Every time Zax Delatree falls asleep, he travels to a new reality. He has no control over his destination and never knows what he will see when he opens his eyes. Sometimes he wakes up in technological utopias, and other times in the bombed-out ruins of collapsed civilizations. All he has to live by are his wits and the small aides he has picked up along the way – technological advantages from techno-utopias, sedatives to escape dangerous worlds, and stimulants to extend his stay in pleasant ones.
Thankfully, Zax isn’t always alone. He can take people with him, if they’re unconscious in his arms when he falls asleep. But someone unwelcome is on his tail, and they are after something that Zax cannot spare – the blood running through his veins, the power to travel through worlds…
Title: Doors of Sleep | Series: Possibly Book 1 in Journals of Zaxony Delatree | Author: Tim Pratt | Publisher: Angry Robot | Pub. Date: January 12th, 2021 | Pages: 269 | ASIN: B088F219BZ | Genre: SciFi and Fantasy | Language: English | Source: Purchased | Starred
The first work by Tim Pratt that I read was Briarpatch, from the beforetimes. A very enjoyable story involving the multiverse. With Doors of Sleep, he takes us back to the multiverse, though a very different one.
The starting premise is that Zax travels to a new universe every time he falls asleep. Which is absurd on its face, but that absurdity gives Pratt the tools for infinite play. Zax is not from our Earth. In fact, the word Earth is never used as a proper noun, only to refer to dirt. We get the technologically advanced worlds, some with space travel, destroyed worlds post-apocalypse, worlds with mummies, and such. Along the way, a number of characters appear who have, for want of a better word, superpowers of one form or another.
Zax can take anybody or anything he’s holding when he sleeps with him, though there are some complications. Those complications eventually introduce the opportunity for Cosmic Horror, which may very well play out in the series but is just hinted at here.
Pratt manages to build an interesting set of characters that move throughout the book, despite the handicap of starting with one man changing universes when he sleeps. And for the most part, they are interesting well-developed characters.
As you might imagine, because the universe changes with every new day, the book moves at a brisk pace which I enjoyed. New elements keep getting introduced and insane ideas come and go once they have served their role of bringing in some absurdist fun.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s a terrific example of the genre. Briskly paced, zappy events, plot devices that are developed over time despite the structural handicap of the premise. If the basic idea and setup appeal to you I think the book will not let you down. It delivers exactly what I expected without the plot being at all predictable.
You can purchase a copy of this book via your normal retailer, but please consider purchasing it from a local indie bookshop instead. It can be found here at Indiebound or at Bookshop. Please note the Bookshop link is an affiliate link and each purchase you make through it helps to support Sci-Fi & Scary and keep the site running.
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