Cover Image: Doors of Sleep

Doors of Sleep

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Member Reviews

The idea was better than the book. I love unique and interesting worlds, and the possibility of exploring a many new and exciting settings was intriguing. The writing itself was enjoyable, the characters somewhat relatable, but the ending left much to be desired. Not a book I would read again nor keep on the shelf.
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En el mercado español conocemos a Tim Pratt bastante bien. Gracias a la desaparecida editorial Fata Libelli y al testigo recogido por el imprescindible blog Cuentos Para Algernon hemos tenido la oportunidad de leer diversos cuentos y relatos de este autor norteamericano. En los últimos años ha sido La Máquina que hace Ping quien ha traído a nuestro país no solo recopilaciones de estas historias cortas sino también algunas de sus novelas. Un ejemplo es Motores de Sangre, inicio de serie de fantasía urbana o, más recientemente, la independiente Los Herederos de Grace.

En su idioma original el ritmo de publicación de Pratt es frenético y además de una trilogía space opera publicada en los últimos años y la frecuente aparición de nuevos cuentos, en 2021 ha visto la luz el inicio de una nueva saga de ciencia ficción. Con los mundos paralelos como base para la historia, Doors of Sleep es el inicio de una saga protagonizada por Zax Delatree cuya segunda entrega está prevista para el próximo 2022.

Cada vez que Zax Delatree duerme su cuerpo se traslada a un nuevo universo. En el momento que comenzamos la novela Zax lleva prácticamente tres años viajando de uno a otro, haciendo un total de casi mil distintos universos. En ningún momento ha sido capaz de volver a su universo de origen y nunca sabe qué sorpresas le va a deparar su siguiente despertar. La primera mitad de la novela se traduce en un continuo viajar de un universo a otro donde Pratt despliega mundos completamente distintos, unos más tranquilos, otros más salvajes. Unos cálidos, otros fríos. Unos nos recuerdan a nuestro pasado medieval, otro completamente futuristas. Muchos de ellos son descritos superficialmente ya que el paso de Zax por ellos es testimonial, algo que en cierta manera puede no ser del gusto de todos los lectores.
Su habilidad no se reduce solo a que él mismo despierte en un nuevo mundo. Todo aquello con lo que este en contacto, sea un objeto en un bolsillo o una persona abrazada, viajaran al siguiente universo junto a Zax. En uno de estos mundos es donde conoce a Minna, un personaje que lo acompañará en la novela y que aporta cierto sentido común a las acciones de un Zax demasiado noble para algunos de los encuentros que va teniendo en cada uno de estos mundos. También añade un componente emocional a la historia que da cierto sentido a muchos actos del protagonista según avanza la trama.

En uno de estos mundos, hace meses, tuvo un encuentro con quien más adelante se conocerá como el Lector, un personaje intrigado por las capacidades de Zax y que intentará por todos los medios conseguir igualarlas y mejorarlas con objeto de gobernar en aquellos mundos donde se traslade. Entre sus investigaciones, conseguir un suero que permita dormirse al instante para evitar peligros inmediatos o alguna medicina que permita alargar el tiempo sin dormir para poder estar más tiempo en cada uno de los mundos.

En contra de Doors of Sleep juega la excesiva parte introductoria de la novela que se alarga durante casi toda la primera mitad y donde apenas pasan más cosas que ir de mundo en mundo conociendo un poco mejor al protagonista y entender el mecanismo de estos viajes. Llega un momento en que todo se convierte en un pasar mundos hasta que la trama con el Lector despega. Es entonces cuando la segunda mitad del libro es un frenesí de acción que funciona a la perfección como lectura veraniega. En cualquier caso, hablamos de una novela relativamente superficial en muchos de los temas que toca en favor de una trama veloz, llena de acción y con situaciones tan divertidas como trágicas.

