cover image The Space Between Worlds

The Space Between Worlds

Micaiah Johnson. Del Rey, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-13505-1

Johnson bursts onto the scene with this thought-provoking, high-concept sci-fi debut that impresses with exceptional worldbuilding and a distinctive protagonist, but suffers under the strain of too much plot. The tale gets off to a strong start, introducing Caramenta, a queer, black woman with a complex family history, who uses tech that grants her access to the multiverse to collect data from alternate Earths that will benefit Earth 0, the “original.” Her exploration has one catch: the technology only allows her to visit Earths where the alternate version of herself has already died. Luckily (or perhaps unluckily) for Caramenta, her alternate selves die quite often, opening up 375 worlds for her to explore—and a discovery she makes on one of them could change the course of history. Though the ambitious plotting becomes difficult to untangle as the timelines, characters, and versions of Earth multiply, Johnson’s meditations on privilege and inequality ring true. Despite occasional melodramatics and some hazy political structures, this immersive, original adventure is sure to please readers looking for smart, diverse science fiction. Johnson is a writer to watch. (Aug.)