Midnight at the Well of Souls is the first of at least ten volumes1 in Jack L. Chalker’s Saga of the Well of Souls.
Having reached the stars, most of humanity settled into stultifying conformity. Archaeologist Skander is no conformist; he’s a visionary (and perhaps a little mad). He has stumbled upon a secret that he believes will allow him to liberate humanity by manipulating the (cue megalomaniacal laughter) laws of nature! That secret is found on Dalgonia, a backwater world littered with the enigmatic relics of the long-vanished Markovians.
When Skander discovers that someone else (brilliant mathematician Varnett) has stumbled upon Skander’s secret, Skander does the only reasonable thing he can do: murder every other human on Dalgonia. Or rather, he attempts to do so. Skander and Varnett grapple near a Markovian gate and find themselves teleported away.
Drawn to Dalgonia by a distress call, freighter captain Nathan Brazil finds seven dead bodies. Brazil and his companions (malevolent drug lord Datham Hain, Hain’s drug-addicted victim Wu Julee, and courier
Vardia Diplo 1261) find the same Markovian gate. Like Varnett and Skander, they are all teleported away. Far, far away.