Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Hundred Thousand Worlds” as Want to Read:
A Hundred Thousand Worlds
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Hundred Thousand Worlds

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,213 Ratings  ·  263 Reviews
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 trav
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 28th 2016 by Viking
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Hundred Thousand Worlds, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Bob Proehl I hope not. There are lots of easter eggs for people who are into comics, but I really didn't want the book to be all in-jokes and references. The…moreI hope not. There are lots of easter eggs for people who are into comics, but I really didn't want the book to be all in-jokes and references. The story of the mother and son is very much the center of the book, and my hope is that it shows what's great (and not so great) about fandom and conventions so that anyone can relate.

(I know lots of people, including the writing group I was working with when I started the book, who never read a comic book and liked it. Or at least they told me they liked it.)(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Pouting Always
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the writing style and the characters but the plot line was kind of boring in itself. It might not help that I'm not into comic books myself so maybe a lot of what was talked about didn't interest me as much. I probably missed a lot because of it but also the whole thing was just Val going to leave Alex with his father and the other characters all felt very secondary to them. I'm not sure what I really got anything out of reading the book even though it was again written pretty wel ...more
Larry H
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

Despite the fact that it's less than 400 pages long, and other than flashbacks takes place over the course of a few days, the first word that comes to mind to describe Bob Proehl's A Hundred Thousand Worlds —other than the superlatives I'll use later—is "sprawling." This feels like a big novel, but while its cast of characters is a bit large, there are times when it feels very intimate, as it explores the dynamics of relationships, particularly between mother and child.

Oct 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book’s description makes it sound as if this boy meets a cast of characters in space. But that’s only true in the sense of comics, comic-cons and what lies in the imagination of this 9-yr old boy whose head is actually screwed on straighter than most adults. What this story manages to do so well is straddle a line between the world of comics and the lives of people. Those lives happen to be part of that world: artists, writers, actors. Therefore, it’s a great read for those who love reading ...more
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I started this book thinking I'd just dip into it. Did not expect to be blown away. Sure, it's set in the world of the comicons. Sure, there are characters that are their world's analogue of Joss Whedon, actresses who've played Companions to Doctor Who, Alan Moore, etc. Sure, there's a LOAD of references to Marvel and DC (in the book's world, Timely and National Comics). And yes, there's a lovely chorus of female cosplayers dropping bombs about misogyny in the industry. And yes, there are creato ...more
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was dropped off at my desk with a post-it note that read "READ THIS NOW! I think you will love it!" I blindly obeyed, dropping almost everything to read this book from beginning to end, and I'm glad I did.

This book is BEAUTIFUL.

The reader follows several different people on their journey to various comic conventions across the country (starting from Ohio and ending in California). Each character carries their own burden that they use the comic world to disappear from. However, everyo
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This novel exists in this universe of fandom, stories with cult-like followings and histories, and yet it is also a tender and loving story about the relationship between a mother and son. That mother just happens to be the former lead of an X-Files/Dr. Who mashup television show who had a child (and a brief marriage) with her co-star.

The wit! Priceless writing here, solid little things that just make the reader savor the cleverness of it all. Excited to see where Proehl goes next. I do hope it
Audrey DeMello
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This love story between a mother and son felt very real and beautiful and funny and sad. But it's also so much more than that, I wanted to watch every show, read every comic, and hear every story mentioned throughout this book; most do have a real life counterpart but I want to watch/read these ones. This was one of those books I couldn't wait to pick up again and never wanted to put down, the writing is so wonderfully unique. I have a problem with endings, they can spoil a fantastic story by be ...more
Aug 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Full fandom book club discussion here:
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I wrote a piece about how A Hundred Thousand Worlds is an antidote for anyone who read and hated Ready Player One. If that sounds interesting to you (or if you think I'm crazy for not liking Cline's bestseller), you can find it here.
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
Apr 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
4.5, but bumped up here because I think it's so deserving.

I mentioned this before, but I still can't believe this was written by a man. A Hundred Thousand Worlds is a deep dive into the world of geekdom, of comics and genre TV and where the two come together with fandom. You don't have to be familiar with comics history to enjoy this at all, though I felt certain there were Easter eggs I missed because I'm not a comics person.

However, this is really the story of Val Torrey, essentially a fiction
May 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Somewhat disappointed, but I think I had specific expectations going in. I am not a comic book fan but love everything geek (Joss Whedon is the man). I loved The Guild, I love the Avengers and even have played MMORPGs. The book was so heavy I thought I would crater under the weight of it. I think I wanted quirky, comedy with a touch of tragedy, rather than the tragedy heaped upon tragedy given. The intermittent comic book hero chapters were disruptive although very well written. I would still re ...more
Apr 14, 2017 rated it liked it
This was almost a good book, if the author could have just gotten out of his own way a little. I felt like he'd been saving up all these Wise Observations and interesting similes like a collection of fancy buttons and just sewed them on wherever there was a sticking-out place.
Also, "Ferret Lass"? Just no.
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Rating: 4.5/5

A Hundred Thousand Worlds was not a book that I was prepared for. All that I knew when I first heard of it and saw its gorgeous cover was that I needed to get my desperate hands on it ASAP! I'm a huge fan of the comic book medium and all that its creation entails. Plus, going to a con has been on my bucket list for ages. So, reading a book that included comic book writers and artists, cosplayers, convention goers, cons themselves, panels, fandoms, and all the nerdy feels, centered
David Dinaburg
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
A Hundred Thousand Worlds is a book that I was pretty sure was going to be about superheroes; magical powers and feats of fantasy and all the tropes inherent therein. It opened with a little boy trying to uncover some magic words that would transform him, Shazam!-like, into something different, something more. I kept reading, pretty sure I knew what was up.