Doors of Sleep es un libro cuyos capítulos pasan casi sin darse cuenta. Los mundos por los que iremos viajando y las situaciones con las que Zax se encontrará son muy variadas y hace que las casi trecientas páginas de esta historia pasen sin darnos casi cuenta. Una novela que consigue que pasemos un rato divertido sin tener que comernos la cabeza. Quedo a la espera de la segunda parte.
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I’ve always loved stories that take place on one fantastically alien world after another, so I grabbed this book on the dual strengths of its author (Tim Pratt, master of space drama) and its premise. Every time Zax Delatree falls asleep, he travels to a different multiverse. Some worlds are eerily similar to his own highly technological world where he facilitates harmony, but others are devoid of life or filled with intelligent, carnivorous life, or gigantic gardens or bombed-out cities. He’s been traveling this way for a few years now, with no idea how or why. From time to time, he’s acquired companions, one of whom created a linguistic virus that allows Zax to understand the languages he encounters, and another, a farmer who can communicate with and control plant life, and yet another, a crystalline intelligence desperate for new horizons. Quickly Zax shifts from unwilling (and insomniac) tourist to fugitive. Someone’s on his trail, able to track him across multiverses, and that someone has just teamed up with a murderous, shape-shifting fungus.

The story is at once dramatic, playful, grim, inventive, and just plain fascinating. Zax sometimes reminds me of 
Doctor Who or The Flying Dutchman With a Heart of Gold. I definitely want to keep traveling with him!
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Doors of Sleep had a ton of potential for me. I mean the bits of quality story design and  that make up the core of it are overwhelmingly obscured by a frustrating main character and slow build up grind, then layered over by a thick paste of confusion, inconsistent rules. Underwhelming to say the least.
Full review to come on my YouTube channel: Holly Hearts Books
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I really enjoyed Tim Pratt’s Axiom series, a far future space opera book, so I was intrigued to try this one, a very different type of science fiction novel. The book is in the form a journal written by Zax, who for the last few years, every time he falls asleep, wakes up in a totally different universe. And we’re not just talking a multi-verse where things are a tiny bit different like The Midnight Library, but totally and utterly different places with different societies, creatures, etc. - and even Zax himself is definitely not from our world. This book covers a very eventful stretch of time, in which he finds several new companions and encounters an old foe from his past. This book was just so creative and interesting and different, and I couldn’t have loved some of the characters more. I will say that I had mixed feelings in getting to the end and finding out it was not over yet. On the one hand, I felt like we had gotten a complete story and would have been happy to leave it there rather than a cliffhanger promising to take things in a different direction for the next book. But on the other hand, I enjoyed the characters and the writing enough that I would be happy to revisit them again.
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A masterpiece, Tim Pratt is one of the greatest narrators of our time. I imagine his work on TV and my mind fully explodes, his work is so imaginative I feel bad it's "only readers" who enjoy it. Captivating, wonderful and very original.
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Doors of Sleep left me wanting more in all the right ways.

Tim Pratt has created such an unique and interesting read with Doors of Sleep. I can't say I have ever read a book quite like it. First of all due to the very plot and setting of the book Pratt has had to craft a whole bunch of worlds and they are all to a nicely detailed level. There are a huge number of worlds and some breeze past in the blink of an eye but the author still gives us a brief description of each one which really helped me believe the main character, Zax, was travelling through vast numbers of universes. 

A second aspect of Doors of Sleep that was really intriguing is the choice of characters that accompany Zax throughout the book. All were well put together and relatable and I was surprised at just how much I connected with a character called Minna. Minna is an alien and has led a very different life on a very different planet to Earth, or at least the origin planet of Zax, so by that understanding we have very little in common and a connection would be hard to establish. However, I did become emotionally attached to her and her backstory is really touching. Full of love and terror. 

The ending of Doors of Sleep wraps up the story nicely and had me on the edge of my seat. There is one section towards the end that really took me by surprise. NO SPLOIERS here so don't worry. All I will say is that the final section is so, so good and left me wanting more info. So if Angry Robot are reading this, PLEASE let Tim Pratt add more to this fantastic universe. 

