Look Homeward, Clockwork Angel by Elias Anderson and E.C. Belikov
Look Homeward, Clockwork Angel is just a fantastic title. I wouldn’t even care what the book is about, I would just buy it. It would be one of those books where I would say “you haven’t read Look Homeward, Clockwork Angel? You’re missing out” to all my friends without ever picking it up. Unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to its great title.
We follow three characters; Violet, Moriarty and Tibbs on a mission to destroy a ranch for some reason you don’t really find out until the end (amazingly a lot of the plot is given away in the blurb for the book which I didn’t read until after, I’d recommend you do the same). Which is pretty much how the books runs; you get all these hints about cool stuff that just doesn’t seem to materialise until much later, if at all.
Firstly there is the world on which this story is set, where over a hundred years ago bombs have dropped and poisoned the world. I like that; it’s a good start, nice little dystopian future. Following the bombs there is a regression/progression of the human race and we come up with voluntary augmentations of hydraulic body parts, pirates and the old west. It’s just such a jumble of things that are never really reconciled. I think they set out to trying to recreate Firefly and tried to add other popular themes (see Pirates of the Caribbean). We never really get a sense of a completed world, just hints of what we might see.
Also, as it’s written in the third person we don’t really feel connected to some of the characters, epecially Mob (who enters later in the story). To describe what is happening to this character they’re internal monologue is described in the third person which makes it feel clumsy. It’s hard to move between first and third person, especially when it when it is written in the third for the majority of the time, but I think it would have been worth switching to the first for this character.
Mob is an unusual addition to the story and I don’t want to give too much away about him/her/it. He/her/it really takes you in a direction you don’t see coming and makes a story all of its own.
There is almost too much plot that they have tried to lever in and it suffers for it. There is a great part about how people become an “Attachment” to people with prosthetic augmentations and they are both part of “The Society” which seems to worship these voluntary surgical improvements. This was a fascinating part of the story, which could have made a story by itself but it was largely skipped over as a way to advance the other plot.
Overall there are interesting characters and it is just crammed full of plot and action, but I want the backstory…in fact I need the backstory on all of this before I can appreciate it. It did leave me willing to read more though so a strong 3/5 is awarded.
Look Homeward, Clockwork Angel is the first in a series of Steam Punk novellas and stories chronicling the harrowing post-apocalyptic adventures of the crew of the airship Masamune and the lives they touch along the way. You can find it on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Look-Homeward-Clockwork-Angel-ebook/dp/B005H7Q0ZU/) and Smashwords (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/80707).