In a way, I was right. But in a different, more accurate way, I was very wrong.

Expectations do a lot to alter the experience of reading ficti
Feb 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Proehl's debut novel is a fine book. It focuses on the relationship between Val and her son Alex as they travel across the country, stopping at comic conventions on their way. Other major characters include an illustrator named Brett (and his writer partner/friend Fred), the writer Gail, and the mysterious Idea Man, who generates more plots than anyone can actualize.

Proehl's style is generally uncomplicated and marked by the frequent use of simile. This does not limit the emotional impact of the
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Valerie Torrey used to play a part on a (fictional) sci-fi show called Anomaly. Then 6 years ago, she took her son, Alex, and fled to New York, where she started her new life. When a custody agreement forces Valerie to come back to the West Coast to give Alex back to his father, Andrew (her costar on the old TV show), Valerie decides to make her way west making appearances on the comic convention circuit as her former character, taking her son in tow, who in his isolation, takes refuge in the w ...more
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
I received a free copy of this book from Viking through a Goodreads giveaway.

A Hundred Thousand Worlds takes place in the world behind the scenes of sci-fi television and comic books, moving from convention to convention with a westward trajectory. It's fluent in the language of fandom, and several serious discussions about identity, sexism, and sexuality are woven into the dialogue in a natural way. If you belong to any fandom bordering those in the book, you'll recognize these issues.

The persp
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
This book is a sort of road trip story which features a touching mother son relationship while also functioning as a love letter to both comic books and the power of storytelling as an ineffable aspect of humanity. The mother, Valerie Torrey, was once on a very popular sci-fi T.V. show (think The X-Files) and she and her preternatural 9 year old son Alex are traveling from New York to L.A. stopping along the way for Valerie to do meet and greets at a couple of midwestern comic-cons. Exactly why ...more
Joe Jones
This is the kind of book that really gets under your skin and you can't stop thinking about. On the surface it is about the comics industry and the cons that go with it. You don't have to be a fan of either and it is probably best you are not. The author obviously knows what he is writing about, but it seems he chose to only show one side of the industry. That was a negative for me. He did include plenty of Easter Eggs for fans which was nice.

Now on to the pluses which far outweigh any reservat
Jacob Devlin
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this. So different than the whimsical fantasies I'm so accustomed to, but I picked up a free sample at SDCC and when I saw that it has so much to do with Comic Con and geek culture, I downloaded the audio book. I listened to it on all my long drives for my day job, and sometimes I'd find myself arriving at my destination, putting the car in park, and just sitting there to listen for another chapter or two. It's not for everybody and it's not perfect, but I personally found a certain kind ...more
Lisa Wright
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loved-it
This is NOT science fiction. It is a beautiful novel about a mother, her 9-year-old son, and the denizens of the comic-con world. The mother was once co-star of a cult sci-fi tv program and is doing appearances at the conventions as she and her son make their way from NYC to LA. The characters are as finely drawn as the best comic books. I loved all the characters and wish I could read it again for the first time, but I can't, so I'll read it again for the second time.
Del Johnstone
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. I loved it from the first page, and I loved it right up til the very last page. Well, no. I was a bit nonplussed with the last chapter at first, but I read it again the next day and then I loved the last chapter too. The writing is exceptional. There's stuff like this; It was important that a journey like this be preceded by rules and by warnings. Part of the job of adults was to set limits. But the last rule, the unspoken rule of any story or journey, is that all limits are s ...more
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
A charming book that kept it's charm for me almost all the way through - it wasn't until the last few pages that 9 year old Alex started to seem a little too good to be true, and ends were a little too neatly tied up. The Alex/Valerie story line could have become cloying, but it was nicely balanced with the lives of other slightly more rough-edged characters on the Comicon circuit. The author does a great job of giving the reader a deep dive into superhero comics without getting explainy. It wor ...more
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
"He wants to be brave and adult, but he lets Brett hold him as he cries and he thinks, I made it this far, which is a brave thought, even if it feels very small."