There is a small section in the middle of the book where our character is travelling through worlds at a fast rate and  I am guilty of skim reading this section. Don't get me wrong it is a good section and does add to the setting however I felt it went on a little too long for my liking. This wasn't in the realms of a DNF by any means it's just... I was a little too impatient to get back to the action.

Okay so I want to mention the integral aspect of the plot and that is the fact that every time Zax falls asleep he travels to a different world. As mentioned in the synopsis Zax has zero control on where he ends up and that adds a restriction to what options are available to him during his travels. This I can only see as a self imposed restriction by the author but he uses this as an advantage and really creates a uniqueness I have not seen before in a book. The very idea of creating a character baffles my mind but the outcome is brilliant and highly entertaining. 

To sum up Doors of Sleep is a very good read and one that I will recommend to others that love Sci-Fi and are a little tired of the same old tropes and plots that fill the genre. I really hope to read more of Pratt's work and I hope we get to revisit Zax and company.
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Unfortunately, I really ended up struggling with this book. Although I loved the concept so much as sci-fi and alternative dimensions has been something that always interest me, I just couldn't connect with this story. I think where this went wrong for me was that we can instantly dumped straight into such a complex world that dues to the multiple dimensions is constantly shifting without enough time for me as a reader to really get a grasp before the story is twisted from my hand again and again.  There is some wonderful descriptions of these different worlds but I think not enough time actually spent explaining a lot of key story points that would make the book as a whole more digestible for it's readers.  I think this has potential to be an amazing read due to the setting and concept but the story needs to slow down and develop some more in between all this world jumping.
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En esta ocasión disfrutaremos de la reseña de la última obra de Tim Pratt de la mano de un auténtico experto en el tema, Antonio Díaz. Muchas gracias a Antonio por hacernos un hueco en su agenda para comentar este libro. Espero que disfrutéis de sus comentarios.


Nadie que me conozca quedará sorprendido si digo que soy un gran fan de Tim Pratt,
tanto en su obra corta (tan prolífica como variada y excelente), como en su obra larga.
Cuando anunció que publicaría una novela basada en un personaje que había
protagonizado varios de sus mejores relatos del 2019 me subí inmediatamente al tren del
hype.


La sinopsis de Doors of Sleep no puede ser más atrayente: Zax es un humano normal y
corriente que, cada vez que duerme, cambia de universo. No sabe dónde va y no parece
que pueda controlar su destino. El potencial narrativo es, por su propia definición, infinito.
Genera una incertidumbre, no sólo en el propio Zax, sino también en el lector, no saber
cuál será ese próximo destino. Incluso aunque el cruce entre universos se dé en unas
circunstancias controladas, al girar la página podemos encontrarnos en lugares muy
dispares, fruto de una imaginación muy viva. Al menos esto es lo que me digo para
justificar que me ventilé la novela en tan sólo dos días (acabando uno de ellos a una hora
indecente).


Cuando Pratt decidió escribir Doors of Sleep, no desperdició ni una palabra y canibalizó
los relatos que ya había escrito para tejerlos dentro del nuevo texto. En mi opinión es todo
un acierto ya que su calidad es innegable. También decidió explorar los límites del poder
del personaje para sentar unas reglas claras: cambia de universo cuando pierde la
consciencia, no sólo cuando duerme; cuando llega a un nuevo destino siempre es a un
lugar donde no se encuentre en un peligro inmediato y define las condiciones que se tienen que cumplir para que una persona puede decidir acompañarle en su viaje astral.


La novela está escrita como si fuera el diario personal de Zax, con la salvedad de que no
siempre se encuentra escrito por él. Es un recurso curioso que permite a Pratt una cierta
flexibilidad para jugar con el punto de vista manteniendo un estilo cercano a Zax.
A pesar de llevar un tiempo viviendo de una forma tan extrema, sin establecerse en
ningún lugar, dificultando todas sus relaciones personales, sin elegir a donde va, sin poder
repetir universo, viviendo de lo que puede forrajear en los lugares más benignos (un
destino sin peligro inmediato no te asegura que haya algo comestible); Zax es un
idealista. En su mundo original era un trabajador social que resolvía los conflictos entre
las personas mediante la empatía y la diplomacia y eso lo convierte en un adalid del buen
rollo.


