The Dimensioneers

by Doris Piserchia
Reviewed date: 2021 Jul 2
Rating: 3
176 pages
cover art

This is like the Telzey stories by James H. Schmitz, except good. The hero is a teenage girl with psi powers and a big cat companion.

Science fiction, not fantasy
You can tell that The Dimensioneers is science fiction because the cover depicts soldiers flying through the sky on alligators. If it were fantasy they'd be riding dragons, not alligators.

Also it's science fiction because the hero, an orphan teenage girl, "skips" to worlds in other dimensions by traveling "in D" with her pal Wyala. Her pal Wyala is a magical lion--I mean, a "gamber" descended from some escaped zoo lions. If it were fantasy, our hero would teleport to fairy lands with her magical lion pal Wyala.

So it's alligators not dragons, dimensions not fairylands, gambers not magic lions. Got it.

Oh all right then. It's fantasy.

The orphan girl
The main character is unnamed. It's told in first person so she doesn't have to name herself. Other people either don't mention her name or just call her the girl or the brat. I will call her Orphan.

Mrs. Asel and the Dogcatcher
Orphan is persecuted by the Mrs. Asel, the headmistress of the orphanage. When Orphan misses supper because she was skipping to other worlds, Mrs. Asel sics the dogcatcher on her. Dogcatcher is a mysterious hooded man, otherworldly, and he shadows Orphan with preternatural speed and awareness, preventing her from leaving the orphanage grounds to go skipping dimensions with Wyala. (The skipping only works if it's both of them. Neither can do it alone.)

Dogcatcher isn't Orphan's biggest problem though. While skipping through dimensions she runs into a malevolent race called the Kriff. The Kriff can travel between worlds too, riding snake-like creatures. The Kriff subjugate and enslave the people on the worlds they encounter, forcing them to farm food for the ravenous Kriff.

The Resistance
Orphan also runs into resistance fighters. They are small, numbering dozens, but they are all that stands against countless thousands--millions--possibly billions--of Kriff. She wants nothing to do with them, but two of them follow her back to Earth and strong-arm her into helping them. Orphan helps steal weapons from an army base in Kansas. Now the resistance are at least well armed, if still too few to fight the Kriff.

Cornelia Ember
There's another plotline involving a woman named Cornelia Ember who shows an unnatural interest in the girls at the orphanage. It turns out Cornelia is looking for her lost daughter, and hey, Orphan is that daughter. Orphan isn't terribly pleased, plus there's still that whole business of the dimensional war to take care of.

The Army
The military finds out about Orphan's skipping, and takes a dim view. If there's any mucking about with interdimensional travel, the military would like to be the ones to do it, thank you very much. So Orphan has to avoid the dogcatcher, Mrs. Asel, Cornelia Ember, and the United States military, as well as steal enough weapons to supply an armed resistance, and on top of that, she has to ferret out a traitor among the resistance.

In the end, Orphan defeats the Kriff almost single-handedly, by enticing them to follow her in D (that's the inter-dimensional space between worlds) and then leading them into a trap: a place "under" the regular worlds that is a literal hell planet. The Kriff are trapped there, forever.

Wait, we need a love interest
Piserchia has telegraphed from the beginning that Dogcatcher is a gentle soul, not a malevolent man, but the resolution of this plot thread is a bit out of left field. Orphan realizes that he's a natural rider, like her, but he tried to ride a dog instead of a gamber. Dogs aren't capable of flying in D, so the result was an accidental merging. Dogcatcher is the physical and spiritual melding of a young man and a dog. But Orphan is naturally skilled, so she helped unmeld him. She and the young man fall madly in love.

It's a regular story. Compared to the other Piserchia books I've read, this is tame and ordinary--like, it's actually telling a regular story in a regular way. As for the story itself, it's a bit rough. I like the main character. I also like the story line. The whole Cornelia Ember thing didn't work for me, nor with the Dogcatcher-werewolfish thing. And for a fantasy novel with a teenage girl protagonist, she sure got beat up a lot. Beat nearly to death, fingers broken, etc. That was kind of disturbing. I enjoyed reading it, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it. Maybe to somebody who is a big Telzey Amberdon fan.

Key words
Kriff, Cornelia Ember, Westman, Roula, Mrs. Asel, Zee, Dogcatcher, Dogface, Wyala, Dandy, Bruin, Rich (Kansas soldier), Jim the butler, Connors, alligators, mushroom, sticks, hobs, gambers, Hozun

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