Mad Tinker’s Daughter, by J.S. Morin (40:00)

IOD-MadTinkersDaughterThere are times when too little information might just be enough.

What I gleaned about the story: In a dual reality, where free people live on one side, but are enslaved by aliens on the other, a young woman and her crew of renegades have formed a resistance of sorts. Armed with the bits of tech they can either steal or extrapolate, these few hope to change the world – both worlds – for the better. (But I’ve got to admit I’m guessing big-time here.)

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WTF #1: Too little information is both a blessing and a curse.

Analysis: In previous reviews, I’ve sometimes complained about having too little information. The line between mystery and distracting ignorance is a fine one, and for me, this story balances very precariously along that line. As I mentioned in the story summary, there appears to be a duality to this story world, and while I am intrigued to learn what’s going on, I find this a particularly frustrating thing to be blind about, because it interferes with my ability to build the world in my head. And without that, I can’t judge things, I can’t place things… There are just too many foundational things missing for me to be able to orient myself in the story and fully immerse.

I am particularly frustrated by this because the POV character does know what’s going on, and from my perspective as reader, I always feel cheated when a POV character knows crucial facts that the author simply chooses not to mention or explain. It strikes me as a form of breaking faith with the reader. I don’t believe that Rynn (the protag) should start info-dumping an internal monologue about the state of reality as she knows it, but there are one or two fundamental points that I think the author should have found a way to convey.

Let me put it another way. If you were reading about a bank heist set in a world where gravity worked in reverse, it would get in your way of enjoying the bank heist story if you kept seeing characters swinging along the sidewalk, dangling from hand-holds, with their legs in the sky, but the author never told you why. Wouldn’t it? IMO, something as fundamental as the nature of the physical reality in which the story takes place should not be held back as an intrigue device. It’s common knowledge to the characters, and as such, colors everything they do. And I can’t understand their choices if I don’t understand the potential consequences.

Kudos #1: Too little information is both a blessing and a curse.

Analysis: Having accepted that there is a conspicuous omission in my understanding of this story world, and even though I continue to grumble about it internally as I read, the world is nonetheless fabulous in its detail and sophistication. And by continuing to trickle out little bits of this rich reality, the author does an excellent job in distracting me from the giant gaping blind-spot. So while I don’t like the choice, I am impressed by the execution, having made that choice.

Kudos #2: Excellent world building.

Analysis: As I mentioned above, the constructed world seems rich with detail and very well thought out. From what I’ve seen so far, the implications and consequences of world features have been carried through to logical secondary features. For example, there are language differences between the two realities, and so the writing systems are appropriately dissimilar. I’m sure better examples will appear when I read more later, but even this much is a reassuring sign that this world will be self-consistent.

Kudos #3: Excellent prose.

Analysis: The structure and flow of the writing itself is very smooth. Descriptions are good, and language seems very appropriate to the milieu.

Addendum: Upon reading the entire book, I found its high editorial standards to be consistent and was thoroughly entertained, so Mad Tinker’s Daughter was chosen as one of the 8 books to represent ImmerseOrDie in the first IOD StoryBundle collection.

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About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is uniquely unqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.