Éste carácter generalmente bondadoso e indudablemente honesto e idealista provoca que
esta novela se parezca más a Heirs of Grace que a la saga de Marla Mason (que es más
cruda y definitivamente más bruta). Esta decisión choca hasta cierto punto con el germen
de la novela: saltar de universo en universo sin tener ningún control llevaría a cualquiera a
la desesperación más absoluta. Eso no quiere decir que no pasen cosas malas (ni mucho
menos), pero Doors of Sleep puede encuadrarse sin dudar en el movimiento hopepunk.
Puede que haya momentos de miseria pero siempre se encaran con un cariz positivo. En cualquier caso es una novela ‘100% Pratt’ y rebosa su estilo por los cuatro costados.


Debido al constante salto entre universos y las dificultades para transportar gente con él
(gente que jamás podría volver a su universo original) el plantel de personajes secundarios no es especialmente grande. Eso permite a Pratt dedicar más tiempo en escena para estar bien perfilados y logra que nos encariñemos de ellos o los odiemos respectivamente.

Mi principal crítica iría dirigida a un último acto algo desigual, con una recta final cerrando el nudo principal del libro de forma algo apresurada y con un último capítulo que abre claramente la puerta a una continuación (o continuaciones). Hubiera preferido, sino una obra autoconclusiva, sí que Pratt hubiera dedicado alguna página más a perfilar el desenlace para que llenase algo más al lector. Las prisas por desencadenar una tensión creciente le han jugado una mala pasada.


Sin embargo, después de la decepción que me supuso The Wrong Stars, la primera
novela de su trilogía de ciencia ficción Axiom, y a pesar de las buenas sensaciones de los
relatos seminales, me enfrenté a esta novela con una cierta cautela. He de decir que he
quedado muy satisfecho con Doors of Sleep que, sin dejar de ser una novela ligera y más
orientada como divertimento, he disfrutado sin ambages.
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Tim Pratt delivers another exceptional sci-fi story, this time it’s all about technological utopias that Zax finds via sleep portals. This is a new concept for me to read about and I really enjoyed the world and life that Pratt created.
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This book just wasn't to my liking at all. I appreciate the fact that this isn't normally the genre I read, but even saying that the book was very monotonous. I give the author credit for being able to imagine so many different worlds to have his main character Zax sleep into, but there was no suspense, tension or thrills that such sleep journeys would should inevitably create. The whole plot just seemed very bland.
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Doors of Sleep follows Zax Delatree through many worlds, each time he falls asleep he awakens in a new world. Constantly travelling, meeting friends and making enemies along the way, as he tries to leave a little bit of himself and make each world a better place when he can. 

I went in to Doors of Sleep a little blind, just knowing it involved Zax travelling. What I didn’t expect was such a beautiful story of friendship, splashed across dozens, hundreds of different worlds. Told through journal entries that Zax has been writing, you can an in-depth look at how he feels as he wakes each day in a new place, wondering how this happened, and what he can do. I found the world building just fantastic, even though we get brief glimpses at each place, some a little more than others, the creativity that went in to each place was amazing, how they connected and differed, how Zax feels about each one, and the varying levels of safety and beauty, and danger. 

Despite being primarily told from Zax, his friends were the real winners of this novel. Minna was such a delightful, brilliant, badass of a character, and the way she adapated and learned was so engaging, just the kind of character everyone would want to be - that’s not even including all of her very specific skills, I just want to be like her for her brilliant and caring ways. 

My biggest complaint about Doors of Sleep is there is a brief mention of talking cats, and how they could have had one as a companion. I won’t lie that I’m hurt we didn’t get talking cat companions. I think it would have brought a welcomed level of sass to the friend group, and I’m just a sucker for animal companions. So, not a real complaint, I just want every book to have sassy animal companions. I do wish we could have spent more time on each world, but that would have made this a ridiculously large book, so maybe one day we’ll see some novellas of some of the other worlds. 

