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A World Too Near
Kay Kenyon
Pyr, 456 pages

A World Too Near
Kay Kenyon
Kay Kenyon was raised in Duluth, Minnesota. She began working as a radio/TV copywriter for a local television station where she also did a weather show. Now, with several partners, she runs a transportation consulting firm, Mirai Associates. She and her husband recently moved to Wenatchee, Washington.

Kay Kenyon Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Bright of the Sky
SF Site Review: Tropic Of Creation

A review by Greg L. Johnson

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Titus Quinn is back in the world of the Entire, the neighboring universe which exists contemporaneous with our own. This time, he has an unwelcome companion, Helice Maki, the ambitious scientist/corporate executive who has gained great influence and power in Minerva, the corporation that once employed Titus and controls access to the Entire. Quinn's mission is two-fold, prevent the Tariq, the strange, powerful beings who rule the Entire from destroying our universe in order to provide energy for their own, and to find his daughter Sydney, who is living with aliens known as the Inyx. Helice, nominally along to help him, has plans of her own.

Thus the stage is set for the second novel in Kenyon's series The Entire and the Rose. Part one, Bright of the Sky, recounted how Quinn and his family first found themselves in the Entire and how they were captured and separated from each other. It also introduced us to several of the residents of the Entire, the nature of their artificially created and sustained universe, and how their universe and ours are related. Bright of the Sky also set up the basic conflict between Quinn and the Tariq, and told us something of the lives of his wife, Johanna, and of his daughter after their separation. The book was a fascinating introduction to a new fictional universe that promised to be as complicated and unpredictable as our own. With A World Too Near, we start to find out just how complicated things are going to get.

In one sense, the plot of The Entire and the Rose is one of the oldest in science fiction, one man alone holds the key to saving the universe. But overriding that issue is Quinn's desire to find and save his family, and his growing relationships and friendships with inhabitants of the Entire. It may be that saving our universe will mean the destruction of theirs, and Quinn finds himself conflicted in his motivations and desires.

Further complicating matters is the fact that time flows at a different rate in the two universes, so that what has been a short time away for Quinn has been many years for his family. His wife has despaired of ever seeing him, and his daughter has come to view him as abandoning and betraying her. Throw in Helice's meddling and it looks like neither of Quinn's goals will ever be accomplished.

Second novels in a series run the risk of being placeholders, advancing the story yet failing to solve any serious issues and leaving the big resolutions for later volumes. A World Too Near avoids that trap for the most part by concentrating on the characters' relationships and turning up the tension on their interactions with each other. If Bright of the Sky bore comparison to Dune and Riverworld because of the breadth of its world-building, A World Too Far is more reminiscent of a good C.J. Cherryh novel, where every conversation is fraught with potential misunderstandings and real, dangerous consequences for anyone who makes a mistake as to the meaning of another character's statements. Everyone, from Titus Quinn to the Tariq Lords and Ladies, is involved in a game of deception, hidden motives, and the need to rely on the actions of people who quite evidently cannot be trusted.

The Entire and The Rose is an on-going work, one that has already taken us to one of the most imaginative creations in recent science fiction history. A World Too Near immerses us in that creation, and pulls us even deeper in to the story of a man who wishes nothing more than to be re-united with his family. That combination of story and setting makes for a novel that races from one peril to the next, and leaves the reader eagerly waiting for the next installment in the series.

Copyright © 2008 by Greg L. Johnson

Reviewer Greg L Johnson is happy to read about life in the Entire, but wouldn't necessarily want to live there. His reviews also appear in the The New York Review of Science Fiction. And, for something different, Greg blogs about news and politics relating to outdoors issues and the environment at Thinking Outside.


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