Friday, November 22, 2019

Made Things, by Adrian Tchaikovsky

★★★★☆ Good things come in small packages.

(High Fantasy; Made Things) Young Coppelia quietly helps a colony of tiny people made from wood and metal, but her regular job as a thief brings her into contact with a much larger problem that puts her and her friends at risk. (38,544 words; Time: 2h:08m)

"Made Things," by (edited by Lee Harris), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2019.655 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: Coppelia’s main goal is to make her friends safe and make their colony prosper. This is the only work that brings her true joy, and she pours everything into it. Nor can she tell her friends “no” when they want to accompany her—even when that seems like a really bad idea.

Tef has essentially the same goal, but from the perspective of the animated people. Up until she mounts the effort to rescue Coppelia, everything Tef does is aimed at benefiting the colony.

There’s plenty of tension and excitement, given the number of capers and close escapes. The fragility of the automata plus Arc’s brashness adds another level of tension.

The setting is interesting, although we don’t really learn all that much about it. Most notable is probably the fact that the ruling nobility base their claim to power on their magical ability, but it turns out that very few of them have actually mastered magic; they just use magical items created by others.

There’s a clear message here about inequality and people at the top who don’t deserve to be there, but it’s not too heavy-handed.

Con: For some reason, I didn’t make any emotional attachments to any of the characters, so I didn’t feel particularly sad when anyone died nor very excited at the conclusion.

I thought the big golem gave up a bit too easily.

Coppelia sometimes seems to have 21st-Century American sensibilities regarding injustice and inequality.

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Adrian Tchaikovsky Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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