Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement.
Hadiz Tambuwal is one of the few remaining scientists at a Lagos research centre funded by billionaires who thought they could save the world. She is stubbornly continuing her work when she accidentally discovers inter-dimensional travel. Has it come too late for her Earth to be saved?
Meanwhile, in another Lagos not too dissimilar to Hadiz’s, Nkanika is a poor man trying to scrape a living by whatever means he can. He sells his body, works in a scrapheap and crosses paths with those who think nothing of exploiting those who society forgets. A chance encounter will change his life forever.
Those worlds are as yet untouched by the Pandominion, a multi-universe alliance of those with stepping technology. In one of these worlds, a young rabbit called Topaz Tourmaline FiveHills is just happy she has a friend. All three will play their part in the birth of our narrator.
Nobody had ever attempted before to perform surgery on entire universes. For such a task, you need a knife of immense, all but incalculable size. Me. I am that knife.
There was a lot I liked about Infinity Gate, its exploration of the multiverse shows us how evolution may have changed course. We see worlds with sentient slime, those lacking a dominant intelligent species, others where instead of apes, rabbits or cats took the lead in the evolutionary intelligence race. And of course, there’s artificial intelligence and what it means to be a self.
The brass and the Omnipresent Council both were scared shitless that the Pandemonium’s AIs, if they were ever exposed to Ansurrection space, might catch autonomy like a disease.
Again and again, across differing realities, a large population emerges in the location of our Lagos, and that is where most of the story is set. In these various forms of the Nigerian city, by whichever name it lands on. This made much more sense that a Eurocentric population dominating each time, considering humans started out in Africa. It makes sense that sometimes the dominant species wouldn’t move northwards. Not that this means that the other multiverses are free from slavery.
The AI in Hadiz’s reality is much closer to what we have in our timeline. Hadiz does not consider it anything more than a computer program, one she is not keen to use. As the story unfolds, we see how AI differs across the multiverses and ultimately see a backlash against it, with misunderstandings fuelling anger and animosity.
We also see how discovering multiverse travel changes the paths of the other universes when they are not reliant on a single Earth. The climate collapse seen at the start of the story was driven by over-exploitation of resources, and the humans remaining trapped in the only place they know. But what if we had access to infinite Earths?
Poverty, it turned out, was a side effect of scarcity, and there really couldn’t be a scarcity of anything within the Pandominion.
There is a fair chunk of the story that I would describe as military sci-fi which is not my most favourite thing in the world to read. It didn’t go as far as glamorising warfare, with the terrible waste of life highlighted, but it still had the concept of super soldiers brainwashed into following orders without question, and that’s just not something I care to read about. I enjoyed the sections from Hadiz and Topaz, a lot more than Essien’s.
They looked at something radically different from themselves and saw it as something less.
I suppose it’s a sad fact that wherever there is intelligent life, conflict will arise.
Infinity Gate is published by Orbit and is out now in hardback, ebook and audiobook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
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