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Midnight at the Well of Souls by Jack L.…

Midnight at the Well of Souls

by Jack L. Chalker

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Well World Saga (1), Well of Souls (1)

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Four space travelers enter a mysterious portal and are delivered to the Well World--an artificial planet, the surface of which is honeycombed with over 15000 controlled environments, each with its own native population. There they must embark on a quest to prevent two previous entries from gaining access to the world's control center and rewriting reality. The problem is that everyone who arrives on the Well World is given a new form and identity, and integrated into one of the native cultures.

There are interesting ideas here but in the end I felt like that was all there was. If you remove all the massive expository passages (often disguised as dialogue) there isn't much of a story left. Chalker's prose is also kind of clunky. It isn't a bad book, but it could have done with more refining. I enjoyed it for the feeling of pseudo-nostalgia it gave me (it reminded me of other works I'd read when I was much younger, particularly those of Piers Anthony and Alan Dean Foster--though Foster is much, much better.)

I don't know that I will continue with this series, but I might give one of his others a try. ( )
  chaosfox | Feb 22, 2019 |
I made the decision this year not to read novels over 250 pages, because I read so slowly, and I tend to lose interest. Plus, a lot of longer novels just really could be cut down a lot. But I started this one, and it actually kept me engaged. Big ideas. The plot certainly has a bit of "Forbidden Planet" element to - not copied at all, just in the same tradition. Anyway, it moves really well and is a lot of fun. No wonder this series was on every bookstore SF shelf I ever saw back in the 1980s. I'll probably read more from this series. ( )
  bibliosk8er | Aug 16, 2018 |
The Well World can be entered by a thousand gateways but everyone who enters gets turned into some strange creature. "There spacefarer Nathan Brazil found himself companioned by a batman, an amorous female centaur and a mermaid -- all once as human as he. Yet Nathan Brazil's metamorphosis was more terrifying than any of those...and his memory was coming back, bringing with it the secret of the Well World." ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 16, 2017 |
An all time favorite. Imaginative. Intelligent. And so open to follow ons(obviously, given the four plus three plus two that did follow...). ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
I’ve had this series on my bookshelves for several years and I’m not entirely sure why. I think Chalker was an awful writer, slapdash, fixated on a handful of not very original ideas, and content to pad out the thinnest of stories to trilogy, and longer, length. I don’t think he wrote a single good book, but he does have legions of fans. Which, I guess, makes him much like every other science fiction author. Anyway, Midnight at the Well of Souls is the first book in Chalker’s The Saga of the Well World series, which had reached seven books by the time Chalker died in 2005. A group of archaeological students studying a Markovian ruin on a dead world are murdered by their instructor after he has figured out how to access the Markovian world-computer. He, and the one surviving student, find themselves transported to the Well World. Some time later, spaceship captain Nathan Brazil is transporting a handful of passengers through space when he receives a distress call. It’s from that same world where the instructor murdered his students. And so Brazil and his passengers find themselves also in the Well World. Which is an artificial planet in another dimension or something, and is divided into 1,560 hexagons, each one 355 by 615 kms and containing a completely different ecosphere and associated alien races. Brazil and his passengers are scattered across different hexes, each transformed into a native of that hex. Well, except Brazil isn’t. Because it turns out he’s some sort of immortal, and he knows how to work the Well World’s controlling computer, which is just as well because the aforementioned instructor wants to use the controlling computer for his own ends (and which will in consequence destroy the real universe). So Brazil and allies must trek across half a dozen hexes, having adventures along the way, in order to reach the equatorial wall and the secret entrance to the control room. It’s science fiction by numbers, light on invention, characterisation, rigour and, er, substance. It has all the originality of a basement RPG session by a group of twentysomething nerds. I doubt I’ll be continuing with the rest of the series. ( )
  iansales | Jan 22, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jack L. Chalkerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Goodfellow, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rusiński, MichałTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Van Dongen,H.R.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Roger Zelazny,
Mark Owings,
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Suzy Tiffany

for entirely different reasons.
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Mass murders are usually all the more shocking because of the unexpected settings and the past character of the murderer.
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Book description

Entered by a thousand unsuspected gateways - built by a race lost in the clouds of time - the planet its dwellers called Well World turned beings of every kind into something else.

There a spacefarer Nathan Brazil found himself companioned by a batman, an enormous female centaur and a mermaid - all once as human as he.

Yet Nathan Brazil's metamorphosis was more terrifying than any of those ... and his memory was coming back, bringing with it the secret of the Well World.

For at the heart of the bizarre planet lay the goal of every of every being that had ever lived - and Nathan Brazil and his comrades were ... lucky? ... enough to find it!

The giant figure coming toward them was like nothing in the known Universe. An incredibly muscled human torso, topped by a head hairless except for a white walrus mustache, and sporting six arms melded to five-meter snake-like lower half.

It approached Brazil and his companions and signed them to remove their helmets. Reluctantly they did so, and found that the air was breathable.

"Now what?" Hain asked.

"Damned if I know," Brazil said honestly. "How do you say hello to a giant walrus-snake?"

"Well, I'll be god-damned!" the creature exclaimed, "if it isn't Nathan Brazil!"
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743435222, Mass Market Paperback)

Nathan Brazil, a cargo ship-for-hire owner, detours from his route to answer a distress call. A hidden stargate hurls him and his passengers to the Well World, the master control planet for the cosmos created by the now-gone godlike race who designed the universe. Now someone wants to find the Well of Souls to seize control of all the cosmos--and it's up to Nathan to stop them.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:34 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Nathan Brazil is an unassuming if cynical starship owner, carrying passengers and cargo for a living--hardly the sort of person to hold the fate of the entire universe in his hands. But when Nathan detours from his route to answer a distress call, a hidden stargate hurls him and his passengers to the Well World, the master control planet for the cosmos. Billions of years ago, a godlike race unlocked all the secrets of space and time and remade the universe according to their grand design. Then they vanished and left behind the Well World to maintain the pattern of the universe. Now someone is searching for the planet's hidden control room--the Well of Souls--to seize control of the cosmos. Nathan must stop them, but this planet causes bizarre metamorphoses in visitors, changing them into centaurs, mermaids, and giant insects seemingly at random. As a result, Nathan no longer recognizes his friends, let alone his unknown enemies. His task seems hopeless--until his long-suppressed memories begin to return and he realizes who he really is.… (more)

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