Worlds of the Imperium – Review

Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review, No. 10, December 1982, p. 28.

Laumer, Keith. Worlds of the Imperium. Tor/Pinnacle, NY, September 1982. 288 p $2.75, paper. ISBN 0-523-48546-8.

Brion Bayard, an American diplomat serving in Stockholm, assumes the people who kidnapped him must be time travelers, representing as they do a British-dominated world in which the United States never existed. He soon discovers the Imperium polices an alternate universe separated from Bayard’s by probability, not time, and his abductors are seeking help in combating another, highly aggressive universe. Commissioned a Colonel in Imperial Intelligence, Bayard is assigned the task of killing “himself” in this third universe, and guiding it to peace. Hermann Goering and Baron Manfred von Richthofen appear in minor roles as Bayard’s immediate superiors.

A reprint (Ace, 1962) of one of Laumer’s more innovative novels, Worlds of the Imperium is something of a cross between H. Beam Piper’s Paratime series and Randall Garrett’s Lord Darcy stories. This new edition features an outstanding wrap-around cover by Howard Chaykin, easily Tor’s best cover art to date. A sequel, The Other Side of Time (Berkley, 1965) and a related work, Assignment in Nowhere (Berkley, 1968) have been reprinted as Beyond the Imperium (Tor, 1981), and are reviewed in SF&FBR 3.

Two “Special Bonus Stories,” as the title page puts it, add 110 pages of bulk and several dimes to the price. “The War Against the Yukks” is a humorous — and blatantly sexist — story of two bumbling men who stumble across the remnants of an ancient all-female society. “Worldmaster” is a more serious work dealing with the corrupting effects of power, a familiar Laumer theme. Neither story has anything to do with. the novel, and “Worldmaster” is the only one that merits reprinting. — Lawrence I. Charters

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