Grade 6-9 Mariel Thanh O'Hara's clone-brother Dylan has vanished on a one-man expedition to the fringes of the solar system, and with the help of famed scientist Carlotta Xiang and 17-year-old Alfonso Petrov, she sets off to rescue him. Hardly have they arrived in the area before a rock-like piece of material that exists in a universe askew of our own sucks them up one by one into three unrelated subplots: Mariel finds herself in a space where the dimensions have different values; Carlotta witnesses the birth of the universe as she herself dies; Alfonso is suddenly a sailor in 1871, trappedwith the missing Dylanin a pulp horror story that he remembers having read once. Rather than draw these threads together (admittedly a challenge), Lupoff just cuts them short; within the last six pages Alfonso and the clones are abruptly reunited back in their own time, Alfonso and Mariel declare their love, and the disappearances of the rock and Carlotta are casually dismissed. Some intriguing ideas notwithstanding, the science here is marred with error: the explorers' small spacecraft is granted the natural gravity of a good-sized moon; and although the ecology of an orbiting colony is destroyed, the air remains conveniently breathable. Lupoff has done much better in the past; here he shows little respect for his readers. John Peters, New York Public Library
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