Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Dimensioneers By Doris Piserchia

'The orphan had always known she wasn't what people described as 'normal'. Whether merely precocious or a mutant freak, she had always been able to link minds with an equally weird mutated lion and skip into the worlds of the fourth dimension.
What the heck, it sure beat staying in school on Earth- that is until she realized that some of her fellow dimension-hoppers from other planets had more in mind than just a romp in the swamp.
They were launching an inter-dimensional war of imperialism, and she alone held the secret which could save her home world- if she could only escape the truant officer long enough to pull it off!'

Published by DAW Books 1982. Cover price $2.25.

Once again, look at that cover! I had to pick this bad boy up when I stumbled upon it in Kansas City, there are flying crocodiles ridden by knights with guns! But can the book itself match that cover? Half of it can, at least.

Dimensioneers started off poorly, but, by the time it reached its conclusion, it had mostly redeemed itself. The nameless protagonist is a teenage girl who has a telepathic link with a 'gamber', which is a mutated breed of lion whom she can ride into the fourth dimension (also known as D). The book starts out light—the tween hero and Wyala the psychic lion aimlessly explore random worlds whenever the orphan can cut school, 'skipping' through the fourth dimension to get from place to place. They unwittingly stumble upon the Kriff—a malevolent race of 'skippers' that conquer world after world, enslaving its races and forcing them to produce foodstuffs for their insatiable appetites. The Kriff are the dudes on the crocodiles, by the way.

It took me about ten chapters to get invested in this book, as the story doesn't pick up until halfway through, which luckily isn't much as the Dimensioneers tops out at 176 pages. The writing itself didn't help the pacing as I found myself rereading quite a few chapters in order to make any sense of them. Here is an example of one of the many grammatical pitfalls encountered in the Dimensioneers—(p61) 'As long as we didn't come out into 3 the Kriff needn't know we were anywhere about, so we stayed in D like a pair of ghosts and allowed only a molecule or two of our aura to seep through the rank atmosphere.' That is one ugly sentence, even to a guy who is pretty grammatically challenged.

The second half of the Dimensioneers is where everything (somewhat) comes together. Our nameless protagonist meets up with some 'patriots' who are fighting the Kriff on a small scale. They steal a bunch of guns from the U.S. Army surplus in Kansas. Lots of Kriff and some main characters die unexpectedly bloody deaths. It turns out that our protagonist doesn't have much of an issue with shooting Kriff, or stabbing them, or leading thousands of the guys to a messy end. There is a lot of gunplay, some graphic torture, and a little bit of wholesale slaughter thrown into a book I was slandering as 'young adult garbage' for the first 90 pages. I liked the bloody parts, can you tell?

Dimensioneers is not my favorite Pulp-A-Week to date, but it is brief and has an action-packed second half, so it was worth the read for a fan of the genre. If you pick this up somewhere, I would recommend skimming through the first sixty or so pages, though, as they are pretty fucking terrible.

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