Rajnar Vajra was born in the year that Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier, and something mysterious happened in Roswell, New Mexico. Coincidence? Perhaps.

Aside from writing, he is a professional musician, songwriter, music teacher, a practitioner of Zen and other contemplative disciplines, and has been a jeweler, a painter, a recording engineer, and more. He follows developments in science, health, and understanding the mind's nature with the closest attention. Not, perish the thought, partly to mine human progress for story ideas.

He has appeared more than thirty times in the pages of Analog Science Fiction and Fact and has also appeared in the online stories at Tor.com, and in Absolute Magnitude. His novel DR. ALIEN has been published by WordFire Press, which now presents OPENING WONDERS.

Opening Wonders by Rajnar Vajra

Countless un-parallel universes intersect in a place where science and magic function perfectly.

A Crossroads World. A world that holds a fantastic and deadly secret.

An ultra-advanced species, the Common, govern this world and invite other advanced species to set up enclaves where the planet's extraordinary properties draw an assortment of gods and demons like supernatural moths to a flame.

The first human allowed there, Professor David Goldberg, is secretly tasked by Earth's governments to observe the Common. But Goldberg's mission might not be as secret as he thinks.

Someone or something with unknown motivations sends truly terrifying monsters bent on taking him down.

Opening Wonders. Fantasy, science fiction, mythology, adventure, mystery, rich history—and more.



  • "Vajra puts together a dizzying display of ultra-aliens and interdimensional gods"

    – Publishers Weekly
  • "Opening Wonders is filled with marvels and wonders and really fine writing. This book is 'sense of wonder' taken to the Nth degree."

    Jerry Wright

  • "One of the best science fiction writers of our time."

    – Robert J. Sawyer



Chapter 1

Invitation to the Dance

My phone chirped, snatching me from a high-end wish-fulfillment dream in which some shadowy figure seemed ready to give me the Ultimate Answer. I growled at the phone, but at least had the comfort of waking up in my own bed, my Sara lying next to me where she belonged. Then I remembered she was long dead, and the bottom of my heart dropped out.

Chirp. I snatched up the handset, glancing at the time display. "Hello?" I croaked. A call at 5:30 AM can't be good news.

"Professor Goldberg?" A deep, unfamiliar voice.

"Yes? Who is this?"

"Sorry if I woke you. I'm Robert Garlen, and I head the UNDS."

"What's the—you're connected with the UN?"

"Security Division. I'd like to meet with you this afternoon."

"Why? What about?"

"I can't tell you on an unsecured line. Will you make yourself available?"

"I suppose so." I visualized today's schedule. "Can we get together at my university office in

the late afternoon?" "Certainly."

"Do you know where my office is?"

He chuckled. "Expect three of us at four. Have a pleasant morning, Professor." He hung up before I thought of asking for a way to confirm his status. Maybe I could get some info on him online....

I tried, heroically wielding the Shining Sword of Research, namely Google, and could only discover that the UN did have a security division.

After that, I couldn't sleep but wouldn't admit it until the alarm buzzed. The December dawn showed up depressed and gray. Why would the head UN security honcho bother with an obscure professor of comparative history?

I worried the question like a dog trying to chew a steel bone during breakfast and while sedating my students with a morning lecture, and it still bugged me after lunch as I lurked in my office grading undergraduate essays—a trying business even without UN assistance.

I'd assigned my students a topic concerning my favorite extraterrestrial mystery: support or refute Warner's theory concerning the fate of the Scome species based on Scome literature we've studied this semester. A crafty way, I'd figured, to boost my own interest level and maybe generate fresh insights.

Several papers were excellent; most weren't. After commenting on each as constructively as possible—I don't subscribe to the Snarky Critique School of Education—I'd glance suspiciously at the remaining stack, which seemed, if anything, to be growing. Could bad essays reproduce through a hitherto unknown scholastic meiosis, exchanging immature notions, using incomplete sentences as genetic building blocks...?

The problem, of course, was me. Four o'clock loomed and I couldn't focus. The next potential masterpiece awaited, but I couldn't force myself to hoist the thing.

Instead, I gazed out my window rubbing the bald spot gradually uncrowning my head. When that failed to soothe, I turned to my treasure shelf. Between the menorah that had been in my family for three generations and a small purple cube (made on Crossroad World!) that would levitate for a few seconds if you tapped it, sat a kinetic sculpture. My Sara had created this pretty toy of curving glass tubes and tinted immiscible fluids set abubble by a heating element. I turned it on, watched colored streaks slowly drifting, and realized a coffee break was overdue.

That cheered me! I could almost taste Zabar's Jamaican Blend dancing on my tongue. According to my trusty, un-smart watch, I'd have time for a leisurely cup before the UN delegation arrived.

I stood up and stretched. The building seemed unusually tranquil for this time of day, nearly silent apart from shreds of Professor Wu's perpetual Mozart leaking through my walls. Which made the sudden bang extra startling. What the hell?

In the aftermath, the tinkling of small hard things hitting the floor underscored a sickly hush. Then all was quiet. Even Mozart paused mid-sonata.

Easy to identify the perpetrator. My kinetic sculpture had exploded and taken the menorah and my pottery collection along for the ride. I'd collected these treasures for decades, but Sara had made ...

The Crossroad-made cube, undamaged, settled to the floor near my feet. For a ghastly

moment, the thick wall I'd built around my grief threatened to crumble. My eyes welled up and my knees weakened; I put a hand on my desk for support and a glass splinter promptly stabbed into my palm. The pain brought me back as I plucked out my unappreciated rescuer, blinked useless tears away, put the cube on my desk, and surveyed the damage.

The shelf had become a dripping graveyard of fragments. Glittery bits had embedded themselves in the ceiling, some barely hanging on. At least the explosion hadn't spread far, horizontally. Aside from my palm, I wasn't so much as scratched, but one especially long shard had found a home in my empty chair. Four murderous inches protruded from the padded backrest like an accusing finger.

I visualized angles and whistled. If I'd remained seated, the glass arrow might've pierced my heart. Interesting. Admittedly, odd little accidents had been plaguing me for years—proof there's a bad side to luck's bell curve. But nothing, far as I knew, had ever threatened my life.