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Lord Kelvin's Machine - James P Blaylock

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Paperback: 400 pages / Publisher: Titan Books / Published: 22 Mar 2013 / Language: English

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      13.08.2013 11:17
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      Time travelling romp in the style of H G Wells

      On a dark and rainy night, a weary but determined Langdon St. Ives rides out in hot pursuit of the villain who is holding his wife, Alice, captive. Catching up with his nemesis on the road, the resulting standoff between the two ends with St. Ives witnessing the cold-blooded murder of his beloved, shot in the head at point blank range whilst pinned under the wheels of a carriage. It is a scene that will play out again and again in his mind, driving him to the brink of madness and desperation. There appears, however, to be a glimmer of hope in the form of a mysterious machine in the possession of the Royal Academy of Science; a machine that may hold the secret to time itself. Is it possible for our hero to harness the power of Lord Kelvin's Machine and rewrite history? Lord Kelvin's Machine is the third book in Blaylock's Langdon St. Ives trilogy and is set several years after the events of Homunculus, featuring many of the same characters. The book is divided into three shorter stories, each written from a slightly different point of view. The first story introduces the mysterious machine as a possible salvation for planet earth, which is in danger of being catapulted into a collision course with an oncoming comet. The second story is written from the standpoint of Jack Owlesby, a close friend of St. Ives. This section seems to go off at a tangent from the main theme of the book, but is an entertaining standalone tale in its own right. The third story charts St. Ives' descent into madness and his use of the machine to warp the fabric of time in order to save Alice. I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, as I really disliked Homunculus. Thankfully, Blaylock has done much to redeem himself with Lord Kelvin's Machine. The writing style is more consistent, there are fewer characters and the characters themselves are more rounded. In Homunculus, the villains were nothing more than shallow ciphers, but this sequel gives a better insight into their personal stories and psychological states. I particularly liked the insane Willis Pule (fantastic name) and his equally deranged mother who dress alike and seem intent on chopping up their enemies and rearranging their body parts, with the hope of selling the resulting chimeras to 'Mr Happy's Circus'. There was plenty of action throughout the story, although certain sections did seem long-winded with excessive rambling. Blaylock, who is usually word-perfect when it comes to writing Victorian-English made a clanging mistake when referring to aubergines as 'eggplants', but this was the only Americanism I noted in the book. In conclusion, Lord Kelvin's Machine was an enjoyable romp, reminiscent of H. G Wells Time Machine which was both gripping and touching to read. I previously published this review at www.thebookbag.co.uk and thank the publishers for my review copy.

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