Warning: Contains Spoilers!
The three rats seemed everywhere. They swarmed into baskets, upset pots, spilled jugs, broke bottles and scattered grain. One of them bounded into a bowl of dried apricots and began to fling them at whoever came near, before dashing away again.
Aufwader’s Thoughts: There’s a lot to appreciate about this chapter, but my favourite part is and will always be the positively gleeful descriptions of the mechanical rats which Henry sets upon Mistress Dritchly’s kitchen. We don’t need an Iribian’s fine perception to practically feel the mischievous delight beaming off the page. ‘Hoho, heehee,’ Mr Jarvis seems to chortle at us, ‘look who managed to smuggle rats into a book with animals so far from the main focus that they’re not even real!’ Well played, Robin. We knew you’d find a way to sneak rodents in at some point, even if they are made of tin.
The crux of this chapter is not the comedy of Henry’s pranks, however, but the tragedy of Brindle’s incinerated nightboat, and all that the loss of it implies. Malmes-Wutton’s ‘celestial visitor’ is now completely cut off from his home and people, and, it seems, will have to be content with making a life for himself among the folk of the Uplifted Isles.
Sad as it all is, I’m highly intrigued by the brief glimpse we get of Iribian aesthetics and technology; fungus-like desks? Translucent coppery interiors? Even a command deck complete with observation screen and floating keyboards. He might not be from heaven, but I daresay Brindle’s home planet is a good deal more interesting than than anything the Elizabethan afterlife has to offer.
Matt’s Thoughts: Well, that explains the meat. In so far as, ‘we eat fungus that grows inside mechanical animals’ is an explanation. Clearly, this was another one of those solutions for human survival set up by the ‘special ambassadors’ that everyone on Malmes-Wutton has since grown used to.
So this is the point where I ask – Mr Jarvis, there’s very little on your website about this: how on earth did you come up with this idea? Clockwork Elizabethans in space? Has this ever been done by anyone else? Is this a completely new genre? It’s absolutely blowing my mind (in a good way!).
It also makes me wonder how many other worlds and ideas you have lurking in that brain of yours that we will never know about, just because they’re too unusual to fit into book form. I’m in awe.