I adored this book, and think everyone who has an interest in travels and adventure would get a lot from the amazing places we see, and if you’re looking for strong female characters, Minna should be way up there. An engaging fun book, well worth an afternoon of multiverse adventure.
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For the amount of portal fantasy/sci-fi anime (isekai) that I watch, it is something that I rarely delve into in fiction, so the Doors of Sleep was an interesting venture into the unknown for me, and what an adventure it was. Overall, I had some mixed feelings about this book, but one thing that I can say with certainty that I loved was the portal aspect and getting to see new worlds – and so many of them. I can only have the deepest admiration of Pratt for being able to come up with the concepts for so many different worlds to create such a rich and varied multiverse, and even those places that were just glimpses or pit stops were well-imagined, if not as deep as I might normally want from world-building. But, the tapestry of worlds we were shown more than makes up for that (necessary – otherwise imagine how long this book would have been!) lack of depth, and the world-building was without a doubt my favourite aspect of this book.
    The other major strength of the Doors of Sleep is its characters, although I would say that comes through more later in the book once the main protagonist gains travelling companions. Zax is a fantastic character, and you can’t help but become invested in his story and efforts, as he is our key to the different worlds, and I like how he interacts with each world in a different way. However, as much as I enjoyed reading about Zax’s adventures, it was his companions that were elevated to favourites – especially Minna, who as well as having an interesting biology due to the world she is from, just has a wonderful personality, is badass where needed and is an excellent character to have paired with Zax.
    Where I did feel the book was a little weaker was the plot and the antagonist. Lector is a fun character to read, but he did feel as though he was a little lacking in development, beyond his role as the ‘villain’ and I think that bled a little into the plot. The main threat and purpose, was not as strongly defined as it could have been, and there were places where the multiverse and travelling aspect (as wonderful as they are) were too dominant, removing some of the feeling of danger and urgency, and as a result while the ending was a satisfying conclusion, it felt a little underwhelming because of those earlier elements. That said, I did still enjoy the plot, and while it takes a little while to get into the pace of the story, I enjoyed this tour-de-force of Pratt’s worlds and imagination, and his writing is fantastic and pulls you in. 
   This was a fantastic book, even with it’s flaws and has definitely left me wanting to check out more portal fantasy/sci-fi, and I will be keeping an eye out for future books in this series, and by Tim Pratt in general.
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I tried to get into Doors of Sleep but it was so out there that you'd have to be in a real let's get lost in the beyond mood.
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Making an author come up with a single science fiction concept is tricky enough, but to ask them to come up with an infinite number of multiverses is just plain mean. Tim Pratt only have themselves to blame as they choice to take Zaxony Delatree on an adventure across a multitude of worlds. Worlds full of technology, worlds full or monsters. Some worlds not even on a planet. Will Zax every be able to get back home and, if he does, what type of person will he be? 

It happened one night when Zax went to sleep, rather than wake up in his own bed, he was in an alien landscape, unable to speak the language and having no idea where he was. To make matters worse, this continued to happen every time he slept. It was not until he met the benevolent The Lector that things changed. Now Zax had a companion to travel with and technology that allows him to understand any language. Things are not too bad when you have company, but are The Lector’s intentions noble? 

Taking on a series of worlds is not an easy task. Not only did Pratt need to come up with the ideas but also a valid way of leaping from one to the other. High concept science fiction ideas often fail as they lack rules. It would have been simple to have Zax zipping from place to place like a God, but Pratt intelligently avoids this by creating structures and rules that give the book foundations to build upon. 

Zax is a slave to his ‘powers’. When he sleeps, he warps. He can take other people and objects with him, if they are connected closely to him e.g. being worn or held. He heals while he sleeps but can die at any point when visiting a world. When you take all these rules into account you don’t get a grand pulp adventure, but a very human story or loss and fear. Zax is constantly in danger and when he is with a companion, he fears leaving them behind. Doors of Sleep is written as if it was Zax’s journal, so you get a sense of the man. On his home world, he is a harmoniser, trained to solve conflicts. Now he finds himself in constant turmoil and chaos. 

