taking joy in human unreason

Tinker, by Wen Spencer

Tinker is an 18-year-old human living in a world where two dimensions meet and mesh: the dimension containing Earth, and the dimension containing Elfhome. She runs a junkyard in the special city of Pittsburg–special because it spends most of the month on Elfhome instead of Earth. To Tinker, Earth is a dangerous place filled with too many people and not enough magic. Tinker is important, though, because not only does she know how to manipulate magic as much as any human can, but family secrets make her a wanted woman among elves and humans alike.

This was a weird book. It wasn’t bad, but there were some noticable imbalances. For instance, Tinker is a rather high-powered individual: she can manipulate magic, she runs a successful junkyard and has the know-how to put just about anything together, it turns out she’s the only person alive that can build a certain gate, etc., etc. Her dealings with the elves only grant her more powers and authority. It’s a little too convenient.

Another imbalance: the sex. There’s a lot of it for a book of this style (action-driven modern fantasy). Now, the girl is 18. When I was 18 (and 19, and 20…), sex featured rather prominently in my thoughts, so I’m not disapproving of that. But the way Spencer sets up Tinker is that she is suddenly taking a rather strong interest in men at the age of 18. Zero to hero, so to speak.

Aside from even the sudden interest in sex is the near-rape scene and the life-changing sex that each occur in the book. Less than 50 pages from one another.

On the plus side, Spencer sets up a rather cool magical system in Tinker that is not unlike simple electricity and circuits, if I understood correctly. The elves are also very well done, albeit not too unique aside from the magic system. Some like Elf Sternberg may disagree that longevity (immortality) necessarily brings cultural stagnation, but it’s a common theme in the creation of elvish societies, and Spencer didn’t break from that.

In all, I’d honestly call the book a good, mediocre action-based modern fantasy. Definitely worth a read, but I’m rather hoping Spencer doesn’t write a sequel for it, as Tinker as a character is about done developing powers, and reading about her day-to-day interactions with the group she ends up with doesn’t strike me as particularly interesting.

(That said, I’m still a big fan of Elizabeth Haydon’s Rhapsody series, as, while the characters do hit full powers by the end of the first or second novel, there’s still plenty more to tell. I’d like to be pleasantly surprised by Spencer, too.)

  • Oh, I don’t disagree with the idea that longevity leads to “stagnation” necessarily. I just disagree that it’s a viable long-term prospects. Evolutionarily successful species are far too restless to remain still as competition is born and bred into us, and technologically advanced species (of the kind I write about ) that have adopted longevity also have on hand the tools necessary to break through the stagnation issue. What really stymies a culture is the question of exactly where they are going, not where they are standing.