TL;DR: An interesting take on a multiverse, The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson shows us just how much or little our lives would change in another universe
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/2
Cara is a multiverse traveler, but its not as glamorous as it sounds. All she’s really doing is picking up data from the 372 other versions of Earth so that the scientists in Earth 0 can study the data and see how not to suffer they way these other Earth’s do. Except she has a secret, one that get her entangled with the founder of the company in which she works.
I enjoyed this story quite a bit. The multiverse set up was interesting and the small and large differences between the different Earths made them unique enough without making it absurd. I also loved the way the same people show up in each of the worlds, but not the same as their previous counterparts. It’s just like the movie, Closing Doors, but deeper, darker, and more rich. For all that and more, I give it 4.5 stars.
Cara is a traverser, someone who travels between Earths where she’s no longer alive to gather data from the other Earth versions. She came from humble beginnings in Ashtown and finally has achieved what she wanted – a safe and comfortable existence in the nicer city of Obelin.
However, she has a secret and a dark past, which influences not only how she sees the world, but also how she interacts with the different Earths she travels to. When one of her doppelgangers dies under mysterious circumstances, Cara decides to figure out what happened and why. What she discovers impacts not just the Earth she’s in, but also the Earth from which she came.
What I liked & liked less
The world building for this novel was done so well: a multiverse that has clear rules and mechanisms for travel, as well as a cost to the travelers.I also liked that we get a clear sense of the politics at play, but it was focused on class and wealth rather than on anything else.
The different paths the multi Caras take in their journeys were also interesting and I loved that she ran into the same people in both places. I especially loved that each of them suffered a different timeline, depending on what choices they made at any one point in the story.
Cara is interesting and flawed. She flirts shamelessly with Dell, her handler, and doesn’t understand why they can’t move beyond where they are. I won’t share spoilers, but you find out why at some point in the book and it works really well.
She’s tenacious and she has good reason to be. Her childhood was not easy and she made some flawed choices that still impact how she sees the world and perceives the people in it.
I liked the politics and the twist in the story. The bad guys remain the bad guys (mostly), but you get a sense that they too are impacted by decisions made either by them or the governments around them in the different worlds.
There were points where I was slightly confused as to what was happening and when. The ending wasn’t as big as the first part of the book and I would’ve liked a bit more to have it be as big as the beginning. But, I was satisfied with the ending and it didn’t have this grand deus ex machina it could’ve.
To Sum Up (Too Late!)
The Space Between Worlds is a great multiverse sci-fi book that shows how it’s possible to create multiple universes that suffer the same problems that humanity creates. It also has a nice way of addressing class and identity differences without hammering the reader over the head with it. I enjoyed this book, so I gave it 4.5 stars.
About the Author
Micaiah Johnson was raised in California’s Mojave Desert surrounded by trees named Joshua and women who told stories.
She received her Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the University of California, Riverside and her Master of Fine Arts in fiction from Rutgers-Camden. She now studies American Literature at Vanderbilt University where she focuses on critical race theory… and automatons.
This fills the POC author square on my Fantasy 2023 Bingo card.