Door into Nowhere

The modern book market is a fickle thing, and no one has a handle on all its changes yet. My publisher, Castalia House wisely decided to re-publish the Dragon Award winning Best Novel for 2016 SOMEWHITHER in a new multivolume format. The first volume is out now:


Just to avoid confusion: this is the same story as SOMEWHITHER, merely broken into neat, bite-sized bits.


The Door into Nowhere is a tale of a greater and darker evil with longer reach than anything Man can imagine, of despair without bounds, of pain beyond measure, and of the faith required to surmount all three. It is a story of inexorable destiny written in the stars and the stubborn courage that is required to defy it.

Ilya Muromets is an oversized young man whose father is often absent on mysterious Church missionary work that involves silver bullets, sacred lances, and black helicopters. Ilya works as a janitor for Professor Achitophel Dreadful of the Cryptozoological Museum of Scientific Curiosities, who warns Ilya of an unthinkably powerful enemy determined to rule the many worlds of the multiverse. And, as it happens, the Professor has left his transdimensional equipment in the basement of the Museum plugged-in and running….

So it is that Ilya, as he has secretly dreamed, is called upon to save the mad scientist’s beautiful daughter. With his squirrel gun, his grandfather’s sword, and his father’s crucifix, Ilya races to save the girl, and, incidentally, the world.

There seem to be no customer reviews, positive or negative, on Amazon. Help me out, please, dear readers!

Well, let me sneak in a few reviews from the previous edition:

Adventure across worlds!

The mad scientist has a beautiful daughter. Somewither is a tale of brilliant insanity where a young man travels across worlds to save the girl and the multiverse. Along the way, here is a kitchen-sink of encounters: Templars, interdimensional portals, golden universe-traveling dragon-ships, a topless tower into the heavens, vampires, Roman were-wolves, universe-conquering Babylonians, astrologer mages, a teenager ninja, giant headless monsters, a flying Dumbo brigade, mummies, indestructible men, an invisible archer, magic katanas, bows and other weapons, battle-zeppelins, witches, and other wonders. The whole work is so over the top that it’s in a category by itself. I highly recommend it.

Here is a negative review, just in case you share this reviewer’s taste, you can be warned:

Trash writing, with silly Catholic overtones.

OMG. On rare occasions, I do not finish a book I picked up. I was sorely tempted here. Instead, I bit the bullet and finished it off. It was a contest to see if the book could actually get any more pathetic (it did) and whether I could use it as a template for really, really bad writing, kind of a guideline on how not to write.

Actually, that is not a very good negative review. One cannot tell what the reviewer thinks is wrong with the book. One cannot even tell if the book being reviewed is fiction or non-fiction.

A bad negative review is one that could be used for any disliked book of any type. A good negative review tells you exactly what was wrong with the book and why, and gives the reader enough info to decide whether or not to buy.

By the bye, I am not listing any bad positive reviews here, either. They basically say that the customer liked the book, but do not say why. Such good reviews help my ego, but they will not help you decide if you want to buy the book, except, perhaps, from the number and enthusiasm of the voices. (As of this writing, there are SIXTY five-star reviews on Amazon. That is a healthy number for work as meek and obscure as mine.)

Let’s try again to find a good negative review:

What a Disaster!

Oh my.
The writer is clearly a very literate person. His writing, however, is a jumbled mess. Think of viewing every single Monty Python episode and movie, at twice normal speed, in reverse, at 150 dB, all together. It is unintelligible to the point of inducing nausea.
I am shocked that such slop could win a dragon award. How horrifying.

Hm. Still nothing. Trying a third time:

so I suppose that it could have got a lot better after the first few

to be honest I only read the free preview … so I suppose that it could have got a lot better after the first few pages … but I doubt it. Pretentious, clunky dialogue, heavy handed message fiction. Check check check. JCW’s fans will love it I’m sure … but good writing? Good rollicking SFF?

not so much.

Here I am actually trying to be fair and give some space to reviewers who have some reason to judge the book to be unworthy, but instead we get this: a guy who insults you, my readers. You should go out and buy two more copies of the book just to tweak his nose.

