The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis


Journeyed there and back again
8.5 for this one from me.
Well worth of being a book club pick and great start to a series.
Hi Alucard. Looked at this and then Tregillis' author's page. The Milkweed trilogy looks really good. Have you read that also? I have always avoided alternate history but the reviewers make it sound pretty good with a blend of fantasy/sci-fi/something else, so I'm not sure but tempted. Lines like this from the first review of The Coldest War make me want to stay away: "With America trapped in an endless Depression (but with Nixon as president; the first rule of alternate history is: Nixon is always president), the Cold War pits a very overmatched Britain against an even large USSR."

I want as little realism as possible in my reading.


In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
The Mechanical was my first Tregillis book. As far as it goes, the alternative history is quite removed from our world. The book takes place in 1926 in Europe and New world. Dutch rule the world practically, there is no USA, there's New Holland and New France there. The English aren't even a player in the book.
As you can see, the setting is quite alternative because of the time and geo-political situation, you wont find it resembling our reality.


Journeyed there and back again
7 for me.

- Only really liked one character: Visser.
- The direction of the story was left to be desired.
- Would've liked less description.
- A few interesting concepts and always nice to see some philosophers added to the mix.


Journeyed there and back again
Finally read it after it went on sale last week. What a unique and interesting concept, and a perfect vehicle for some Deep Thoughts about Free Will, slavery, sentience, Frankenstein's monster, loyalty...It occurs 1926, about 250 years after Huygens used alchemy to animate robots which were then made ubiquitous in Dutch society as unquestioning slaves from then on. The book suggests how this changes the course of history in that humans are no longer developing but totally dependent on and in control of a source of limitless power that walks and talks. But does it think? Is it sentient? Is it an unaware non-sentient tool or a sentient slave? Therein lies the basis for the big story which focuses on one mechanical who thinks freely and the effects of that on the world.

It's pretty brilliant, certainly unique and becomes a fast action thriller with aspects of horror of the Frankenstein type.

9 of 10, absolutely must reading.
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