There are moments in Zax’s story that he gives into fear, but the secret to his survival is his companions. There is a hint of Doctor Who here, constantly visiting new worlds with pals, but Pratt has an unlimited budget and imagination. Zax’s later friends become a stabilising force in his life and allow the story to progress. There is a joy in just reading about new place after new place, but Pratt effortlessly steers the story to one of protagonist and antagonist. The stakes are raised, and the dangers heightened. An exploratory science fiction book becomes a thriller. 

Throughout the book, Zax and Co must visit over 100 worlds and many of them for a significant amount of time. It is impressive that Pratt can flesh them out so well, there are even worlds that get a sentence or two and produce evocative ideas. Doors is based in part on an earlier monthly exercise that the author undertook of taking characters into a different multiverse. The readers of this finished novel benefit greatly from the hard work as there is a sense of weight and research to even the most ephemeral places visited. 

As a reader I had an affection for Zax and his companions. Zax’s training means that he inherently wants to help, and it is nice to read a book about characters wanting to do good for the sake of goodness. This also helps to heighten the drama as the antagonist wishes to use the multiverses for a very different purpose. When the book starts to reach its conclusion, it slows down slightly, and the conflict unfolds, only for the ending to promise so much more. I hope that Doors of Sleep is not the final outing for the Journals of Zaxony Delatree as this book has proven a great start to 2021 and has set a level that is going to be hard to better.
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Zax Delatree has a special ability, every time he falls asleep, he travels to a new random dimension. Sometimes, he wakes up in dystopian world and sometimes he wakes up in a fantastical world where evil mushrooms try to kill him.

If Zax falls asleep holding someone in his arms, he can transport them with him. A lesson he has learnt the hard way the first time he traveled to a new reality. However, most of Zax’s companions tend to abandon him after a few realities to settle down on worlds they like, a luxury that Zax can’t afford. Some other times, Zax has to run away from his own companions when they try to vivisect him in order to understand how his powers work. That’s the case with the Lector, one of Zax’s former companion turned evil doctor who wants to replicate his powers in order to create an Empire across realities. Zax managed to escape the Lector once but, will he be able to avoid him forever?

Doors of Sleep is such a fun ride! This book really is a wonder of creativity, Tim Pratt imagined hundreds of different worlds that are all completely different from one another and it was fascinating to discover them one by one.

I really enjoyed the world but, most of all, I loved the characters! The main character is a fascinating character to follow. At the start of the novel, Zax has been jumping from one reality to another for 3 years and he has visited hundreds and hundreds of different worlds. In each reality, he tries his best to help the people he meets and, if he encounters someone or something who wants to visit a new world, he takes them with him.

I liked reading the novel from Zax’s perspective but I have to say that my favorite characters were his companions. I don’t want to say too much about the second companion because they arrive pretty late in the story but Minna was awesome! She’s a character from a world where biological engineering is mastered and she can modify her body at will to create biological compounds that are (more than a few times) life savers. Zax is a cool character but Minna was the highlight of the novel for me. She’s a gentle soul but also very badass in her own way and usually a lot more quick-witted than Zax!

Another character that I found fascinating was the Lector. Sure, he was kind of a “moustache twirling villain” and his personality probably could have been developed a bit more but, I had a ton of fun reading about him and his evil plans for the universe. He is also the one who injected Zax with a language virus that allows him to understand intelligent creatures in every world he visits and, without this virus, the story would have been a lot less interesting.

Doors of Sleep was one of the first book I read this year and, while it’s not perfect, it’s so much fun that I could easily forgive the unevenness of the pacing (it takes a bit for the plot to start) and enjoy the novel and its wonders. I don’t know if this book is standalone or a start to a new series but, if Pratt writes more stories in this world, I will read them for sure!

