At the heart of a bizarre planet lay the goal of every being that had ever lived.…
Below average in height and unprepossessing in appearance, Nathan Brazil is an unassuming if cynical starship owner, carrying passengers and cargo for a living - hardly the sort of person to hold the fate of the entire universe in his hands.
But when Nathan detours from his route to answer a distress call, a hidden stargate hurls him and his passengers to the Well World, the master control planet for the cosmos. Billions of years ago, a godlike race unlocked all the secrets of space and time and remade the universe according to their grand design. Then they vanished and left behind the Well World to maintain the pattern of the universe.
Now someone is searching for the planet’s hidden control room - the Well of Souls - to seize control of the cosmos. Nathan must stop them, but this planet causes bizarre metamorphoses in visitors, changing them into centaurs, mermaids, and giant insects seemingly at random. As a result, Nathan no longer recognizes his friends, let alone his unknown enemies. His task seems hopeless - until his long-suppressed memories begin to return and he realizes who he really is.
©1982 Jack L. Chalker (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"A big, bold book that takes traditional science fiction and turns it upside down!" (Leigh Brackett, science fiction author and screenwriter on The Empire Strikes Back)
It's been a while since I've penned a review - So much listening, and so little time.
However, I'm ready to begin another series of reviews on Audible scifi/fantasy selections.
So, let's begin with Jack L. Chalker's "Midnight At The Well Of Souls."
Why is this audiobook first? Simple. It's the beginning of a FANTASTIC series that will captivate you with a rich, rewarding listen, and have you wanting the next in the series, Exiles at the Well of Souls, which is also available.
This is the opening book for a VERY powerful series, one that pushes the boundaries of typical science fiction as you know it. Imagine, if you will...
The Well World: A world created by a long-vanished race, covered in vast, country-sized hexes, each housing a different intelligent alien species. Crossing the boundaries of the hexes can change the very air you breathe, the laws of physics, technology and even magic. Each hex represents the birthplace of that species, and some are at war with others. They can take over other hexes, enslave an adjacent hex's species, and can even forcibly swap hexes with another race. Creatures of myth, fantasy and nightmare vie for control of a planet they cannot leave, but can eventually rule. Even mankind occupies a hex on this planet.
One half of the planet houses carbon-based hexes, the other half alarmingly alien hexes, and each hex is the birthplace for these races and their migration into the universe eons ago. This world is countless light years away from our own, unknown, hidden and waiting for an opportunity to rewrite the universe to its own making.
The story begins with a host of human castaways that accidentally travel to the Well World, and are each randomly changed to a new species in different hexes.
It is all part of a very large story that will soar across the surface of the Well World in its telling, as many races and hexes to vie for a rare and valuable treasure that can change the Well World and our universe forever!
Despite all this, I haven't given away any spoilers whatsoever!
Chalker's Midnight At The Well Of Souls was so well received when it was first published, that he went on to write many more novels to expand the stories both upon the Well World, and even light years beyond it. Be careful, Audible listener. Once you travel down this wonderful rabbit hole, you might very well not turn back! It truly is that amazing.
So, step through the portal, human, and be changed forever!
This is the first book in a wonderfully imaginative series that takes me back to my early teenage years when I first discovered it. Chalker creates a weird and detailed setting for the novel and the characters are memorable. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys intelligent science fiction stories.
Sci-fi/Fantasy geek :)
I REALLY liked this book in the beginning. I liked it pretty good in the middle. I liked it well enough to try to finish it by three quarters. I didn't really like it at the end.
Why? It's hard to say exactly, but it started out as a cool story with a interesting concept, a wide array of characters and a goodly amount of mystery. Near the end, most of the mystery was gone, the characters got stale, the story broke down, and things just went off the sci-fi rails.
Maybe it was just my mood, the phase of the moon, or maybe this review is right. In any case, it would be a worthwhile read just for the first half, very inventive! The narration is very good as well.
With the best of them.