There are things I loved about this book. I loved Alex and his mom, but mostly Alex - the way he cuddles with his mother, the way he needs to be physically near her and see her and touch her. The chapters in his voice felt so authentic, particularly the way he observes adults and their interactions with him (slapping high five when it
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
A Hundred Thousand Worlds was so much fun to read. Well written and witty, though not without flaws. While the character's external voices were spot-on and wholly separate entities, the internal thoughts bore a striking resemblance among characters and seemed to all share a common tongue with the Idea Man. And I went back and forth over the major driver of the current time plot tasing credulity. However, these were overall minor aspects in comparison to the joy that was reading this book. I love ...more
Such a great read, though I was leery at the start. Short chapters, each with a corresponding POV character shift, and four primary character arcs/threads to follow. Luckily, the interconnectivity of the characters and their stories led to a fantastic read that was more an emotional mother-son story amidst the comic books/sci-fi/geekery tableaus of the convention circuit in which the story occurs.

Thus, a great read if you want a nonstandard mother/son relationship or just a solidly written and
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why it took me so long to read this, but I just loved it. Yes, I'm a nerd and a fan girl, so the backdrop of comic cons and cult sci-fi tv is right in my wheelhouse. Yet, the subject matter alone isn't what drew me in. Bob Proehl's writing is lovely - incisive and cutting at times but alternately sweet and touching. Their is one over-arching storyline, but the overlapping secondary plots are also welcome diversions. There's no real, finite resolution at the end, but somehow that's o ...more
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
this was an unexpected gem - with the added benefit of learning a bit about Cons and the comic book industry.
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own-on-audio, audio
lost interest in this one. but sure if it is it's contents or my current mood. alas, it was ok
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Lincoln in the Bardo
  • The Hike
  • A Gentleman in Moscow
  • The Secret History of Twin Peaks
  • Here Comes the Sun
  • Zeuglodon (Narbondo, #6)
  • Infomocracy (The Centenal Cycle, #1)
  • 101 Things You Thought You Knew About the Titanic . . . but Didn't!
  • Underground Airlines
  • The Little Universe
  • The Girl Before
  • The Unseen World
  • The Many Selves of Katherine North
  • Miles from Nowhere (Roadside Assistance #3)
  • The Lost Time Accidents
  • Daredevils
  • The Sunlight Pilgrims
  • Killfile (John Smith, #1)

Fiction Deals

  • Mercy Among the Children
    $14.99 $1.99
  • American Street
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Stillwater Rising
    $4.49 $1.99
  • Lark Song
    $4.99 $1.99
  • In Twenty Years
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Winter Men
    $3.49 $0.99
  • The Daughters of Palatine Hill
    $4.99 $1.99
  • A House for Happy Mothers
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Love Poems (New Directions Paperbook)
    $11.95 $2.99
  • The Drowning Guard
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Anathema
    $3.49 $0.99
  • Neverhome
    $12.99 $2.99
  • Sinner: A Paradise Novel (The Books of History Chronicles)
    $11.49 $3.99
  • A Promise of Hope (Kauffman Amish Bakery, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • 'Round Midnight: A Novel
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Ulterior Motives (Sun Coast Chronicles, #3)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Prisoner B-3087
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Midwife's Revolt (The Midwife Series, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • A Place of Peace (Kauffman Amish Bakery, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Beekeeper's Promise
    $4.99 $2.49
  • The Two-Family House
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Where Do I Go? (Yada Yada House of Hope, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Bloodletter's Daughter
    $4.99 $1.99
  • A Gift of Grace (Kauffman Amish Bakery, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Luxe (Luxe, #1)
    $3.74 $0.99
  • A Dream of Home (Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Thing About Jellyfish
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Broken Angels
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Lioness of Morocco
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Girl from the Savoy
    $10.74 $1.99
  • The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Wish
    $5.67 $2.99
  • Treason: A Novel
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Wednesday Wars
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Red Mountain
    $4.99 $1.49
  • She Who Remembers
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Hearts of Resistance
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Nantucket Nights
    $8.99 $2.99
  • The Midwife of Hope River: A Novel of an American Midwife
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Life and Other Near-Death Experiences
    $4.49 $1.99
  • Where Hope Begins
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Somewhere in France: A Novel of the Great War
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Skin
    $1.99 $0.99
  • Endangered (Ape Quartet, #1)
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Inamorata
    $3.99 $0.99
  • A Life of Joy (Kauffman Amish Bakery, #4)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Poisonwood Bible
    $11.99 $11.99
  • Cometh the Hour (The Clifton Chronicles #6)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Question of Red
    $3.99 $1.99
  • A.D. 30 (A.D., #1)
    $7.99 $3.99
  • Karolina's Twins: A Novel
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Woman in the Dunes
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Illuminati: Roundtable of the Bosses (The Cartel #7)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The 158-Pound Marriage
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Chasing Rainbows: A Novel
    $3.99 $0.99
  • A Season of Love
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories, #1)
    $6.99 $1.99
“Look at all this. It's fantastic. A hundred thousand worlds. What I love most, because I'm a hideous narcissist, is knowing many of these worlds are mine. You know what all of this is, don't you? This is the immune system of the human soul. Superheroes, space rangers, time cowboys, they are the T cells of the spirit. They were always here to save us. We made them to save us.” 1 likes
“Alex thinks of their car traveling across a green sea. Traveling is the strongest magic word he knows. That and home.” 1 likes
More quotes…