The Maker of Universes Book 1 of The World of Tiers Series by Philip Jose Farmer. Chapter 5, 6, 7, 8

They finished eating the rabbit and covered the fire. Wolff took first watch. Kickaha talked all through Wolff’s turn at guard. And Wolff stayed awake through Kickaha’s watch to listen.

In the beginning, a long time ago, more than 20,000 years, the Lords had dwelt in a universe parallel to Earth’s. They were not known as the Lords then. There were not very many of them at that time, for they were the survivors of a millenia-long struggle with another species. They numbered perhaps ten thousand in all.

“But what they lacked in quantity they more than possessed in quality,” Kickaha said. “They had a science and technology that makes ours, Earth’s, look like the wisdom of Tasmanian aborigines. They were able to construct these private universes. And they did.

“At first each universe was a sort of playground, a microcosmic country club for small groups. Then, as was inevitable, since these people were human beings no matter how godlike in their powers, they

quarreled. The feeling of property was, is, as strong in them as in us. There was a struggle among them. I suppose there were also deaths from accident and suicide. Also, the isolation and loneliness of the Lords made them megalomaniacs, natural when you consider that each played the part of a little god and came to believe in his role.

“To compress an eons-long story into a few words, the Lord who built this particular universe eventually found himself alone. Jadawin was his name, and he did not even have a mate of his own kind. He did not want one. Why should he share this world with an equal, when he could be a Zeus with a million Europas, with the loveliest of Ledas?

“He had populated this world with beings abducted from other universes, mainly Earth’s, or created in the laboratories in the palace on top of the highest tier. He had created divine beauties and exotic monsters as he wished.

“The only trouble was, the Lords were not content to rule over just one universe. They began to covet the worlds of the others. And so the struggle was continued. They erected nearly impregnable defenses and conceived almost invincible offenses. The battle became a deadly game. This fatal play was inevitable, when you consider that boredom and ennui were enemies the Lords could not keep away. When you are near-omnipotent, and your creatures are too lowly and weak to interest you forever, what thrill is there besides risking your immortality against another immortal?”

“But how did you come into this?” Wolff said.

“I? My name on Earth was Paul Janus Finnegan. My middle name was my mother’s family name. As

you know, it also happens to be that of the Latin god of gates and of the old and new year, the god with two faces, one looking ahead and one looking behind.”

Kickaha grinned and said, “Janus is very appropriate, don’t you think? I am a man of two worlds, and I came through the gate between. Not that I have ever returned to Earth or want to. I’ve had adventures and I’ve gained a stature here I never could have had on that grimy old globe. Kickaha isn’t my only name, and I’m a chief on this tier and a big shot of sorts on other tiers. As you will find out.”

Wolff was beginning to wonder about him. He had been so evasive that Wolff suspected Kickaha had another identity about which he did not intend to talk.

“I know what you’re thinking, but don’t you believe it,” Kickaha said. “I’m a trickster, but I’m leveling with you. By the way, did you know how I came by my name among the Bear People? In their language, a kickaha is a mythological character, a semidivine trickster. Something like the Old Man Coyote of the Plains of Nanabozho of the Ojibway or Wakdjunkaga of the Winnebago. Some day I’ll tell you how I earned that name and how I became a councilor of the Hrowakas. But I’ve more important things to tell you now.”


IN 1941, AT THE AGE OF twenty-three Paul Finnegan had volunteered for the U.S. Cavalry because he loved horses. A short time later, he found himself driving a tank. He was with the Eighth Army and so eventually crossed the Rhine. One day, after having helped take a small town, he discovered an extraordinary object in the ruins of the local museum. It was a crescent of silvery metal, so hard that hammer blows did not dent it nor an acetylene torch melt it.

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