Homunculus (Langdon St. Ives Series, Book 1)

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What did you love best about Homunculus? Blaylock is one of the few writers I've read who can effectively combine so many contrasting effects, making the whole much greater than any one part. His scenes use horror and slapstick, sometime together; for example, the resurrection scene with the peafowl and the piano , disappointment, joy, excitement, tenderness, mystery with and without a capital M , wonder. There are moments where grotesque evil triumphs, moments where the outcome of choices are morally ambiguous, there are scenes filled with adventure, despair and, finally, a satisfying resolution that leaves the door open for new adventures.

As I said in the headline, his writing is like watching someone juggling chainsaws and custard pies. You never know if the next page will bring tragedy or helpless laughter. As to plot, well, it's unusual, to say the least, and part of the pleasure is trying to determine exactly what it is. Blaylock does not write typical fantasy stories with simple words drawing clear lines from simple beginning A to simple ending B, with the obligatory pages in-between filled with vampire love, magic swords, bloody battles, and black-or-white choices.

He includes lots of conflict, defeats and victories. Just not what you are expecting if your usual reading consists of Tolkien-knockoffs and page "epics. Heed Coleridge, and employ "the willing suspension of disbelief" and so awaken " the mind's attention from the lethargy of custom, and directing it to the loveliness and the wonders of the world before us.

Blaylock's stories to a T. Who was your favorite character and why? Two that stand out for me are Shiloh, the messiah, and Bill Kraken, sometime grave robber and squid monger. Blaylock writes great characters, if you approach him without preconceptions. His secondary characters are terrific; and they are all woven inextricably into the fabric of the tale.

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Blaylock writes very unique, large-than-life characters, such as Narbondo, the evil genius. But even better, he writes Everyman characters who, through their actions, show that greatness has always been within; that each person is unique and not a stock actor. Yet Blaylock never moralizes; he let's action and dialogue take their course without telling the reader "look how noble this person is.

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He had the right feel for the story and the characters. He gave each character a clearly identifiable voice, but more than that, he incorporated the emotions and thoughts of each one into the narration. His voice trembles when someone feels strong emotion, sounding outraged, afraid, uncertain, or enlightened, as the situation requires. When people are bored, they sound bored. Carrington adds pauses, varies the tones and changes the pace to fit the action and situation. This was the first time I have heard him, and it will not be the last.

A fine talent. Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you? Again, it's hard to pick out just one moment. His scenes move from the informative to the horrifying to the comic to the thrilling.

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I don't want to describe any in detail, as I dislike spoilers. Any additional comments? Blaylock is under-appreciated. Many are wonderful. What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you? A plot in whic I cared about any of the characters. The action was too often distracted with detailed world-descriptions. I wanted the characters to just get on with it rather than spending so long on the rich descriptions.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Homunculus? Leave it as-is. It's just not my style. Beautifully detailed world. I could easily see, smell and taste it! What disappointed you about Homunculus? There is absolutely no momentum to the novel whatsover it just feels like a bunch of English people sitting aroudn being English-- and not even amusingly. Everything-- More than two hours into the novel it felt as thought nothing at all had happened, and none of the characters were even remotely likable.

I despised this novel. His performance is fine-- It fits the tone of the novel, which is stuffy and English. This is supposed to be one of the key novels in the development of steampunk. If this were the only novel to push steampunk into existance, I can't see how the genre would still exist. Why would anyone want to replicate this? Ives is a man of science and a member of the Royal Society. With the help of his dependable and discreet manservant, St.

Ives prefers to spend his time secretly building a spaceship in his countryside silo. But currently he??? Things get confusing when it??? Soon St. Ives, Jack, and a host of other friends and enemies become embroiled in a madcap adventure featuring a toymaker and his lovely daughter, a captain with a smokable peg leg, the scientists of the Royal Society, an evil millionaire, a dirigible steered by a skeleton, a tiny little man in a jar who may be an alien, a cult evangelist who wants to bring his mother back to life, a love-spurned alchemist who keeps trying home remedies to cure his acne, and a lot of carp and zombies.

