By Nick Harkaway
For those fond of genre labels, Angelmaker fits loosely into that sub-category of SF known as steampunk. Though mainly set in present-day England, this is an alternate-history, “shadow Britain” of architectural and social undergrounds, secret societies, and a host of arcane technologies that reek of Victoriana. Our hero Joe Spork is himself a holdover from this earlier, proto-industrial world of artisanal craftsmanship, being a retiring clock repairman who is drawn into a vast global conspiracy involving a deathless super-villain, an elderly (but still lethal) secret agent, and a whimsical doomsday device that is activated by a swarm of mechanical bees. It’s all very bizarre, but then nobody does eccentricity quite like the Brits.
Nick Harkaway (obligatory trivia: he’s the son of author John le Carré) is one of the hottest new names in SF, with a style resembling Neal Stephenson at the top of his game. Also reminiscent of Stephenson is the intellectual breadth, ribald erotic escapades, and unflagging narrative energy. The result is pure reading pleasure.