to change physical laws in Bluegate—a concept I enjoyed.
Heaven doesn’t featured much, disappointing, because on the one occasion I visited, it was delightfully Dali-esque and the kind of place you’d want to go for your stag night, or maybe Spring Break.
Bluegate, the Earth city where Miles, the police (mostly crooked), and a number of rival bands of gangsters hang out and fight for control, forms a deliciously sleazy and gritty backdrop for the action. And action is the by-word in this novel. There’s not much time spent looking at the scenery, or contemplating the inner motivations of the various factions.
Miles is blackmailed into helping the police prevent a dangerous new drug entering Bluegate from Heaven. Frankly, with the lawless nature of the city, I didn’t really see the issue. This bothered me a little (not understanding the story motivation), but not too much--it’s that kind of story. You’re in it for the ride, not to examine the interior décor.
Apparently, this novel sprang from a ‘short’ the author wrote and published. I’d say the concept of tunneling, and the character Miles Franco have enough depth to carry a sequel.
Not enough to mention.
Rating: ***** Five stars