Monday, May 7, 2012

Valjeanne Jeffers' THE SWITCH II: CLOCKWORK

I've never read any steampunk before -- not that I'm not interested in the genre, it's just that a guy only has so many hours in a day! So Valjeanne Jeffers' THE SWITCH II: CLOCKWORK, is my first dip in the steampunk pool. And it was a nice swim, to be sure. It kept me turning pages to find out what would happen next, what surprises would be lying in wait for me.

This is a difficult one to describe. It's character-driven, that's for sure. With some nice Machiavellian twists and turns in the plot. There's plenty of action, and the whole story moves like a locomotive. Jeffers wastes not a word. The story centers around a group of rebels attempting to overthrow a corrupt world government by replacing them with doubles -- the Switch, of the title, in a race against the clock. The characters are all well-drawn and very real, from Z100, a rather cold, distant and somewhat ruthless woman, to the heroic Carlos, sweet and capable Lotus, and the enigmatic Ripple, Guardian of the world of Tundra. It's set in a future world, in a city called York, where the wealthy, upper-class live above-ground in a world powered by computers, while the poor underdwellers, who do all the work, live in a subterranean world powered by steam. Sex is a dangerous business in this world, especially for women. So there are special clubs and an assortment of androids willing to serve your every need. Identity and identity-theft is at the core of this unique and fast-paced novel: who is real, and who is an impostor. Jeffers, (poet, and author of the excellent 4-volume Immortal series) has written one sexy, steamy (no pun intended) novel here -- a novel where you never know what's coming at you next. Just when you think you've made a left turn -- you've actually turned right. The best comparison and the highest praise I can give it is to say that she has walked boldly into territory mapped out long ago by Phillip K. Dick, and if he were alive and writing steampunk today, this is a book that would make him smile. So check out this novel of plot, counter plot, masquerade, robots, Revolution, quirky and likable characters, and some rather nasty villains. And while I'm at it, let mention that it has a totally unique, wonderful wrap around cover painted by Quinton Veal.