Infinity Gate is the latest book by M.R. Carey of The Girl With All The Gifts and The Book of Koli fame. It is a story about infinite Earths, all separated by thin barriers of parallel realities, and the people who pass between them. It is a baton race of human suffering that explores the virtues of capitalism in a scenario where infinite expansion is possible. Spoiler alert, it still results in endless suffering in order to give the person on top a meaningless trophy. It is a book with a bizarre structure that tells a story that I ultimately feel works but with a few caveats along the way.
Infinity Gate’s narrative is a bit chaotic to summarize because it is constantly changing as the book goes on and I don’t want to spoil too much. We open with physicist Hadiz Tambuwal, a brilliant woman on a dying Earth. Endless wars and conflict (capitalism) have exhausted the biosphere and literally everything is dying. Hadiz locks herself in her elite lab and decides to go out how she lived – doing science. She eventually discovers how to step between parallel Earths and realizes there are infinite resources, space, and opportunity for everyone and everything is saved! That is when she immediately runs into the Pandominion and is shot in the face for stepping into their slice of infinity. Stand your ground people.
Thus begins a weird baton pass of narrative control where the story is handed from POV to POV, rarely going back, exploring the infinite worlds and the people who live in them. Pretty quickly after we meet the Pandominion, and learn about their million-world empire, the empire runs into an unknown planet of AI beings and immediately starts a war that starts ripping apart reality. From there we move between a number of small people in these realities and watch how even with infinite of everything they are made to toil and fight in misery to the tune of the elite.
This book is fascinating in its conception, interesting in its ideas, and unwieldy in its execution. To begin with, I would bet money that Carey read some sort of physics book before writing in order to educate himself. I say this because the first 10% reads like one of the driest textbooks I have ever read, and I majored in physics. Thankfully this doesn’t persist for very long but it makes getting momentum going particularly difficult. In addition, while the pass between POVs makes for a thematically satisfying structure, it also creates other issues. Without a centralized protagonist and objective to align the story to the book it can often feel aimless, wandering from person to person. And because we are strapped into single POVs for chunks of time it can mean that less appealing POVs can make sections of the book drag when the reader isn’t given much reprieve.
That being said, all of this is offset by the interesting deep-dive into the sins of capitalism. It is in the very nature of capitalist systems to consume hungrily, thereby ruining everything it touches by its very nature. We see this as these various empires, who could expand infinitely in opposite directions, wage an interdimensional war because they want THOSE resources. They simply can’t leave the others alone, sealing themselves in a prisoner’s dilemma: what if they tried to commit the crimes we are planning back on us?
In the end, Infinity Gate was an interesting read but one I struggled a bit to get through. Its ideas and storytelling are unique, but its structure makes it a difficult read. I am curious to see where the series goes next, this is the kind of story where the ending feels particularly important. What will Carey’s moral solution to this Rubix cube of misery be I wonder.
Rating: Infinity Gate – 7.0/10
An ARC of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts on this book are my own.