cover image More Than Fire: A World of Tiers Novel

More Than Fire: A World of Tiers Novel

Philip Jose Farmer. Tor Books, $20.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85280-1

Hugo Award-winner Farmer ( Red Orc's Rage ) returns to his popular World of Tiers for a disappointing conclusion. Tiers (like Earth) is in a continuum of often very different ``pocket'' universes, created by the super-powerful Lords. These universes are connected through interdimensional gateways, like the one that 20th-century earthman Paul Janus Finnegan crossed to find the tiered world of Alofmethbin and become Kickaha the Trickster. Since then, Kickaha has lived an adventurous and heroic life trying to thwart Red Orc, who plans to recover the lost secrets of making and destroying universes in order to annihilate all other universes and create his own. For the most part, Kickaha and his lover, Anana, wander aimlessly from universe to universe until they're captured by Red Orc, who (in the manner of foolish villains everywhere) toys with them long enough for Kickaha to escape and force a final climactic confrontation. The World of Tiers novels were always mainly action and adventure--nothing deep--but here Farmer fails to deliver even that: the action is flat, the plot hopelessly contrived, the characters less engaging than in previous outings and the new worlds less vivid. And the prose is often worse than even pulp adventure should be: ``Sometimes he glimpsed art forms that seemed to have been originated by an insane brain. But that was because of his own cultural mindset.'' Even die-hard fans of this series will likely be disappointed. (Oct.)