by Nick Harkaway

Puzzling, funny, thrilling, disturbing, this is a magic box of a novel. A mad dictator seeks a mysterious device which could turn out to be a Doomsday machine. Between him and the end of the world stand a 92-year-old spy and a clockmaker. What touched me most was the love of carefully hand-crafted things which shines out of each page.


At the workbench, tea in hand (the approved commencement of a difficult task, the stricture of patience to be borne strongly in mind, lest one be hasty and make an irretrievable error early in the proceedings) he contemplates the fragments before him. All right, well, simple enough: copy and photograph it all. Easy, in these digital days. Joshua Joseph has no great hatred of modern technology- he just mistrusts the effortless, textureless surfaces and the ease with which it trains you to do things in the way most convenient to the machine. Above all, he mistrusts duplication. A rare thing becomes a commonplace thing. A skill becomes a feature. The end is more important than the means. The child of the soul gives place to a product of the system.


Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Grimus by Salman Rushdie

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