⭐⭐⭐⭐
Rating: 4 out of 5.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review. My thanks to Angry Robot and Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
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REVIEW: I thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining portal adventure, which has a pleasingly old-fashioned feel. The overarching narrative is very straightforward. For reasons that poor Zaxony doesn’t fully understand, every time he falls asleep or unconscious – he jumps worlds. Initially, he spends his time in a horrified daze as he tries to come to terms with his new normal. For the worlds that Zax encounters are mind-bogglingly various, ranging from idyllic to nightmarish and everything in between. He can take someone with him, as long as he is holding them when he falls asleep – but he is haunted by an upsetting incident where a lovely woman he fell in love with stayed awake during their journey between worlds and arrived in the new world raving – her mind broken by the experience. So he is very careful who he takes along.

We join Zax in the middle of his adventures, after a couple of the companions he has taken with him haven’t turned out to be ideal – and just as he starting a relationship with another kindly soul. There is a generally upbeat, positive vibe running through the series of adventures that I thoroughly welcomed and while the main plot isn’t overly complicated, or particularly original – what made this book really stand out is the sheer inventiveness and variety of alll those worlds Zax visits. There is a building sense of frustration that we only ever see the thinnest slice of their dynamic – because as soon as Zax falls asleep, off we go to somewhere entirely new, again. But I really liked that niggling sense of annoyance, as it helped me bond with dear old Zax, who is generally a well-meaning, honest chap – in sharp contrast to a nicely satisfyingly nasty antagonist in the form of the Lector, an archetypal evil scientist.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure and note with satisfaction that it looks as though this is the first in a series. Highly recommended of fans of science fiction adventures with an upbeat tone. While I obtained an arc of Doors of Sleep from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
9/10
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Thank you to NetGalley and Angry Robot for the opportunity to read Doors of Sleep in exchange for an honest review. 
I must start off by saying the synopsis does not do this book justice. It was far more than I expected it to be and immensely creative. One of the joys of the book is the glimpses of the different worlds Zax winds up in - I could get lost exploring those worlds in more detail - but the development of a storyline and plot beyond endless travels made the story engaging instead of simply fun. There is humor as well as tragedy, suspense and excellent world-building (I know, that seems unlikely when they don’t stay in one world more than a few days and yet, it is achieved). Though the main conflict resolves in a satisfying way, the cliffhanger at the end was not quite what I was hoping for, though I do hope there will be a sequel that allows the reader to wrap things up with Zax and the unanswered questions. I really enjoyed this one!
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The nitty-gritty: Inventive and engaging, Doors of Sleep is the feel-good sci-fi story you didn’t know you needed.

If you’re looking for an upbeat, quirky, feel good story to start off 2021, then you cannot go wrong with Doors of Sleep. This book was such a happy surprise, and I can’t believe this is my first time reading Tim Pratt! With an almost retro sci-fi vibe, Pratt has managed to write an entertaining story with loveable characters, a thrilling plot, some timely social commentary, and plenty of heart. I was also impressed by how imaginative Pratt’s worlds were, and I found myself wishing some of them were real.

This is the travel journal of Zaxony Dyad Euphony Delatree, or Zax for short. For the past three years or so, Zax has had the unfortunate ability to travel to a different universe every time he falls asleep. This means that when the story begins, Zax has already been to nearly one thousand different worlds, each unique and with its own set of dangers and challenges. Zax doesn’t understand why this is happening to him, only that he doesn’t know how to stop it. He’s been able to gather various drugs over time that allow him to fall asleep quickly and get out of sticky situations, but he can never stay awake long enough to fully appreciate some of the better worlds he’s discovered.

Zax can take someone with him from one world to the next, as long as they are asleep, and so he’s had several traveling companions over the years. But they’ve never lasted very long for various reasons, and so Zax is mostly lonely. One lost companion, however, is a scientist known as the Lector, the man who helped Zax in the beginning by studying his blood and figuring out ways to help him stay awake longer. He also injected Zax with something called a linguistic virus which allows him to communicate with anyone on his travels, no matter what language they speak. However, we soon learn that Zax left the Lector behind when his methods became suspect, and now he is trying to stay one step ahead of him, as he suspects the Lector is trying to catch him.

