Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Dimension Researcher (The Second Internet Cafe, Part I) - Chris James

Here's the other indie novel I mentioned in my list for Book Junkies Journal of my six favorite reads of 2012.
Y'all can breathe now; this one is sci-fi. 

First, let me explain about dimension research. James has taken the process of making a decision and run headlong with it.  In the reality he has invented for his series, every decision you make spawns a series of new realities: one that follows the path you decided upon, and one or more others that follow the paths you didn't take.  Researchers in Europe have figured out how to move from one of these dimensions to another.  Now, a consortium of nations has built a facility called the Second Internet Cafe, from which teams are sent to parallel dimensions to find out what could have been -- for example, how our world would have been enriched if So-and-so hadn't died in the Holocaust.  Think Connie Willis's Doomsday Book crossed with Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials (but without the daimons). 

Lucas Hunter is a brand-new dimension researcher.  On his very first day on the job, not only does he manage to annoy his team leader, ace dimension researcher Jean Bauer, but he also discovers that another nation has figured out how to do dimension research.  All of this is happening at the same time that the Russian prime minister is supposed to tour the  Second Internet Cafe -- and if he doesn't like what he sees, Russia will pull out of the project and the facility will have to close.

There's intrigue involved, of course, and politics, and some less-than-ethical stuff going on.  Lucas brashly appoints himself to figure it all out.  The one thing he can't seem to figure out is that his friend Kasha is in love with him -- but hey, even in our dimension, geeks have that problem.

James has done a great job with the world-building, and his science had me convinced.  His visual of the decision tree has stuck with me in the months since I read the book.  All in all, a good read.