“Heavy-handed message fiction” is a bit of a surprise. Is there a message, heavy-handed or otherwise, in the first few pages? Why, yes, there is: falling in love with a mad scientist’s beautiful daughter will land our unkillable action hero into endless fight scenes, escapes, scraps, and adventures. 

Or how about this message: Teenaged boys think about girls alot. That one comes across very heavy-handedly.

His criticisms about pretentious writing and clunky dialog and such might apply with some justice to some of my other works, but not this one.  I would comment that he did not read the book, but he admits as much.

Fourth Time is the charm:

Desperately in need of a good editor

This is a work desperately in need of an editor. Wright’s earlier forays into (Western) multicultural mythology (Mists of Everness, Fugitives of Chaos) were tighter and more disciplined; here, he just runs amok, and the reader is left more numbed than intrigued by the references. Wright also spends pages and pages tediously describing the hero’s various struggles, when several paragraphs would have sufficed. Clearly aimed at “young adults,” the glib, first-person voice quickly gets grating as well.

Wright certainly has impressed in the past; his Golden Age trilogy was wildly inventive, and his Fugitives of Chaos a lot of fun. His more recent works have not looked appealing to me, and this was just plain exhausting.

Finally! That was a good negative review. The reader is warned of specifics: that the mad author has run amok, the editor did not whap me sharply on the nose with a rolled up newspaper, the action and adventure scenes are described at tedious length (as in an Indiana Jones movie), the literary references are benumbing (as in Lord of the Rings), and the glibness of the wit grates on one’s nerves (as in a Jeeves and Wooster story).

I think those are fair remarks, and if such things displease, this is not the yarn for you: buy some other work of mine.

To be fair and balanced, here is another positive review

Finally Finished a Literary Steak

Somewhither was not an easy book for me to finish. I generally read “popcorn-fiction,” whereas this book is a well-cooked steak: it requires time to cut the ideas into smaller chunks, to masticate the allegories being alluded to, and the reader is almost forced to stop every once and a while to simply savor the taste of what they’ve read.

John C. Wright’s Somewither is the story of a boy named Ilya whose father seems to be a secret agent working for the Vatican. Ilya, infatuated with a slightly older girl, finds a way to work for her father. Instead of a typical romance story, however, the girl’s father is a mad scientist, he creates a portal to another dimension, the girl gets sucked in, and Ilya rushes in to rescue her.

In this parallel dimension, Ilya encounters a never-ending series of parallel universes where various important biblical events did not happen. In one, the flood never happened, in another, Moses never challenged the Pharaoh and Egypt became the dominant force on earth, and in the “main universe” that the story takes place in, the Tower of Babel was never destroyed, and we see the end result of a cruel and powerful humanity whose sole purpose is conquest.

And you get all that heady info in the first 50 pages, or so!

Somewhither will not be for everyone, and that’s fine. As I said, I struggled to get started, I temporarily lost interest, and the entire time I read it, I felt my mind being stretched – which is not always a pleasant experience, since a nice, pleasant atrophy is easier. I think Mr. Wright wrote an excellent book, but I do believe that I need to workout my brain muscle more and then come back to reread this book.

One more positive review. In my opinion, a comparison to Lewis is too much praise, but if I do not argue when the customer is too sullen to enjoy a good book, I shan’t argue when the customer is too enthused. The same rule covers both cases: the customer is always right. Never argue with the boss.

John Wright is proving a worthy successor to CS Lewis.
 John Wright strikes again. This book is a worthy winner of the first Dragon Award. Had I read it before voting, I would have voted for it. A complex coming of age story, or the story of Christ across the multiverse? As I read it, I kept being reminded of Lewis’ space trilogy. Not that the plot or characters have much similarity, but time after time as I read, I thought back 40 years to when I first read especially That Hideous Strength.

Ilya makes his mistakes, as you would expect of a 16 year old, but his simple faith is never overcome.

Again Wright leaves us with a cliffhanger of an ending, and a wait to find out Ilya and his companions fate.

This is possibly the best book in KU right now, barring LotR. Worth getting KU just for this book!

Wait a minute. You did not vote for me? RELEASE THE KRAKEN!