Bryan Davis’s Beyond the Reflection’s Edge does have a weak point or two. I'll consider a few I doubt anyone else will have, except for my opener, which is downright obvious.
Confusion. Everyone's a triplet, and they aren't properly tagged:
"Bwa-ha-ha! I am Gordon Blue!"
"I'm Simon Red!"
"I'm Kelly Green!"
"Leave me alone, man--I'm colorblind."
Theology. As a rule, the theology is good, but there's at least one exception: the story idea itself. My late grandmother, a former Pentecostal minister, liked sci-fi. We discussed the idea of parallel worlds, and she considered them unworkable based on Heb 9:27 ("Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment"). In other words, you only go around once, not several times, once per universe. I'm not sure about that precise point, but the overall question is worthwhile: if there are people out there who are effectively clones, what's the point? In the story, it's possible (within limits, apparently) for counterparts to differ: Gordon Red observes that his Blue version has "a profiteering mindset" (p. 342) and says, "This troubled me greatly, because I had theorized that genetic duplicates would make identical decisions when presented with identical information" (ibid.). This has the amusing wrinkle that they are only materially, not spiritually, identical. So while they may have similar predispositions, they are individuals.
Okay, that's one in the eye for materialists: apparently there's more to people than their physical composition, suggesting a spiritual component. But if some people vary, given a few billion people over a few thousand years, anyway, how can the worlds remain so similar? While most of the divergences will be minor, they can't all be unimportant. So these should be like probability worlds: generally similar, but not identical. In fact, they wouldn't quite be probability worlds, even: most of those differ on some major point, such as who won some war. These three worlds should differ by an accretion of minor discrepancies.
But if that's so, what's the point? An atheist can have things happen by chance, but not a Christian--especially at this level. If there are three nearly identical worlds, it's because God created them that way. But why? It's not like God would hit the three button instead of the one button during creation. I won't call this issue insurmountable, but it does need to be addressed. Perhaps it will come up in a sequel.
Limited options. I think one reason I don't handle thrillers well is the same problem I have with interactive fiction--the text-based adventures that were popular back in the late seventies and early eighties. It wasn't enough to find a solution; you had to find one the author thought of, or it wouldn't work. There are sometimes solutions that seem obvious, but the character doesn't try them. This is a genre problem, not a flaw in this particular book.
But as a case in point, early in the story, Nathan clocks Mictar with a bat. Now, I think if I were in Nathan's place, I'd take an extra couple of seconds to finish the job.
I can practically hear the screams: it would be murder! Not at all: Mictar had already shown himself to be a homicidal loony, and worse yet, one with superhuman powers. So I'll follow up my shocking suggestion with another: this is the humbler alternative.
You see, there's a certain arrogance, even hubris, to the idea that you can keep on slapping the villain around without an innocent bystander paying for it. It's like realizing that someone's determined to shoot up a public facility and refusing to do more than play tag.
Now, I'll admit that my own characters rarely run into homicidal maniacs, so they generally avoid lethal force. Here, I don't see the option. Mictar is going to kill innocent people, and the only way to stop him is to remove him from the game permanently. Similarly with Gordon Blue, though incapacitation my be possible there. You can't expect to hold them off indefinitely. This is called recognizing your limitations.
[Addendum: Mr. Davis pointed out that Nathan attacked Mictar with a violin, while Nathan's tutor Clara appropriately wielded the bat. Another problem with writing a post after an eighteen-plus hour day, but sometimes I've no choice.
I should also mention that Mictar is a special case, both for me and for the book. He comes across as not particularly human for one thing. Indeed, after Mictar's self-described "brother" turned up, I began to doubt that Mictar could be killed by normal means. Also, while I do think there are places where Nathan should've incapacitated Gordon Blue, I don't think killing would be justified there. GB is merely a pawn; Mictar is the actual villain.]
Conclusion. I'll admit that these are rather esoteric points. So for the reasons I mentioned in my post yesterday, I do recommend this book highly. It's the beginning of a series, after all; there's plenty of time to resolve some of these matters.
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