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Book Review

Book Cover

Lord Kelvin's Machine


Author: James P. Blaylock
Titan Books
RRP: £7.99, US $12.95, Cdn $15.95
ISBN: 978 0 85768 984 9
Available 22 March 2013

Alice, the wife of scientist, adventurer and detective, Langdon St. Ives, is dead, killed by his arch nemesis, Dr. Ignacio Narbondo. Distraught and near the end of his strength, he is appalled to discover that Narbondo means to hold the world to ransom by threatening to pull an asteroid into the Earth. He is further dismayed to find that the scientific communities response is likely to be just as dangerous. Only Lord Kelvin appears to hold the conundrums resolution, even more Kelvin has created a time machine powerful enough to possibly use against Nabondo, maybe powerful enough to save Alice...

Lord Kelvin's Machine is a Victorian steampunk novel by one of the fathers of the genre, James P. Blaylock. The book is not really a coherent novel being, rather a collection of three novellas strung together.

Blaylock has a real sense of who his characters are, which has the unfortunate side effect of allowing little in the way of character development throughout the plot. Not really a problem as this is not the first book in the series, but you’re advised not to jump into the series here. However, the imagery in the book remains strong, possibly the better part of the book's ingredients.

This is part of a three book reprint of some of Blaylock’s early novels and represents a gentle introduction into the genre of Steampunk as the technological wonders are less than overpowering.

The book is more akin to a Sherlock and Holmes book and the relationship between the St. Ives and Narbondo certainly has more than a little shared resonance. Also as an early work, the book does not display the same level of writing skill that he would display after he had matured as a writer. Between the three books, including Homunculus and The Aylesford Skull, Kelvin is possibly the weakest of the three books.


Charles Packer

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