Sunday, January 12, 2014

Choose Your Own Adventure 21: Hyperspace

It's been over a month, but it's back to reading thirty year-old children's books and treating the results of that activity as equal parts academic dissertation, comedy amateur night and "everything sucks" critic. Last time out the book started with a 50% chance of death which insured a short run. Things are looking up this time, however. Hyperspace contains not only the usual "Warning!!!!" but also a "Special Note" and a "Special Warning!!!!" Yes, those were the actual punctuations. Basically the first pages are like the owner's manual of a car written by someone who just drank a dozen Jolt colas. "Limited Warranty!!!! Replacing the Windshield Wipers!!!!" That sort of thing.

The upshot of all this overly ridiculous literary emoting is I'll be dealing with parallel universes, there are no rules, there might be five or even possibly six dimensions and all the other expected "Baby's Introduction to Wheelchair Man Physics." We get an analogy of an ant that has lived its entire life in a balloon and suddenly the balloon pops. That's what we're up against. Properly girded on from all these admonitions, it's time to actually hit page one.


It turns out an Albert Einstein analogue is living in my neighborhood and one day I finally get my chance to hang out with this righteous science dude. Yes, there was a time when "I'd like to get to know others" was actually a priority in people's lives, but luckily we have finally destroyed such unnatural thought via technology. I'm eager to learn about the "higher mathematics" this learnin' guy has been dropping, but he suggests a book. You know what, no. 

You had me at "ice orbs."

He takes me to his laboratory and there's all kinds of ill science stuff, namely a giant glass globe and various levers. This is sort of like that thing in Switzerland that's teaching us a little more about the Big Bang, knowledge that is more than worth the risk of accidentally destroying our universe. This "hypolaser" is apparently capable of opening a rift in time space and entering other dimensions. The professor has devoted his entire life to this device, but lacks the balls to actually deploy it. Not wanting to be a bad guest, I'm supportive of his sissy who ran from the singularity tendencies. 

I'm all, "maybe you should ask other scientists and not some kid who is going to lose all interest in this silly stuff in a few months when puberty kicks in." He responds to this wise counsel by pulling a lever and vanishing. 

Simulating creation is easier than convincing people not to kill each other.

When faced with uncertainty and likely disaster pulling random levers seems like a sensible course of action. How about green? This results in literally nothing happening. Defeated, I slink away, realizing that complicated scientific procedures like pulling colored levers are best left to those with decades of training. Midway through the academic equivalent of the walk of shame something explodes behind me.

I run back into the house, which now smells like burnt-out wires and is a total mess. Incredibly, my science homie is sprawled out on the floor but otherwise unhurt. He concedes that his life's work was basically one giant bad idea and that he tampered in God's domain. Apparently he went to a universe "too horrible to describe" and this was enough to scare him off of hyperspace research. Please ignore the obvious parallels this story has with experimenting with mind-altering drugs.

"I can handle strange cards, but when they stick too..."

Instead of visiting mind-boggling alien dimensions my read-through was basically a warning not to take hallucinogens. Kind of disappointing. If I'd actually read the book he gave me it would have turned out to be a Choose Your Own Adventure story within a Choose Your Own Adventure. Whoa man, I'm freaking out! There's also a scene where you meet author Edward Packard, complete with a creepy illustration. I don't know if I can handle that sort of wildness, special warnings or not.

Shill Section  

Aaron Zehner is the author of "Posts from the Underground," now available in paperback and e-book. Read a free excerpt here.

His first novel The Foolchild Invention is also available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

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