The Teleportation Accident
The Accident begins in a Cabaret-like Weimar Berlin, but wanders from there to a McCarthy Hollywood. And even as far as a science fiction future – except our main character Egon Loeser (is that Loser?) and his friends are staging an experimental play which seeks to recreate a 17th-century accident that killed the whole audience in a Parisian theatre and loosed the devil. The only Hitler crossing apolitical Loeser’s mind is a beauty he used to tutor named Adele.
Some bill this book as steampunk. Not enough gadgets or mindless action, too much philosophy. This is a historic genre, meaning that it harks back to a time when the genres weren’t so balkanized or formalized as we witness today, when every educated person had a dozen or so titles that needed to be read in a year – and any might have many story elements. Berlin seems better drawn than Los Angeles which, although important points are made – the only place in California that has real public transport? Disneyland sports anachronistic parking meters and Britishisms in the language. That’s if you’re going to judge this as historical fiction.
Overwhelming numbers of characters sometimes absurdly drawn confused me. Even prepared for a machine that can instantaneously change stage scenery (and which might also be used as a weapon in a world war waged by ex-pats against their own), I couldn’t handle the leaps in the mind of Bailey, up until then a minor character. I think the reader should at least be prepared by a careful friend to read on through five or six pages until the teleportation clicks. Although I laughed out loud reading on the bus – something I haven’t done for ages – this was at the beginning. This smart, challenging enfant terrible of a book should be read, but not for light entertainment.