When the story opens, Zax has woken up in an orchard and soon meets a girl named Minna, who offers him some blue apples from one of the trees. Minna ends up joining Zax, as her world offers only a harsh existence of subservience, and she wants nothing more than to leave and go somewhere else. But the Lector isn’t far behind, and it doesn’t take Zax and Minna long to figure out what he’s up to: the Lector intends to take over the multiverse, and he needs Zax to do it.

I’ll admit the beginning of the story is a little slow and meandering, and after experiencing Zax jump to ten or twelve different worlds, I began to wonder if that’s all there was to this book—lots of really cool vignettes where Zax encounters more and more interesting and dangerous people, robots, and creatures, but nothing much happens. But at about the 33% mark, once Zax and Minna meet a new character named Vicki, the story really takes off. Pratt’s grand vision of his vast multiverse could have easily spiraled out of control, but I was pleased to see how well he reigned in his story, keeping the focus on a few main characters and making their stories the center of attention. For the most part, we see everything from Zax’s point of view (except for a few times when other characters fill in parts of the story), which made Doors of Sleep feel intimate and focused.

Which brings me to the characters. I absolutely loved Minna and Vicki in particular, although Zax is a pretty good character as well. Minna is a smart, resourceful woman who has been through terrible hardship on her home world. She’s part plant and has the ability to photosynthesize. She is able to regrow body parts if necessary, in the event of injury, and as we find out, she’s very hard to kill. Minna saves the day a lot in this story, especially when it comes to the nefarious antics of the Lector, and Zax is better off having met and befriended her. Zax and Minna meet Vicki on a world made of shattered crystals, and I think I’ll save that surprise for you to discover yourself. Let’s just say that Vicki is a marvelous creation, and the three characters together were my favorite part of the story.

Zax, Minna and Vicki are all good people (and I use the term “people” lightly!) and only want to help others. This was such a refreshing change from some of the more grim stories I’ve been reading. In Zax’s home world, he was a “harmonizer,” which is like a moderator who tries to help others resolve their disputes. Zax’s code of honor is to never harm a living creature, but of course he struggles with this whenever the Lector shows up. All this goodness is offset by the Lector, who to be honest, was almost a caricature of an evil genius. His big, evil plan to take over all the worlds was fairly predictable, and as a bad guy he was more annoying than scary. But I do like what Pratt does to his character at the end, which wasn't predictable at all.

The author came up with a really good hook for his story, a multiverse filled with wonderful diversity and different levels of danger, depending on what world you end up on. Pratt’s imagination is off the charts, and I loved experiencing each new world, even if some of them were very brief visits. Here are few examples: a “bubble” world where a civil war has separated everyone into different bubbles, where you only live with people who share the same beliefs and ideals as you; a fishing village ruled by a living lighthouse where people emerge from the sea each night lugging nets of shells, fish and gears; a world of subterranean engines where slaves labor in mines for insect-like aliens. One gets the impression that the author will never run out of ideas for his worlds! 

And because I loved the characters so much, there was always a sense of worry that they would become separated. After all, if one falls asleep without the other, the sleeper will go to another world without his companion, and the twist about travelling like this is that Zax can’t control where he goes. In all his travels, he’s never visited the same world twice, and finding a lost companion would be nearly impossible! This gave the story a nice sense of tension and kept me frantically turning the pages.

Pratt throws in some interesting twists and surprises near the end, and I fervently hope there will be a sequel, because the ending practically demands one! I’m so glad I had the chance to read this quirky book, and I look forward to whatever Tim Pratt writes next.

Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.
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What a weird story. It reminded me of Every Day by David Levithan but instead of waking up as a different person everyday, Zax travels to a new reality. Definitely one to pick up if you like Science Fiction and multiverse travel.
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