Infinity Gate by M R Carey

March 30, 2023


The Pandominion: a political and trading alliance of a million worlds – except that they’re really just the one world, Earth, in many different realities. And when an AI threat arises that could destroy everything the Pandominion has built, they’ll eradicate it by whatever means necessary, no matter the cost to human life.

Scientist Hadiz Tambuwal is looking for a solution to her own Earth’s environmental collapse when she stumbles across the secret of inter-dimensional travel. It could save everyone on her dying planet, but now she’s walked into the middle of a war on a scale she never dreamed of.

And she needs to choose a side before it kills her.

Hadiz Tambuwal knows our days are numbered. We’ve ravaged the planet without a second thought. Resources have been pillaged to the point of ecological catastrophe. Hadiz’s view of humanity is probably best described as dispassionate. That said she does want to try and save us, even when it looks like we’ve passed the tipping point. How best to do this? Well, it just so happens that Hadiz has stumbled upon the secret to interdimensional travel. If our Earth has depleted its resources beyond all hope, why not just pop to an alternate universe and pick up whatever you need. The only minor wrinkle in that plan? What if there is already a vast, all encompassing bureaucratic entity out there doing exactly the same thing. Can one woman, no matter how clever she is, outwit an entire multiverse?

Infinity Gate is a masterclass in world-building (or should that be worlds-building?). Each iteration of Earth is unique. I particularly like  the fact that primates haven’t always become the ascendant species. One of the novel’s main characters, the fabulously monikered Topaz Tourmaline FiveHills, is from an alt-Earth where rabbits won out on the species lottery.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I sometimes struggle a bit when it comes to the science part of science fiction. The first time I attempted The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F Hamilton I bailed before the end of the first chapter. It felt like all the scientific explanations were making my brain bleed out of my ears. I did come back to it a few years later however and, once I got past my initial science-centric apprehension, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and its sequels. I’ll admit I had some of the same reservations when it came to Infinity Gate, but it turns out I needn’t have worried. The Step technology used to unlock the secrets of the universe is simply explained and seems relatively straightforward*.

I think the possibility of alternate Earths has always appealed to me. The idea that, cosmologically speaking, we live next door to one another but remain blissfully ignorant of each other’s existence. Perhaps these other Earths are not quite at the granular level where every single decision creates another version of reality. That might be a bit much. Something more akin to some defining moment or change that alters the course of the world. Elon Musk being a decent human being for example. Hmm, that might be just a trifle too outlandish.

In the same way that The Girl With All The Gifts is far more than a zombie novel, Infinity Gate isn’t just science fiction. It’s a cautionary tale exploring the nature of humanity’s hubris. Carey’s writing picks apart a whole host of ideas. I’ve already mentioned the environmental overtones but there are also insights into the core of the human condition. How do we define individuality? What constitutes self-awareness? This is the sort of stuff that requires deep pondering. I love it.

I shouldn’t be surprised really should I? M R Carey never fails to disappoint. Describing Infinity Gate as gripping, thought-provoking or entertaining doesn’t even get close to doing it justice. It succeeds on so many different levels. Infinity Gate is part one of a duology so there will be a second book for us all to look forward to and enjoy in the future. Based on what I’ve learnt, there is probably another Earth where it’s already been released. If that’s not cause for immediate invasion on our part, I dont know what is.

Infinity Gate is published by Orbit and is available now. Highly recommended. In fact I’ll go further, I reckon this is the best thing I have read so far this year. It made me engage the old grey matter. I always have time for any book that forces me to think.

My musical recommendation to accompany this novel is the sublime soundtrack to The Antares Paradox by Arnau Bataller. Perhaps with just a dash of Interstellar by Hans Zimmer thrown in for good measure. They are both more than science-fictiony enough to fit the book’s universe-bending tone.

*Obviously when I say relatively straightforward I mean I get that someone stands on a thing and it whisks them off to an alternate dimension. The actual science remains an arcane mystery. If I met M R Carey I’d probably end up shouting ‘WIZARD!’ before trying to burn him at the stake.

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