Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Alchemy Of Stone.

 I place this book written by Russian born writer Ekaterina Sedia with the VanderMeer’s Steampunk anthology as establishing the depth and range of aesthetics for anachronistic storytelling. While the heart of this story is about sentient, clockwork automata Ms. Sedia has created a very full, complete world almost gothic in its mood. It certainly fits the definition Brian Aldiss gave to science fiction : "[S]cience fiction is the search for a definition of man and his status in the universe which will stand in our advanced but confused state of knowledge (science) and is characteristically cast in the Gothic or post-Gothic mode." Although I must admit this book blurs the line between science fiction and fantasy but it certainly has it’s roots in the Promethean /Frankenstein tale.

 The story is about a physically frail and beautiful automata called Mattie who longs to be free of her creator. In order to do this she begins her tutelage as a potion maker. The backdrop to this is a medieval feeling city of stone which may have been built by a race of sentient gargoyles.

 This is a haunted book, a world where machines might have souls and a fascinating exploration of gender equality and technology and class prejudices.  I haven't read another book quite like it.



gonzalexx said...

Amazed by the content and collection of art. Right up what I think could be my alley (I'm just starting).
Looking forward to visiting your blog and getting lost in the content.
Thanks for sharing!

Evan Jensen said...

Eric, glad you did this book! Sedia started out kind of meh with "Secret History of Moscow" but keeps improving, and this is one of her best yet.