As you may have guessed, Homunculus is zany and completely over-the-top in the right kind of way. The villains are meant to be caricatures??? They do stupid things such as leaving the curtains open while animating corpses for the evangelist to claim as converts, and tip-toeing up dark staircases carrying bombs with lit fuses. Even though Homunculus is packed with action and very funny when it???

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  6. Fortunately, that??? The final scene is a screwball melee as all the heroes and villains, and thousands of London??? Nigel Carrington was a brilliant choice for narrator.


    There are a lot of similar characters in Homunculus, but Mr. Carrington made them distinguishable. He also hit exactly the right tone with the humor which ranged from deadpan to black comedy to zany farce. On my website, I've specifically recommended the audio version of Homunculus just because Nigel Carrington??? If you??? Published in , this is one of the earlier steampunk novels. In fact, Blaylock, along with friends K. Jeter and Tim Powers, all of whom studied with Philip K.

    Dick, are considered fathers of modern steampunk, and it was Jeter who coined the term to describe their work. Homunculus won the Philip K. Dick Award in I'll be honest, this is one of those books that takes a while to get into. But once you get past the introduction and prologue, and settle into the proper action chapter 2 on your download , Homunculus is brilliant. The story is epic and detailed, and maintains a deadpan humour throughout, painting crazy characters and absurd situations in whimsical situations.

    This book is categorically not for realists, but a delightful romp. Nigel Carrington's narration is perfect in communicating the surreal British humour that runs throughout the whole story, and I loved the almost Blackadder tones he maintained for Langdon St Ives' character. If you enjoy the alternative magical realities created in books like Aaronovitch's River of London trilogy, and Kim Newman's Anno Dracula books, give this a go!

    I've come back to this book time and again because I am always amazed by Blaylock's perfect capture of the texture and rhythms of the Victorian period of which he writes. Neither heavy-handed nor affected, his use of period sensibilities and language comes through not only in perfectly balanced dialogue, but also his sharply observed descriptions and well-paced narratives of action.

    His characters are at first an array of pantomime parodies the baddie is a hunchback named Narbando? And we cannot ignore the story itself, of course. Throw a cast of characters like this into a landscape littered with all the possibilities of a twisted version of Victorian London, drop in the possibility of immortality, sprinkle with zombies, and of course you are going to get a good story, but Blaylock's weird and darkly humorous mind has made it a GREAT story. And the thing I love best about this book is how he treats both the characters and the landscapes: from the grand sweeping views of the London cityscape over which passes a dirigible flown by an animate corpse, to the intimate exchange between Langdon St Ives and the butler he believes he is fooling with a ridiculous disguise, Blaylock pulls it off with a perfect blend of warmth, detail, and style that would be intimidating if it wasn't so tongue in cheek.

    I admit I began Homonculus reluctantly, with preconceived stereotypes of the whole steampunk thing, and very ready to dislike and mock the book. But I am ready to admit how wrong I was, and have gotten so much enjoyment not only from this book but other James P. Blaylock works in this and other series that I am grateful I took a chance on this all those years ago still unsure about the steampunk scene, however. Is there anything you would change about this book? The characters are both funny and dark and believable.

    Some of the plot needed further development, but on the whole I enjoyed the story.

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    Would you recommend Homunculus to your friends? Why or why not? Recommend they read Skulls first. Could you see Homunculus being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be? Found myself skipping bits. I so wanted to enjoy this - the subject sounds wonderful and there are great reviews all over the internet.

    However, to me it just reads like a third rate imitation of Douglas Adams. And why settle for an imitation when you can have the real thing? The humour just doesn't quite cut the mustard. Don't let me put you off, I realise I am in the minority due to the consensus otherwise on various websites, but I'd suggest thinking twice if you are a fan of Hitchhiker's Guide or Dirk Gently. Very disappointed. I operate hydraulic a press. Without these cookies, we can't provide services to you.

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    This information helps us design a better experience for all users. To learn more about cookies, please see our cookie policy. To learn more about how we use and protect your data, please see our privacy policy. Homunculus Langdon St. Ives Series James P. Blaylock Author Beneath London Langdon St. The Aylesford Skull Langdon St. Lord Kelvin's Machine Langdon St. Ives Series Book 1 James P.

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