Planesrunner by Ian McDonald [Review]


There is not one you. There are many yous. There is not one world. There are many worlds. Ours is one among billions of parallel earths.

When Everett Singh’s scientist father is kidnapped from the streets of London, he leaves young Everett a mysterious app on his computer. Suddenly, this teenager has become the owner of the most valuable object in the multiverse—the Infundibulum—the map of all the parallel earths, and there are dark forces in the Ten Known Worlds who will stop at nothing to get it. They’ve got power, authority, the might of ten planets—some of them more technologically advanced than our Earth—at their fingertips. He’s got wits, intelligence, and a knack for Indian cooking.

To keep the Infundibulum safe, Everett must trick his way through the Heisenberg Gate that his dad helped build and go on the run in a parallel Earth. But to rescue his dad from Charlotte Villiers and the sinister Order, this Planesrunner’s going to need friends. Friends like Captain Anastasia Sixsmyth, her adopted daughter, Sen, and the crew of the airship Everness.

Can they rescue Everett’s father and get the Infundibulum to safety? The game is afoot!


How could you not pick up a book with that cover? I know I had to, when I spotted it. Then I read the synopsis (Science fiction mixed and alternative steampunk worlds?) and I was heading to the counter to had over my hard-earned cash, as fast as my feet could carry me!

Planesrunner is the first book in the Everness series, popular science-fiction writer Ian McDonald’s series for young adult readers.

Fourteen year old, Everett Singh witnesses his father’s kidnapping right off a main London street, with no clue to who carried it out or why (other than Everett’s dad is an eminent physics master, a talent that Everett displays an impressive understanding of).

Going back to stay with his mother (his mother and father are separated), Everett tries to get back to a normal life, going to school and playing in goal for his football team, and supporting Tottenham Hotspurs.

Until one day he finds an app for his iPad (which he later finds out is the Infundibulum), that may explain just what happened to his dad (and appears to have been sent by him), but which definitely attracts, unwanted and dangerous attention to Everett himself.

Everett soon finds himself thrown into a whole new London, vastly different to his own, a London filled with airships for a start.

Whilst there is a fair bit of science and of course physics in the book, it’s also a book that takes a fair number of liberties (for example while there is a form of electricity in both worlds, Everett is able to keep his iPad charged with little difficulty, it’d been nice to see him have to string together some heath-robinson device to act as a travel plug, at the very least), and Everett is occasionally a little too perfect, intellegent, skilled and just not fourteen year-old-ish (but then I can imagine, many a fourteen year old that would admire him for those very reasons), but the book is exactly what it intends to be, an exciting and fun read. I think if you go into it like you might an episode of Doctor Who, you won’t have many problems.

Because, it is an incredibly fun, very enjoyable, and exciting read, which is packed with some great side characters (especially the airish folk) he falls in with, not least of which is Sen, a girl he meets soon after landing in this new world, who befriends him and acts as a guide. She’s a little bit cocky, quite a bit kick-ass at times and so much more that Everett’s potential romantic interest.

Another delight is the cracking steampunk version of London Ian McDonald describes, with its airships, clothing, colourful slang, and dockyard brawls, that go with being in and around the Airish.

As Everett discovers, the Airish are the kind of people who when they first meet you, they are as likely to use you as to help you, but if you pull your weight, at the very least, they’ll accept you. Do right by them though, they’ll take you in like family, and risk everything just to help you.

Planesrunner is one of those books you could get really nitpicky about, if you wanted to, but if you accept it for what it is, you are in for a pretty brilliant time!

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