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A Hundred Thousand Worlds: A Novel (Paperback)
July 2016 Indie Next List
“Nine-year-old Alex and his mom Valerie - the ex-star of a superhero TV show -- make their way across the country, Comic-Con by Comic-Con, toward a future of inevitable loss. They visit the fallen heroes, wise women, and wizards of pen-and-ink who have all shaped the story of their lives. Pushed and pulled by so many other people's stories, can Alex and Valerie learn to write their own?”
— Cat Nichols (E), Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
"Equal parts great American road-trip narrative and coming-of-age novel, this brilliant story from a debut novelist is a treat for the diehard nerds and fans among us."
Valerie Torrey took her son, Alex, and fled Los Angeles six years ago--leaving both her role on a cult sci-fi TV show and her costar husband after a tragedy blew their small family apart. Now Val must reunite nine-year-old Alex with his estranged father, so they set out on a road trip from New York, Val making appearances at comic book conventions along the way.
As they travel west, encountering superheroes, monsters, time travelers, and robots, Val and Alex are drawn into the orbit of the comic-con regulars. For Alex, this world is a magical place where fiction becomes reality, but as they get closer to their destination, he begins to realize that the story his mother is telling him about their journey might have a very different ending than he imagined.
A knowing and affectionate portrait of the pleasures and perils of fandom, A Hundred Thousand Worlds is also a tribute to the fierce and complicated love between a mother and son--and to the way the stories we create come to shape us.
About the Author
Bob Proehl grew up in Buffalo, New York, where his local comics shop was Queen City Bookstore. He has worked as a bookseller and programming director for Buffalo Street Books, a DJ, a record store owner, and a bartender. He has written for the 33⅓ book series and worked as a columnist and reviewer for the arts and culture site PopMatters.com. Proehl currently lives in Ithaca, New York, with his wife, stepson, and daughter.
"With enthralling characters and tons of heart, this read (much like a good con) has something for everyone."
"A perfect summer read for the Comic-Con crowd . . . Anybody up on superheroes and X-Files will have a lot to love here."
"Comic-Con age's definitive novel about a road trip through geek culture."
—The Wall Street Journal, Speakeasy Podcast
"Anyone who is a geek or a parent of a geek should read this novel. In these interesting times . . . books like A Hundred Thousand Worlds are doing the work of navigating a new reality, where work, family, and adulthood are all being redefined."
"Who doesn’t like a good origin story? This delightful novel has a dozen of them, each sparking deftly off the next. A work of wit and heart, A Hundred Thousand Worlds is for anyone who craves a smart family saga. Especially one with superheroes. I loved it completely."
—Karen Joy Fowler, Booker Prize finalist and author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
"Proehl creates worlds within worlds within worlds, all of them full of surprise and wonder. One of the best novels I have read in a while."
—Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
"For all its acrobatic wit and outsize charm, at its heart this is the love story of two everyday heroes—a mother and a son—who, like their author, possess the superpower of storytelling. A Kavalier & Clay for the Comic-Con age, A Hundred Thousand Worlds is a bighearted, inventive, exuberant debut."
—Eleanor Henderson, author of Ten Thousand Saints