Modern science invents a portal to an Earth-like parallel world ready for colonization—but there’s a serious complication: in this new world, utterances become real.
Going through the looking glass? In author Ivory’s sci-fi parable, it’s actually a “Dimensional Mirror,” an array of high-speed rotating reflective surfaces and lasers, perfected at a Columbus, Ohio, research facility. The contraption allows maverick scientist Jerry Jergensen to create a doorway into an alternate universe. Through the portal there exists an unspoiled, Earth-like planet, complete with a handful of placid, humanlike inhabitants who share a collective mind. But Dabar, as the place is called, comes with new reality. Careless words, lies, hyperbole—and especially anxiety and profanity (“hell,” in particular)—dangerously alter the very fabric of the place, leading to the deaths of many on Jergensen’s exploration teams. Only Jergensen is receptive enough to warnings by the Dabar natives; in an intriguing, subtle Christian evangelical touch, Jergensen is married to a sexy, avid churchgoer and groks from her mindset the literal importance of prayer. It takes a few more casualties, but a military-industrial colonization of Dabar is soon underway, and Jergensen is in even further over his head. But have people really learned to control their baser instincts—not to mention their tongues—to make a better world? Reading at times like a brainier, Rod Serling–esque version of Stargate’s movie/TV franchise, Ivory’s first novel stays nicely on-message and away from ostentatious genre insertions—nobody talks into existence, say, a Klingon battlecruiser. The result is a compelling what-if tale that delivers a satisfyingly wise finale.
Loose lips sink ships and worse in this intriguing sci-fi getaway.