Nick Harkaway's 2012 novel Angelmaker is a fun, fast, sexy steampunk-style SF romp — spoiled by far too much torture far too lovingly-depicted. It's also in need of a ~30% edit-cut, and rather less choreographed bullet-dodging martial artistry. Drop the evil villain monologuing too.

Harkaway writes so beautifully. His story has flavors of China Miéville mixed with Neal Stephenson and William Gibson, plus notes of J R R Tolkien and Ian Fleming, with a dash of Douglas Adams. The first half unfolds with lovely precision; after that, things get more predictable. Hyper-exaggerated cleverness, fiendishness, wryness; credulity-cracking coincidences; weak philosophy and physics; a final "assemble the team" cliché to tie a ribbon 'round the plot. Hmmmmm...

Nick Harkaway (birth name Nicholas Cornwell) is the son of John le Carré (birth name David John Moore Cornwell). In a 2008 essay [1] he writes of his father, "It's not that he casts a long shadow; it's more that it seems pointless to stand next to a lighthouse and wave a torch."

Yes — and often flocks of ninjas aren't enough. Shorter and sweeter works better, especially for fantasy-humor. Much of the great goodness in Angelmaker diffuses away before page 400. Alas!

^z - 2018-07-16