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Time Hunter: The Clockwork Woman

by Lucius

(Telos, £7.99, 85 pages, paperback, also available in deluxe, signed and numbered, limited edition hardback priced £25.00, published June 2004.)

Review by Russell Cook

cover scan"When Honoré and Emily connect, the adventures begin."

The Clockwork Woman is alive and well and in the future she has escaped her past. A long time ago, she met Honoré and Emily, but her future is dependent on the present; Honoré sees her as he and Emily walk the streets, through the crowds he senses something is wrong, a connection, eyes meet. So begins another adventure for Honoré Lechasseur and Emily Blandish.

The story is told in the first person through the eyes of The Clockwork Woman, created by the inventor Sir Edward Fanshawe as a companion in every sense of the word, to ease his lonely days and nights...

One must take a leap of faith with this story. In the nineteenth century I doubt that anyone would have a fully functioning Automaton along with mechanical dogs and a housekeeper of artificial intelligence... Stepping into Sir Edward Fanshawe's house, we enter a world of fantasy, sidestepping Aesop's fables and Hans Christian Andersen, with a little bit of Mary Shelley thrown in for good measure.

Taking the fantastical elements of classic nineteenth century literature with references to Mary Wollstencraft's "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman", Claire Bott has woven a tale of self discovery. At all times Dove (as The Clockwork Woman is named) is centre stage as she evolves throughout the novella, with her discovery of emotion, and her confusion dealing with anger, fear, love, hate and the road to free will and choice.

Of course, Honoré and Emily are there to help, but without Dove and her spirit and ingenuity they would be in a spot of bother. To the benefit of the narrative, there is no real villain of the piece. Robotics aside we are witnessing the early part of the nineteenth century as it was, people living their lives with Honoré, Emily and Dove having to fit in as well as they can or suffer the consequences.

This is an extremely well-written novella; every word counts and contributes to the story. A modern parable, thought-provoking and inspiring. The Time Hunter Novellas go from strength to strength and like "Doctor Who" the format is limitless and open to the wonders of the imagination.

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