Book Review: Infinity Gate by M.R. Carey

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

Infinity Gate by M.R. Carey

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Book 1 of Pandominion

Publisher: Orbit (March 28, 2023)

Length: 544 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Infinity Gate is at least the sixth novel I’ve read by M.R. Carey, but probably the first that deals with “harder” sci-fi themes like artificial intelligence and the concept of an infinite number of worlds within a multiverse.

Enter the Pandominion, made up of roughly a million worlds—all versions of Earth, just in different dimensions—united through an alliance based on politics and trade. The story begins by informing readers that we will be following the lives of three characters: Hadiz Tambuwal, a brilliant scientist living in her version of Lagos, Nigeria which is a crumbling city plagued by an energy crisis and food shortages; Essien Nkanika, who exists in another version of Lagos, looking for a way to escape his poverty and indentured servitude; and finally, in a Lagos that is highly unlike any of the others, Topaz Tourmaline Fivehills is a sentient rabbit who makes a new friend at school—a relationship that will change the course of history for many worlds across the Pandominion.

We are first introduced to Hadiz, busy at work in a research station even as the world ends around her. Unwilling to let even the apocalypse interrupt her studies, she accidentally stumbles upon a way to travel to alternate universes, offering her a way off her dying world. This is how she ends up meeting Essien, with whom she begins a brief but passionate romance. She reveals to him her origins, as well as the secrets of her research into the multiverse. But Essien, who only has his own survival in mind, has other plans, setting in motion a series of events that lead to disastrous results. Much later on, we see how profoundly the ripples of these actions have spread and affected other worlds when we eventually meet Topaz and her new friend Dulcie on their version of Earth called Ut.

Infinity Gate is a veritable tome which the publisher lists at 544 pages long, which starts to make sense once you realize how much story is packed into it. Not only that, the content is dense and not anything I would consider light reading, but then that’s to be expected whenever you deal with subjects like the multiverse. The plot also eschews a more traditional trajectory, bouncing the reader’s attention to wherever the story requires it. To tell the truth, books featuring unconventional narrative structures tend to lose me quickly, but somehow Infinity Gate worked for me. It’s a testament to Carey’s talent and experience that the novel works as it does without falling apart or descending into a chaotic mess.

The characters had a lot to do with this. For example, much of Hadiz’s research and explanations into her methods of traversing the multiverse came across as mumbo jumbo, but it was thanks to the charisma of her personality that kept me interested in reading. Love them or hate them, each of Carey’s characters had backstories and motivations that made their decisions (even the less-than-wise ones) convincing, especially in Essien’s case. Then there’s Topaz, perhaps the most fascinating character, for obvious reasons. Paz lives on an Earth where evolution favored a different animal—in this case, rabbits—leading them to become the dominant sentient species.

Zooming out, there is an overall conflict tying together all these different characters and worlds affecting the Step technology used by the Pandominion to travel between the universes. These processes are closely regulated by an AI called the Registry and a military arm made up of super-soldiers known as the Cielo, and they of course are none too happy with the unsanctioned activities of Hadiz, vaulting her to the top of their most-wanted list. Much of the action from the book also stems from the discovery of the Ansurrection, an analogue to the Pandominion but made up of a collection of worlds ruled by intelligent machines. As to be expected when two great empires collide, war will be inevitable, and it’s anyone’s guess what will happen.

Now is also a good time for a warning that, as the first of a series, Infinity Gate only touches upon the oncoming war and will not offer any resolutions, even ending on a somewhat frustrating cliffhanger. That said, I suppose I can be forgiving considering that the overall setup was intriguing, establishing a solid foundation for the next book.

With Infinity Gate, M.R. Carey has proven he is a versatile writer by exploring what appears to be a new and quite a different direction for him. He hits all the right notes, providing a well-paced, entertaining, and smooth reading experience despite having to tackle some relatively complex ideas and theoretical concepts. I can’t wait to see what happens in the sequel.

22 Comments on “Book Review: Infinity Gate by M.R. Carey”

  1. The numbo jumbo often loses me to be honest. That’s what happened with The Atlas Six for me. So indeed it was good the characters had such charisma!


  2. This is a book that I need to pick up soon. It’s one of my backlist books from getting behind recently and so I can’t deny the length (and density) puts me off a little – but I’ve really liked all this author’s work so I just need to get over myself really.
    Lynn 😀


    • Yes, it is quite a lengthy book and DENSE! I can’t emphasize enough how much is stuff into this book, so I can understand not wanting to devote all that time and brain power especially if you’re not in the mood for that!


  3. A great review, Mogsy – although I wasn’t quite so impressed with this one as I have been his former offerings. However, I did love his treatment of his characters and I enjoyed the premise and the story – I definitely want to read the next book in the series:).


  4. I think I’d like to try this, but given it’s length and the fact it’s a series, I think I’d like to finish the Koli series first. 🙂


  5. Pingback: Bookshelf Roundup 04/30/23: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

  6. I usually like Carey’s works, though I must admit I haven’t even finished the Koli series. I guess I like his books but not love them, so I might wait to see your review of the sequel before I decide to grab this one 😉


    • I understand, I was not feeling the Koli series either, I stopped after the first book. I still much prefer his horror/paranormal like Girl with All the Gifts, Boy on the Bridge etc. but I’m glad he’s trying new genres and this one at least was a lot more readable for me than Koli 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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