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)
This book is relevant today after so many years in the way it looks at possible future consequences of technology on society, and then escapes a misery of collectives into the individualistic well world, with its plethora of different aliens to meet. At the core of the concept is quantum mechanics, which people probably know better today than when this book first came out. Its entertaining, it introduces important heady topics, and then carries you away into the well world, free of all those considerations to follow a gripping plot.
When the well of souls is first found, you transit the psy-fi world into the fantasy world.
I like Peters voice.
Been waiting for these books to hit Audible. Sure hope the rest of the series are in the making.
The audio books I get tend to be either 1) scifi or 2) things for my husband and me to listen to on long road trips--humor or history
I just re-read this book [to be accurate, I should say I listened to it as an audio book] and have to say it wasn’t quite as good as I remembered it being. Reminiscent of both the Ringworld and Riverworld books, this novel sets up a premise that allows the author to jam together a bunch of things that would not normally be side-by-side, and then takes the reader on an extensive tour. Sure, the worldbuilding is impressive, but somehow the sum is not greater than the parts.
I do think this book would be a good introduction to scifi for an early teen. There are quite a few interesting ideas, including one passage in which a character ruminates on whether plant life would be more likely to develop intellectually than animal life, because plants don’t have to spend so much of their time looking for food. There are also several neat passages in which Chalker does a great job describing how the world would look through alien eyes—an insect and an antelope are the ones I recall the most vividly. Also, different types of reproduction, including sexual and non-sexual, are explained, most memorably one passage in which one of the main characters undergoes “twinning.” Some of the final questions posed (such as how does any one person know what changes could put the world on the “right” track) were concepts a teenager might find mind-blowing, but many adults will find overly preachy.
About that ending: I wish the resolution would have veered more obviously into the scientific realm, the theoretical physics behind multiverses and universal constants. Was 1978 too early for that? I don’t know. As it is, the book’s resolution felt more like hand-wavium and seemed a paltry payoff for such a long book.
[Because the book was so long, and the narration so slow, I listened to this at 1.25 speed and that seemed just fine.]
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 read pretty much everything Chalker wrote back in the 80's as a teen, and enjoyed this series then as well. I sort of expected that I would find it more childish or unsophisticated reading it as an adult. I was completely wrong. Still an excellent book, and definitely his best series. Wonderful character development, a highly original plot, and the voice acting and recording quality are excellent 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.
System and software engineer from the UK now living and working in Silicon Valley.
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.
This is good SciFi. It has a surprisingly moral twist, which depending on your temperament, could be good or bad. Overall, I enjoyed it quite bit and would generally suggest it.
I found it a little hard to follow, maybe because of listening vs. reading. I didn't find myself getting sucked in to the story. The narrator did a good job but I found his deep voice to be distracting at times.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.