Portals by Barry M. Vass

Portals by Barry M. Vass
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (268 pages)
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

In the year 2075, overpopulation has grown to unprecedented levels and unemployment is approaching 50%. Oil and most other natural resources on Earth are long gone, and forced colonization to other galaxies becomes the law of the land. In the midst of all this, a group of would-be prospectors crash-land on a distant planet, in another galaxy, and, with no real hope of rescue, begin to explore their hostile new world. And what they find amazes them.

The solution devised for an overpopulated resource-depleted Earth is forced colonization to other galaxies. The Colonial Work Force ships the unemployed poor off to colonize other worlds. However, their ships are old and out-of-date, and so it isn’t surprising that passengers have to board the emergency escape pods when the Perseus suffers a rupture. Danny and others scramble into one of the pods which then crashes onto a planet that is replete with dangers of all kinds.

Portals is an engaging novel with an interesting premise. I enjoyed reading about another civilization with the technology to construct portals capable of transporting people to different worlds. Barry Vass has an excellent imagination and the descriptions of the various diverse worlds are rich in details.

I did find the characters to be a bit flat, reacting in predictable ways. Each character seems to represent a standard character type, such as the computer nerd, the gung-ho adventurer, and so forth, but without any real depth. I also felt that the complaints about the Colonial Work Force and its lack of resources were repetitious and overdone, causing the plot to drag in places.

Nevertheless, the story is ingenious and entertaining. I was definitely interested in the civilization which had designed the portals and wondered why they had picked this particular world for their base. I liked how Vass described other species in the portal worlds who were non-human, but very intelligent and productive. Vass also allows his characters to speculate on the nature of the civilization which produced this technology. I found it fascinating that some of the portals went to worlds that seemed to be vacation spots while others went to worlds where research was carried out.

All in all, I enjoyed this novel and I think Vass gives his readers both a good story and food for thought about the nature of not only our Earth, but the Universe as a whole.

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