Liked It1 of 1 members found this review helpful
“Something way beyond fantasy, sf or steampunk. A cadre of obliviously narcissistic characters slowly letting their morality decay while we watch. Twisted, brilliant, and beautifully written. Insanity and the banality of evil rendered quite well.”see full review » see other reviews »
Didn’t Like It
“Nope...not at all...
“This was a fantastic read. It was funny; the plot was intriguing; the characters seemed entirely different from any I'd met before.”Cathy wrote this review Tuesday, March 5, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I saw this book at Borders and, in scanning the jacket, it seemed like it might be interesting. The book reads like a stew composed of parts from Neormancer, Catcher in the Rye, Kafka's The Prisoner, and the book of Genesis in the Bible. I know, its hard to imagine what such stew might taste like. I think it is an aquired taste akin to drinking Scotch whiskey. It took over half the book for me to acquire a taste for the story. Several times I considered abandoning the effort. In the end, I found it satisfying. ”DonF wrote this review Monday, January 21, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Nope...not at all...
I struggled to even finish this one. ”
“The writing is excellent, and the world the author creates is fascinating - clearly our own, but on a very different path. I enjoyed the characters, although there were really only two that had any depth at all. ”Matthew D wrote this review Wednesday, December 12, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The most vibrant memories I have of this book are from reading it on a blanket under the big water tower in Vermillion. What comes to mind is that chapter of my life, and how I resolved it with the story's events. Exactly what a book should do. ”Jennifer S wrote this review Wednesday, January 4, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This is what steampunk can do when treated at the level of its potential. Beautifully written, intricate, and with a final scene that pays off all the metal and rust and quasi-Victorian hubris of a world in which everyone pursues what people always pursue--- a way to make themselves.”Mark W. Tiedemann wrote this review Thursday, September 22, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“LOVED this book. The first novel-length example of the emergent steam punk genre that I've ever read. It was wonderful. ”Leslie B wrote this review Friday, July 22, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Can't get into this, and after reading a review, I don't think it's the book for me. To the library!”Cathy E wrote this review Wednesday, July 13, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Dexter Palmer’s novel The Dream of Perpetual Motion is a steampunk reimagining (of sorts) of William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. The protagonist, Harold Winslow, is a greeting card writer from Xeroville. He writes his memoir while trapped aboard a zeppelin—the good ship Chrysalis—with only mechanical servants and the disembodied voice of Miranda Taligent to keep him company. His life becomes inextricably linked with that of Miranda and her father Prospero Taligent’s at the age of ten, when he spends all of his money at the Nickel Empire carnival to obtain a whistle that will secure him an invitation to Miranda’s tenth birthday party. At the birthday party, Prospero promises each of the 100 boys and girls their heart’s desire. Harold becomes Miranda’s playmate until Prospero catches them kissing and banishes Harold from Miranda’s fantastic playroom.
Almost 3/4 through the book, Harold says,
"Perhaps you know the kind of man I am, dear imaginary reader. I have never felt as if I have known anyone well. I have never had that sense of instinctive empathy that I am told comes to lovers, or brothers and sisters, or parents and children. I have never been able to finish a sentence that someone else starts. I have never been able to give a gift to someone that they have liked, one that surprises them even as they secretly expected it.
Whenever I looked into faces and tried to discern the thoughts that lay behind them I had to make best guesses, and more often than not it seemed my guesses were wrong." (location 5167 on Kindle)
I think that is the crux of what I didn’t like about the book. The characters were not terribly likeable. They were entertaining, especially Prospero and his servants Gideon and Martin, but no one else brought out my empathy as a reader (excepting Harold as a boy, but he sheds that quickly in the novel). I have no quibbles with Palmer’s writing, which is funny and tragic and at times had me highlighting choice phrases, but the most important thing to me about any book, almost without exception, is the characters. If I do not like any of the characters, it’s hard for me to like the book. The plot of the novel is weird, but I could have let that go if I had been able to empathize with Harold.
Another criticism I have for the book is this sort of underlying misogyny that I see sometimes in science fiction and fantasy. Palmer’s women characters are, without exception, unpleasant and untrustworthy. Shakespeare’s Prospero is concerned with Miranda’s virginity, which is a theme that Palmer takes up in this novel. Prospero seeks to prevent his daughter from becoming sexually active, but when she does, he sees her as ruined. Harold never explicitly says so, but he gives the impression that he agrees with Prospero on that account—sex ruins women, and the proof is in his description of every female character in the novel.
The book improves slightly toward the end as the action picks up the pace, but over all, I can’t say I liked it. The narrative was complex and difficult to follow at times, and the characters did not redeem the story.”