Cauli Le Chat

Cauli Le Chat
Cauli Le Chat, MPL Roving Reporter

Friday, March 4, 2011

More Than One Moi ??? Perfection Repeats Itself

Scowl-Face doesn't have much time to explore fiction, because he's in library school (learning, I suppose, how to be a library--the adjective would more accurately be librarian school).  But recently, contrary to all expectations, he managed to squeeze sufficient time to read The Walls of the Universe, a science fiction novel by Paul Melko.  We have a book trailer about it, of course.

Naturally, ol' sourpuss wrote about Melko's book in his readers' advisory blog, which (yawn!) sheds a (very) little light on the material.  So I thought I'd better say a few words to help you decide if it's worth a look.

It's actually a fairly straightforward "swimming dinner-out-of-water" plot device.  Teenager John Rayburn meets another version of himself, who uses the moniker John Prime.  Prime arrives from a parallel universe and tricks Rayburn into using his transdimensional transporter device to travel to other universes.  Rayburn soon discovers that it's a one-way trip, because Prime's mechanism is damaged (sabotaged?), and he realizes that Prime plans to hijack Rayburn's life.  Rayburn stumbles across a hundred universes before stalling upon one similar to his original home.  There he tries to assimilate and learn enough physics to reverse-engineer the universe-surfing apparatus.

Meanwhile, back in Rayburn's universe, Prime tries to slip seamlessly into Rayburn's place but discovers that the same two people are hardly identical.  His get-rich-quick schemes involve using inventions from other universes that don't exist yet in Rayburn's world, but this goes awry.  Rayburn, too, introduces something novel in the universe in which he is currently trapped, and this leads to trouble.  As both Johns fumble through these parallel universes, they discover that there are others who know the secret of interdimensional travel.

The book entertains because the characters react realistically to unexpected developments.  Even the best laid plans of mice and men . . .  Well, let's hear it from the author, Robert Burns:

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
(The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!)

Robert BurnsTo a Mouse (Poem, November, 1785)
Scottish national poet (1759 - 1796)
(Source:  The Quotations Page)

This novel (I'm back to Melko) has little to do with felines, and, accordingly, it wasn't on my "must read" list.  (For science fiction loving humans, however, it is a treat, although not tuna flavored.)  The book has a despicable character who allegedly killed cats (BOO!  HISS!), but he gets his just deserts (not desserts; you can look it up) halfway through the novel, proving once again that what goes around, comes around, or vice versa.

This whole parallel universe thing boggles the mind.  I can't imagine an infinite number of moi out there. Melko seemed to anticipate this, however, by introducing the concept of singletons into the plot.  These are folks with no doubles across the multiple universes.  Logically, I'm not sure why there would only be one of those people when everybody else seems to have endless doppelgängers, but, hey, sometimes you have to tweak the plot devices to get the story moving along.  I'm down with the singleton thing; more than one of moi is unthinkable.  Perfection doesn't replicate itself.

The dimensional-shifting Rayburns are truly strangers in a strange land, to borrow the (slightly modified) title from Robert A. Heinlein's science fiction classic.  It was also a fantastic instrumental by The Byrds (sorry about the advertisement before the video--wish you could get around that.)  This song is a superb illustration of David Crosby's compositional acumen (from the band's Turn! Turn! Turn! album).

Imagine if there were two Cauli Le Chats right here-and-now.  It might look something like this:


Doing a Double-Take at the Mirror,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Gemini News Bureau
(Twins--get it?)

P.S.  Thanks to the Lady With the Red Hair for the photo of the legendary Feisty ("Daughter").


  1. Cauli,

    "Stranger in a Strange Land" doesn't appear on the original "Turn! Turn! Turn!" album by the Byrds. It is included among the bonus tracks on the CD re-release.

  2. Scowl-Face,

    If the song's on the CD, it's on the CD, bonus track or not. I wouldn't split too many hairs there--you're getting thin on top.


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