cover image More Walls Broken

More Walls Broken

Tim Powers. Subterranean, $25 (136p) ISBN 978-1-59606-886-5

Three professors fumble their way through opening gates to increasing disaster in Powers’s enjoyable novella. Young Clive Cobb and his two elder colleagues at California State University’s consciousness research department attempt to raise the ghost of their colleague Professor Vitrielli using a device Vitrielli invented. But they punch through to somewhere entirely wrong, bringing across someone else who is frighteningly familiar. Powers manages to pull off exquisite comic timing even when little that’s funny is happening. He likewise weaves in dark humor amid the professors’ nerve-racking attempts to fix the “walls” between realities. If the tropes inherent in crossing parallel dimensions are overly familiar, Powers (Alternate Routes) puts his own small twists on them, keeping readers guessing about how he’s going to clean up the mess—though some messes may not be cleanable. This quick tale is recommended for lovers of short fiction that tramples genre boundaries. Agent: Russell Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary. (Mar.)