One of the greatest Sci Fi series ever written. Years scince I have read them and still as good as ever - can't wait for the rest of the series to be on Audible. Great narrator hope he stays on for the rest of them.
No but will be looking him up to see what else he has read.
The grandest concept in sci fi for years - totally unique.
This is the first book in the Well World series and has always been one of my favorites
He does a great job of bringing the most out of the individual characters.
I'm so happy that Audible has decided to do the Well World series. I wrote about a year ago suggesting these books and here they are.
I loved this series back in the 80s when I was a teenager, but like so much Sci Fi from then it does not hold up well against the works of modern writers like Peter F. Hamilton, Alastair Reynolds, etc.. The world/universe is almost cartoonish and the villains rather laughable and some of the characters actions are inconsistent or unbelievable. I would call this more Science Fantasy than Science Fiction.
I'm actually listening to Exiles at Well of Souls to see if it gets any better...so far it has not.
Deep, deep, and deep!
When I was a teenager this would probably have been exciting. Not up to the standard of Larry Niven, but not bad. But I'm not 14 any more.
The story was hackneyed and the characters and the science were both laughable. Technology has moved on and left this book behind in many areas, in other ways the science is what it should be in SciFi... inexplicable.
In science fiction it is a mistake to try to explain how your science works, because your, most likely dumb, explanations don't bear any scrutiny and that breaks the scientifically inclined reader out of the story. The animal sex and the teenage boy like preoccupation with the sexual organs of anything female were really amusing in a pathetic sort of way. By the way, the bit on the outside is the vulva, the vagina is inside, and it's not a cavity, that's just a bad word for it. Did the author have no experience of anything female?
Anyway, there's a huge and nasty case of deus ex machina at the end, the sort of 'rocks fall, everybody dies' ending that authors despise.
The delivery was pretty wooden, like the reader couldn't believe he was reading this, any more than I could believe I paid money for it.
A joyous romp.
The characters kept me interested, the description of the well world reminds me of a Dyson Sphere as I have always seen one in my head and so makes the idea plausible.
I read the well world saga in my teens and have kept copies of them around me ever since. I love the characters and the seemingly infinite forms of life the well world contains.
First let me start by say I am a huge Jack Chalker fan and have read all of his series, and this series, at least three times. I do not believe Peter Macon was the best choice due to his deep voice and inability to change his tone a whole lot. I do think he did a good job though. The story is written in such a way that most of the time you know who is speaking, but it would have been nice to have a bit of variety with the various characters. I did still enjoy listening to it and would recomend the book.
I work full time in Financial Services, teach part time, listen to music (a lot) and love Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction.
Really Good Sci-Fi
Hard to say...Chalkers' overall writing style was breezy, enjoyable and entertaining. The entire book is part adventure, sci-fi, fantasy and character development. I found myself getting drawn in bit by bit and didn't want it to end. Thankfully there are others in this series.
At times it was stilted...maybe the performance demanded it..overall I liked him a lot
Yes...I just never do that with audible. I usually listen to books in my car and at the gym.
I don't understand why Chalker was not more popular and well known. This writing is on par with early Asimov and the style is reminiscent of classic science fiction. This is entertaining, fast paced, and utterly enjoyable. Something that will let you relax and take you out of your every day. Loved it.
"Hmmmm, different certainly"
It started well and I was interested but then it spent so long simply describing each different realm and creature. The story then got a bit lost in the descriptions.
The narration was fine.
Maybe it improves at the end - I didn't get that far, I did try to!
It is the first audio book I gave up on at just over half way. Guess I need a bit more action!
"Finally! And gald it's unabridged"
I am already on my third listen through of the best Jack L Chalker there is! I am so glad this is unabridged. While Peter Macon does an ok but uninspiring read, the drama of Chalker's original story comes through. Picking up a mix of mythology and new creatures Chalker manages to convey the mystery of a world where every country is ruled by different sentient beings and the main characters are transformed while still reflecting their innermost beings.
I can't wait for the next installments.
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