"It seems you have acquired about you a field that affects the links between multiple parallel worlds, causing objects and individuals from these worlds to slip into yours . . . or you to slip into theirs . . ."
It was just an average day for tabloid reporter Max Parker when he arrived in Malibu for a demonstration of a brand new parallel-universe machine. But everything changed in an instant when inventor Barrington Boles succeeded in making Max the human gate to numerous parallelities.
Now Max was lost in a virtual sea of collateral worlds, confronting man-eating aliens, dinosaurs, talking frogs, dead Maxes, girl Maxes, old Maxes, even ghost Maxes. His only chance to escape the space-time continuum was to find Boles and hope the loony genius could rescue him. But how could he be sure which world was real, which Max was Max, and which Boles was the Boles who could stop the madness--or trap Max in the wrong world forever. . . ?
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February 28, 1995
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Excerpt from Parallelities by Alan Dean Foster
Chapter One It was one of those special late June days that the Greater Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce tries to bronze and preserve for all eternity--as well as for the sake of civic advertising. Semitropically hot but not suffocating, multicolumnar traffic on the freeways actually free of vehicular stasis by nine o'clock in the morning, no major sigalerts, and the limpid turquoise sky brandishing a lovely pink tint thanks to a wispier-than-usual permeation of smog. Other than in his highly restricted capacity as a civic-minded citizen, Maxwell Parker could not have cared less about the current condition of the metastasizing megalopolis's vaunted but frequently arteriosclerotic freeway system. As one of those fortunate folk who could commute from home to office on the overstressed but still highly preferable surface streets, he was immune to such vehicular concerns. All he had to do was drive the few blocks from his apartment building up to Lincoln Boulevard, cross the Santa Monica Freeway, turn right on Wilshire, and mosey his leisurely way up to Bundy Drive, occasionally shaking his head in empathetic but distanced wonder at the traffic reports that periodically interrupted the morning news. He would have preferred keeping the Aurora's stereo set to one of L.A.'s innumerable small specialty FM music stations, but starting the day by listening to one of the several all-news channels was one way of getting a jump on work. After all, the news was his business. Or rather, a certain fringe element of it was. Max worked, unabashedly, in the journalistic freak zone. His job was to make the news--not read about it. Scrupulously avoiding eye contact with the haggard homeless hawkers of makework newspapers who crowded the median on Lincoln and haunted the street signals at the freeway overpass, he turned up Wilshire Boulevard. Maneuvering skillfully around a shambling, shaggy, vaguely anthropoid figure fervently hoping to force his energies upon the Aurora's already speckless windshield, Max crossed Bundy and ducked smoothly down into the Investigator's underground parking lot. As a prolific, inventive reporter whose current status vacillated between junior stringer and respected craftsman, his status was sufficiently ambivalent to qualify him for a comparatively convenient parking space, but on the lower level. Not only did he not mind having his car consigned to the concrete abyss, he preferred it. The deeper in the multilevel labyrinth one parked, the cooler one's car stayed during hot weather, and the less it was subject to the unwanted attentions of visiting delivery vehicles. The modest but modern glass-sided high-rise was home to other enterprises besides the paper, from the ubiquitous law offices that migrated constantly in search of more prestigious addresses, to fledgling film producers unable to afford locations close to the studios, Beverly Hills, or the better parts of the San Fernando Valley. The top six floors and most of the parking spaces belonged to the corporation that owned Max Parker's employer, the International Investigator. A youthful but energetic competitor of other weekly tabloids like the Star, and the World, the Investigator had carved out a niche for itself by emphasizing the newly grotesque as opposed to the traditionally bizarre. Its computer-generated graphics were lively, its layout fresh, its prose florid, its weekly quota of insupportable but nonlitigious accusations slyly incendiary. It was a paper on the way up, its circulation steadily increasing, and always on the lookout for enthusiastic, moldable, and generally unprincipled young talent. Max considered himself lucky. Still only in his late twenties, he had already succeeded in dumping whatever ethics and integrity he might have once posse