The Technologists has me reaching for nineteenth-century circus poster adjectives: stupendous, extraordinary, death-defying! This novel is a pleasure to dive into, although it's difficult to know where to place it on the literary spectrum - not exactly a historical novel and not exactly a fantasy, not quite a thriller (as advertised) nor a crime story. Finally it dawned on me - Matthew Pearl's 1868 Boston comes to us through the idealism of a comic book. The villain is dastardly, and the heroes have hearts of gold. Both sides of good and evil draw on new discoveries in science and innovations in engineering to give themselves what seem like superpowers. A portion of the comic-book quality of Pearl's Boston may come from the past itself, from his research into the real-life idealists who founded and inaugurated the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1860s. Part of it, ...
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