Title: Assignment in Nowhere
Author: Keith Laumer
Publish Date: 1968
Sub-Genre: Alt. Universe Travel, Technology, Battles, Alt. Societies, Abduction, Entropy (Timeline Travel), Aliens
Johnny Curlon is taken abruptly from his world, his life, his boat, and whisked away to the 0-0 Base timeline of the multiple universe to prevent a great catastrophe that will rip them all apart.
0-0 Base determined that he was the focus point of the growing disturbance that was threatening them all. He’s sent on a mission to repair the cause of that disturbance, which takes him across several alternate timelines, and one beautiful woman.
He buys into the mission and begins to realize his important part in it as he is chased by renegades throughout his movements to collect pieces of rusted metal that seem to pull him towards them.
Fate or destiny, it didn’t matter. He finally knew where he had to end up, and why.
Brion Bayard the main character in the first two novels in this series takes a back seat in this third and final novel. After a brief acknowledgement to Bayard at the beginning, we find the new main character, Johnny Curlon, being ‘saved’ from an attack and whisked off to another timeline – to the 0-0 one to be exact. And the person who saves him, was Bayard.
Johnny carries with him a large-handled, short knife that he treasured for many years; and others want it. Johnny spends the bulk of the story following the pull of his knife, travelling from timeline to timeline in search of parts to his knife’s broken blade.
An overriding concern is that the timelines are becoming unstable, and the disturbance is centered around Johnny and his knife, causing his capture by a renegade official who had plans of overthrowing the Imperium government. And he wants Johnny as his tool to make it happen, one way or another.
In Johnny’s travels, he learns how to pilot an M-C ship to navigate between timelines. He meets Ironel, an incredibly beautiful woman, and the lone keeper for a planet of wonders.
He is eventually captured by the renegade and thrown into the middle of a coup attempt, orchestrated with him as the central character in the overthrow plot.
This is the final novel in the ‘Imperium’ series, and although Brion Bayard, who was the main character in the first two novels, was not the primary in this one, I felt the story held true to the theme of the series; timeline travel and policing that ability by the Imperium.