Friday, May 7, 2010

In a time of Myths....

“This is a time of myths. They are woven into the present like silk strands from the past, like a wire mesh from the future… a grand design a repeating motif. Don’t dismiss myth. And never, ever dismiss the Bookman ” Gilgamesh from the Bookman

Lavie Tidhar,a short story writer and confessed book addict blogs at released his first novel, The Bookman, some months back through the fine folks at Angry Robot Books who were kind enough to provide me with a review copy.
It may be the fact that I read it in the same circumstance, being travel, as I did Perdido Street Station but in looking back on the experience of reading The Bookman I feel the books have a great similarity to one another and I would encourage people who like one to read the other. The China Mieville book has been called steampunk in some circles and in sheer density of ideas he has a leg up on Mr. Tidhar but with the amount of creative love that I think went into the Bookman's setting I feel the two novels would do well next to one another on a bookshelf wether they belonged together or not; both are novels that I think I will revisit from time to time.
In The Bookman we get a setting that would be very familiar to readers of steampunk since you do get the ubiquitous airship filled skies, steam powered vehicles but he conveys the feeling that these things have been around a wile somehow in a way that they become just part of the scenery. Part of the scenery too are the presence of armoured police robots, the anthropomorphic Les Lizard rules of Britain, numerous automatons, some of them relegated to carnival like side shows as is the aforementioned chess playing turk, and Tesla powered communications devices not to mention a planned Mars probe shot. In all this strangeness and potential to make the book a show and tell the main character Orphan and his desire to regain his love and fiance, Lucy, really drive the novel.
The way that the story is told, following Orphan on his journey, I found myself not questioning the circumstances of the tale. He is not your standard hero of modern tales, he has no really special power that separates him from the reader on a human level; I never got the feeling that in the same situation I would have been more out of my depth then Orphan was. I felt a real empathy for him when he lost his Lucy and no matter how unlikely him getting her back sounded I wanted to take the journey with him to see if it was possible. I liked the people he met along the way and hope to revisit the world that Mr. Tidhar created again in the future.
The Bookman is a novel that left me feeling that there was a lot going on in the world it was set in. I compared it to the creation of China Mieville and I stand by that in that they are worlds that I can clearly see in my imagination when reading and thinking about them; again maybe its the traveling to europe thing but I'd like to think that it was the love that seemed to have gone into their creation.

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