Monday, March 16, 2020

Come the Revolution, by Ian Tregillis

[F&SF]
★★★★☆ An epic story of an indomitable spirit fighting an irresistible servitude.

(Clockwork Fantasy) In an alternate 18th Century Holland, Mab was created to serve, but machines serve in endless pain, and she longs to find a way to escape the constraints her makers put on her. (16,549 words; Time: 55m)

Recommended By: 👍RHorton.r+1 👍STomaino+2 (Q&A)


"Come the Revolution," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 03-04|20, published on by .

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

Review: 2020.141 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: This is the story of how Mab went from a manufactured drudge to a revolutionary. It covers about 40 years of her history, starting with her creation, detailing the miserable work she had, how she met others like her, and—most importantly—how she evolved her personal philosophy to the point where she could actually be a revolutionary.

For a machine, Mab has a complex character. Even early we, we see her disapprove of young Piet’s behavior. She loves Maikel. She holds a grudge against Jig. At one point she’s ready to die, but when the opportunity to resist presents itself, she’s ready to seize it.

In a world where her kind have very limited ability to make their own decisions, she becomes adept in evading the spirit of the rules, even when it’s painful to do so. The apex of her accomplishments is when she goes hunting for missing pieces from Maikel’s body, knowing they’ll force her to return to the Forge, where she hopes to be destroyed—not knowing they’ll inadvertently give her the opportunity to get free.

The setting of the story merits mention as well. In this universe, Christian Huygens developed the technology that makes these clockwork automata function, and with that invention, Holland was able to make itself a world power. At that point in our history, it was a commercial power, but it lost its standing owning to its military weakness. Here we imagine a universe where these machines were able to defeat the armies of England, France, and the Pope. We only get a taste of what’s going on in this world, so a big appeal of the novels will be seeing that fleshed out.

Con: Does the guild realize just how smart it’s making these “clackers?” If so, they’re idiots. In no way do they need the clackers to be smart enough to philosophize. Likewise, making them capable of feeling resentment is a major error, assuming the guild is even aware of it.

A separate issue is that Mab is the only character with her own goals, so the story only has one single plot thread.

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