Lynn Lamb‘s Mechaniclism – available at Amazon – opens with the birth of one of its characters, and describes the poor lot she has received in life. With a severe immune deficiency, Ireland Barton’s life will be spent in a bubble of dustless, filtered air to prevent microbial infection and probable death. Her over-protective loving father ensures her sheltered existence. She has a hazmat suit but she spends the vast majority of her life in her room, studying, reading books and learning about the outside world via the Internet. She attains a degree via distance learning, and a PhD at twenty-six. Her scientific background gives her the skills to take on the challenge of a pandemic when it strikes – an illness that appears to wipe out the vast majority of humanity in a number of weeks. (And we can only assume the worst as international communications break down.)
Four centuries earlier, clockmaker Frederick Jori finds a patron in Lord August Godwine, who – it transpires – is a lunatic, drunk on feudal power. When Jori refuses to build the automatons Godwine demands, convinced that to create such a clockwork Golem would usurp God’s role in humanity, the lord imprisons him until he either fulfils his bizarre commission or dies in the attempt. Over his years of imprisonment, Jori experiments and researches movement and mechanics to master his craft in order to create a functioning model of man.
Part of this book’s beauty is the mirroring of the two lives: both Ireland and Jori are prisoners of sorts, both face seemingly impossible challenges in research and study.
In similar novels, we could dismiss the henchmen and servants who torture, watch over or look after Jori – here, their roles are more prominent, each of them seeming to have his own role in a manner similar to Batman’s cast of villains. It’s a shame we don’t see more of them. In the present, meanwhile, Ireland and the team she brings together in her near-apocalypse bicker and argue with each other with as much vehemence.
Another inventive touch is Lamb’s placing of a heroine front-and-center whose life could be snuffed out by a sneeze from her own father. That Ireland is the one who must find a cure or vaccine for the deadly plague is a delicious irony.
Lynn Lamb’s author page on Amazon can be viewed here!