Imprisoned for life aboard a zeppelin that floats high above a fantastic metropolis, the greeting-card writer Harold Winslow pens his memoirs. His only companions are the disembodied voice of Miranda Taligent, the only woman he has ever loved, and the cryogenically frozen body of her father Prospero, the genius and industrial magnate who drove her insane.
The tale of Harolds life is also one of an alternate reality, a lucid waking dream in which the well-heeled have mechanical men for servants, where the realms of fairy tales can be built from scratch, where replicas of deserted islands exist within skyscrapers. As Harolds childhood infatuation with Miranda changes over twenty years to love and then to obsession, the visionary inventions of her father also change Harolds entire world, transforming it from a place of music and miracles to one of machines and noise. And as Harold heads toward a last desperate confrontation with Prospero to save Mirandas life, he finds himself an unwitting participant in the creation of the greatest invention of them all: the perpetual motion machine.
Beautifully written, stunningly imagined, and wickedly funny, The Dream of Perpetual Motion is a heartfelt meditation on the place of love in a world dominated by technology.
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aboard the good ship chrysalis
Into. The. Sea?
spiraling slowly down and crashing into the open sea?
Morning, and the voice has already begun. It was speaking even before I awoke. It has never stopped.
If my reckoning of time is still accurate, the day on which I begin to write this journal marks the one-year anniversary of my incarceration aboard the good ship Chrysalis, a high-altitude zeppelin designed by that most prodigious and talented of twentieth-century inventors, Prospero Taligent. It has also been a year since I last opened my mouth to speak. To anyone. especially my captor. I refuse to speak to my captor precisely because it is the one thing that she desires, and my silence is the only form of protest that remains to me.
Writing, however, is a different thing altogether from speaking. The written word has different properties, and different powers. If I learned anything in the world before my ...
Although it has steampunk trappings and a focus on mechanical inventions, I found [this novel] to be, at heart, a book about communication, particularly the dichotomy of language and silence...
Palmer has said that one of the joys of writing a novel (as opposed to an academic paper), is that it allows the reader to interact with the text and bring to it his or her own interpretation. As an English Ph.D. myself, I enjoyed analyzing and interpreting the book as much as reading it, but that will not be everyone's cup of tea. If you like many-layered, literary novels you'll find much to enjoy in The Dream of Perpetual Motion, even if you're not usually a reader of science fiction or steampunk. In spite of a few flaws, the novel indicates that Palmer is a very promising writer.
(Reviewed by Cindy Anderson).
Full Review (1147 words).
Is Perpetual Motion Just a "Dream?"
In The Dream of Perpetual Motion, Prospero claims to have created a perpetual motion engine that can run his Zeppelin indefinitely; supposedly, it will never run out of energy, and will never need a new influx of energy. Is that possible in the real world? According to scientists, no. That doesn't mean that mankind hasn't tried to produce such a machine; in fact we have evidence of attempts going back to the Renaissance.
In order for anything to be a "perpetual motion" device, it must be a closed system (one that, once started, does not need to be "fed" any kind of fuel, or acted upon by anything outside of itself). If you have ever seen one of those "drinking birds" with the red liquid at ...
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