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Angelmaker

by Nick Harkaway

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,0846512,972 (3.91)89
Avoiding the lifestyle of his late gangster father by working as a clock repairman, Joe Spork fixes an unusual device that turns out to be a former secret agent's doomsday machine and incurs the wrath of the government and a diabolical South Asian dictator.
  1. 10
    Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold (kitzyl)
    kitzyl: Commonalities include: nostalgia for the golden (criminal/stage magic) days gone by, details of an old and mysterious craft (horology/sleight of hand), flashbacks to character's childhood which explains their nowadays persona, mystery-thriller involving technological machines (truth-automata-bees/television).… (more)
  2. 11
    American Gods by Neil Gaiman (BookshelfMonstrosity)
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» See also 89 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
Joe Spork - alternately known throughout the novel as Joshua Joe Spork, Spork the Clock, and Crazy Joe Spork - is an horologist. A hapless horologist, to be all alliterative about it. He makes and fixes clocks. Not many would take him to be the son of a London's most infamous gangster.

Edie Banister is a slight, silvery-haired spinster. An octogenarian with a blind pug dog at her side, not many would take her for a lethally trained secret agent who throughout her life has waged war, across countries and continents, with a single evil villain.

Shem Shem Tsien is that evil villain.

With the threads of their pasts and the threads of their presents, Nick Harkaway weaves these three individuals together along with a colorful cast of supporting characters into a sprawling, unputdownable adventure riddled with both Bond-like intrigue and wry humor.

Read this book.

( )
  markflanagan | Jul 13, 2020 |
I was about a hundred pages from the end of this book when a friend of mine saw it and asked “Why is it called Angelmaker?” I opened my mouth to explain, and then just stood there, silent, looking a lot like a guy just standing there with his mouth open. I confessed I didn't know, but then corrected myself and pointed out that there was a device in the story called the Angelmaker, “but I don't know why it's called that.”

Describing the novel is an equally tricky prospect. It's vaguely similar to other things: the setting is like China Miéville's London in Kraken, but with crime capers and clockwork instead of gods and magic. The taciturn but strong protagonist reminded me of Shadow in Neal Gaiman's American Gods, though let's be honest: Joe Spork is a way better name than Shadow.

None of this is meant to imply that Angelmaker is derivative rubbish. Nick Harkaway is a talented writer and manages to pile genres atop one another without the whole lot coming a-tumbling down around him. Both protagonists have reasons to reminisce about the past, allowing frequent flashbacks to flesh out the plot without it seeming overly forced. The clockwork technology aspect might set off alarm bells in some people – steampunk is something of a fad right now in literature, and sometimes one feels that some gears have been thrown into a story as a cheap way of adding a few readers. But here the quaint technology serves a real purpose, and the vague hints of quantum-clockwork technology is a neat new idea.

Overall Angelmaker was solid rather than stunning, but being solid for nearly six hundred pages is no mean feat, and it deserves all the praise and awards it's getting. ( )
  imlee | Jul 7, 2020 |
I was about a hundred pages from the end of this book when a friend of mine saw it and asked “Why is it called Angelmaker?” I opened my mouth to explain, and then just stood there, silent, looking a lot like a guy just standing there with his mouth open. I confessed I didn't know, but then corrected myself and pointed out that there was a device in the story called the Angelmaker, “but I don't know why it's called that.”

Describing the novel is an equally tricky prospect. It's vaguely similar to other things: the setting is like China Miéville's London in Kraken, but with crime capers and clockwork instead of gods and magic. The taciturn but strong protagonist reminded me of Shadow in Neal Gaiman's American Gods, though let's be honest: Joe Spork is a way better name than Shadow.

None of this is meant to imply that Angelmaker is derivative rubbish. Nick Harkaway is a talented writer and manages to pile genres atop one another without the whole lot coming a-tumbling down around him. Both protagonists have reasons to reminisce about the past, allowing frequent flashbacks to flesh out the plot without it seeming overly forced. The clockwork technology aspect might set off alarm bells in some people – steampunk is something of a fad right now in literature, and sometimes one feels that some gears have been thrown into a story as a cheap way of adding a few readers. But here the quaint technology serves a real purpose, and the vague hints of quantum-clockwork technology is a neat new idea.

Overall Angelmaker was solid rather than stunning, but being solid for nearly six hundred pages is no mean feat, and it deserves all the praise and awards it's getting. ( )
  leezeebee | Jul 6, 2020 |
This is well written, with a good structure and alternating points of view that keep the reader interested until the last page. However, this novel is too far in the genre fiction territory for me; it reads like a spy thriller combined with a Guy Ritchie movie and clockwork. ( )
  LubicaP | Mar 21, 2020 |
It's not a great story, and the second half isn't as good as the first, but this was highly entertaining on audio. ( )
  tombrown | Feb 21, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
But the dead hand of patrimony is about to tap Joe on the shoulder. A commission to repair a rare automaton turns sour when he inadvertently activates a postwar superweapon, throwing him into the path of a 50-year struggle between an ageing female super-spy, an order of craftsman warrior-monks who follow the dictates of John Ruskin and a psychopathic South Asian princeling chasing an army of robot bees. And Harkaway is off, on 500 pages of chases, subterfuges and double-crosses that sometimes resemble Count of Monte Cristo-era Dumas seen through the prism of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. New twists and turns are produced with showmanlike relish: Submarines! Armoured steam trains! Faceless clockwork soldiers! Death-defying escapes from underground laboratories! There’s a girl to get as well, of course — one with a murky past to confront. Will Joe be able to grapple with his father’s legacy and save the world? Wild conceits aside, Harkaway’s story is a joyously old-fashioned one at heart. Of course he will.
added by kitzyl | editThe Telegraph, Tim Martin (Mar 6, 2012)
 
Nick Harkaway is a hyphen-novelist. A tragical-comical-historical-pastoral novelist, if you like; or – more precisely in the case of this second book – a fantasy-gangster-espionage-romance novelist. The Gone-Away World, Harkaway's well-received debut, was a slightly overfilled post-apocalyptic pick-and-mix of genres. Just as blithe in its disregard of verisimilitude and generic constraint, Angelmaker flits between old-fashioned villains in London's East End and covert action in 1940s south Asia, arranging its whistlestop plot around the modern-day discovery of a weapon of mass destruction in the unlikely form of a skepful of clockwork bees. It's an ambitious, crowded, restless caper, cleverly told and utterly immune to precis.
added by kitzyl | editThe Guardian, James Purdon (Feb 12, 2012)
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Harkaway, Nickprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Booher, JasonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Neill, GlennCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
The gangster is the man of the city,
with the city's language and knowledge,
with its queer and dishonest skills
and its terrible daring,
carrying his life in his hands like a placard,
like a club.
--Robert Warshow
Dedication
For Clare, like everything else.
First words
At seven fifteen a.m., his bedroom slightly colder than the vacuum of space, Joshua Joseph Spork wears a longish leather coat and a pair of his father's golfing socks.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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