Monday, November 19, 2007

Reading: Mainspring by Jay Lake

Mainspring is my introduction to Jay Lake, and I found it to be an uplifting and enjoyable read. Mainspring is the story of a young clockmaker, Hethor, who lives on an Earth that is literally a clockwork earth. You can look into the sky and see the great brass gears that guide the Earth on its orbit around the lantern of the sun. It is an allegorical and metaphorical tale of growing up and discovering our place in a wide world that we did not make or set in motion. Lake has a delightful ability to conjure up those old Victorian novels of exploration and the steam-driven gadgetry of Jules Vern. I found his tour of the clockwork earth and Hethor’s discoveries of himself to be enchanting and fun. There are airships and savages, magic and miracles, as Hethor tries to find a way to rewind the mainspring keeping the Earth spinning.

I read a few reviews this morning; and many of them criticize the author for not delivering more answers about the nature of the world. But I feel Lake properly sets course by the strength of the questions being explored. Hethor discovers much about the world and himself by trusting in his questions, and the reader can discover much as well.

Mainspring is a lovely little fairly tale adventure that does not require thousands of pages or multiple volumes to cast its spell. If you have a spare evening or two, pick up Mainspring.

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