From Publishers Weekly
Blaylock ( The Paper Grail ) returns to the Victorian setting of his award-winning novel Homunculus in this tale of obsessive grief, time travel, mad scientists and gentlemanly adventure. The first of the three parts finds amateur scientist Langdon St. Ives despondent after a rainy chase of his nemesis, the evil Dr. Narbondo, ends with the death of his lady love, Alice. But St. Ives turns his grief to determination as he strives to thwart Narbondo's scheme to shift the earth into a collision with a passing comet. In the second part, an array of colorful, eccentric villains (including a revived Narbondo) compete to use Lord Kelvin's electromagnetic machine in an elaborate (and unlikely) blackmailing plot. In the novel's final section, St. Ives gives in to his private sorrow, using the machine to travel back in time in an attempt to kill a younger Narbondo and thus save Alice's life. Blaylock provides plenty of action--perhaps too much--and his characters are, if not realistic, entertaining, but this novel is not among his best work. The three episodes never cohere, and the driving force behind the plot (St. Ives's grief) is explored in detail only in the concluding section. Though St. Ives's journey through time is very well handled, at once playful and thoughtful, the sum of these three parts is less than a whole.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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From Kirkus Reviews
Three-part ``steampunk''--Victorian fantasy--outing for the author of the noteworthy Land of Dreams and The Paper Grail. In part one, scientist Langdon St. Ives, despondent after the recent murder of his wife Alice by the diabolical hunchback Dr. Ignacio Narbondo, struggles to prevent said Narbondo from causing Earth to collide with a passing comet; simultaneously he must sabotage Lord Kelvin's superpowerful electromagnetic machine that, if used to repel the comet, would produce still another disaster. Part two sees St. Ives attempting to recover Kelvin's machine from beneath the English Channel while battling a cast of bad guys intent on revivifying the supposedly dead Narbondo. In part three, St. Ives seizes Kelvin's machine, which turns out to be a time machine, and sets off to make significant alterations to history- -not least, the prevention of Alice's murder. A neat enough idea, but the tone is wrong from the start, as broad comedy-adventure (part one) veers into farcical parody (part two) before subsiding into straightforward melodrama (part three). Neither is the scenario--as if Victorian America had invaded 1930's England--particularly convincing. All in all: a thumping disappointment. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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