In regards to fairness, I should mention that I was given a free e-copy of Escaping Infinity by author Richard Paolinelli.
When I was handed the book, I wasn’t quite certain what to expect, even when I saw the description on Amazon.
As the description reads …
Thousands have checked into the Infinity Hotel over the years. None of them have ever checked out.
Peter Childress and Charlie Womack are successful engineers on their way to Phoenix for an important presentation. But one of Charlie’s infamous “shortcuts” has gotten them good and lost once again. As night falls, the pair stumble across the Infinity Hotel and the promise of a meal, fuel and a good night’s sleep before starting off fresh in the morning is too good to pass up.
But while Charlie immediately takes to the hotel’s amazing amenities, Peter begins to uncover some of the hotel’s dark secrets – a seemingly unlimited number of floors, guests that appear out of time and place and a next morning that never seems to come. Worse still, the entrance to the Infinity has disappeared and no other apparent exit back to the outside world is in sight.
Now, under the watchful eyes of the hotel’s manager and front desk clerk, Peter searches for a way back out and uncovers the horrible truth behind the mystery of the Infinity Hotel.
It almost reads like a sci-fi The Hotel California as done in the Twilight Zone. If you’re worried that the description will spoil the plot, the flap copy only covers up to chapter 2. Our hero has already started to peace together that the hotel is bigger on the inside by this point…Yes. It’s bigger on the inside. Just wait until you get to the Star Trek references.
The style is very novel-like. It’s not Victor Hugo, but a modern novel, but Richard is very much an artist who has no pretensions. The novel is smart and well-thought-out, a mystery that plays perfectly fair, and gives the reader all of the pieces and parts to figure out what the bloody blue heck is going on. But you won’t figure it out.
Also, every named character has a back story. There’s at least one chapter of history for almost every named character.
I will say that going from the prologue to chapter 1 is a tad disorienting, as it goes from space opera, David Weber style, to a road trip in the South West. The last 10% of the book could have been an additional novel by itself, with what it pulled off. But the ending we got gave a complete, satisfying conclusion to the story, the characters, and the world that’s been established. And to some degree, it’s done something one a single novel that David Weber hasn’t even accomplished over the course of half a dozen books.
The ending we’re given is possibly one of the most Superversive, uplifting, hopeful endings you will ever see in a science fiction novel.
At the end of the day, this book starts out like David Weber, continued as written by Rod Serling, and ends with the epic scope of John C. Wright. I won’t say that Paolinelli is in Wright’s league just yet. Give him another book or two, and expect Wright to have serious competition in the “awe-inspiring scale” category.
For JCW, I would give a 6/5 if I could. Richard will just have to settle with a 5/5.
Escaping Infinity is an awesome book, and I look forward to Paolinelli’s next work.