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Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti Paperback – May 10, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Prime Books; Second Ed edition (May 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607012537
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607012535
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This steampunk-flavored circus story begins with a disturbing undertone, like an out-of-tune calliope, and develops in hints and shadows. Touring a drained postwar world, the Mechanical Circus Tresaulti rarely visits a city twice in anyone's lifetime; borders are lax, and lives are short. The circus's performers have no time for training, instead undergoing terrible trials in the ringmaster's workshop to gain their skills. Enter the "government man," who dreams of bringing back the order and security of the old world and wants the ringmaster to help him. She shares many of his dreams but mistrusts his offers of alliance. The drama and climax come not from the rivalry between the two but their similarities as they decide how to use their powers and who will suffer the consequences. Fans of grim fantasy will love this menacing and fascinating debut." --Publishers Weekly

"{T]his "Tale of the Circus Tresaulti" doesn't resemble steampunk so much as Gothic in the tradition of Poe and Mary Shelley, where a lone inventor's creations mingle science with the occult... Beginning as fractured narrative, offering only hints and glimpses of the truth, Mechanique comes together as the story of a strange collective which can't remain entirely untouched by the outer world, though it seems to move in its own private sphere. While they're neither a band of demigods nor a group of superheroes in haphazard alliance, these retooled traveling players have a collective power not even they quite realize. Misfits, desperados, ordinary schmoes - whatever they were has undergone a metamorphosis. Shabby as it may seem, the Circus Tresaulti can exude the aura of timeless myth and legend . . . Beyond every revelation, setback and dramatic moment, the wonder remains." -- Locus

"Mechanique is set in a magical, post-apocalyptic future in which a circus of magical, immortal, mechanical men and women wends its way through a barren landscape between cities torn by a ceaseless war...This is a beautiful little jewel of a book, told in scintillating little flashes like light through the facets of a gem. It offers unreliable point of view, an omniscient narrator who almost dissolves into the narrative, and a series of striking, fantastic images that only slowly reveal the shape of the story behind them. It's beautifully written from the sentence level to the structural . . . " --Realms of Fantasy

"Mechanique is a brutal gem of a novel--a fierce, gilded textual circus." -- Cherie Priest, bestselling author of Boneshaker and Dreadnought

"Mechanique is something unique and elegant."-- io9 -- io9.com

"This steampunk-flavored circus story begins with a disturbing undertone, like an out-of-tune calliope, and develops in hints and shadows. Touring a drained postwar world, the Mechanical Circus Tresaulti rarely visits a city twice in anyone's lifetime; borders are lax, and lives are short. The circus's performers have no time for training, instead undergoing terrible trials in the ringmaster's workshop to gain their skills. Enter the "government man," who dreams of bringing back the order and security of the old world and wants the ringmaster to help him. She shares many of his dreams but mistrusts his offers of alliance. The drama and climax come not from the rivalry between the two but their similarities as they decide how to use their powers and who will suffer the consequences. Fans of grim fantasy will love this menacing and fascinating debut." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Valentine's novel has the stylized quality of books by Angela Carter like "The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman," and it displays similar pyrotechnics. Run by a woman known as Boss, the traveling Circus Tresaulti ekes out its existence against a postapocalyptic backdrop of cities rebuilding after "the bombs and the radiation." The setting is unimaginative, but the circus performers, most of them mechanically altered to enhance their acts, come to life in a series of skillful set pieces. Chief among these performers are the aerialists Alec, who has recently (and intentionally) fallen to his death, and Bird, who has replaced him. Together they give the novel its emotional force, as Valentine keeps returning to the reasons for Alec's death: "For anyone who sees it, a moment like that is never in the past; it is always happening. . . . When Bird falls, Alec is falling." In contrast to the complexity of that haunting echo, the plot is more basic, involving the threat from a dastardly "government man." Yet in a highwire act of her own, Valentine still raises the novel above the ordinary through her ability to convey the richness of the circus performers' emotional lives, coupled with impressive writing -- as in a description of Alec's surgically attached wings, every bone-and-brass feather "jigsawed and hammered and smoothed so thin that when it strikes another feather it rings out a clear note."" --The New York Times

More About the Author

Genevieve Valentine's fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Journal of Mythic Arts, Fantasy Magazine, and Apex, and in the anthologies Federations, The Way of the Wizard, Running with the Pack, Teeth, and more. Her nonfiction has appeared in Lightspeed, Weird Tales, Tor.com, and Fantasy Magazine.

Her first novel, Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, is forthcoming from Prime Books.

Her appetite for bad movies is insatiable, a tragedy she tracks on her blog at genevievevalentine.com. She is currently working on a formula to evaluate the awfulness of any given film, a scale that will be measured in Julians to honor Julian Sands, who has bravely uttered some of the worst lines ever filmed,in some of the worst wigs ever made.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By BookGirlR on July 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this book. I'll admit it, I bought Mechanique because the cover and the title intrigued me and I had a 30% off coupon for Borders (Sorry Amazon). After getting it home I assumed, after briefly skimming the synopsis on the back cover, that Mechanique was going to be a steampunk novel about a travelling circus. Boy was I wrong! I guess I should have read the synopsis a bit closer. I started the book at 530pm, after I got home from work. I had assumed that it would be easy to put it down to make dinner and go to bed early since I had to be up early the next day. No. Everyone has been told by a teacher at some point in their life to never assume. This is what that teacher was taking about. I ended up ordering pizza for dinner and staying up until after midnight because I could not put this book down.
This story about a dystopian world in which magic and the mechanical seem to coexist fascinated me. At first Valentine's writing grated on my nerves. The tenses were constantly changing and every page had approximately three parenthetical statements. However after the first few chapters I realized that it seemed as if these "flaws" were intended to throw the reader for a loop, quite like a real circus. Valentine is a ringleader and this novel is her circus.
Don't make the mistake of believing this to be a steampunk novel about a circus. It's so much more. Trying to stay away from spoilers I believe I can say that Boss fixes people that are broken. She changes them into something else, something more or less than human. In a world surrounded by war she creates her own community, her own army, of misfits. Her characters become real people that I felt for.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Sarah A on May 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
Dark and tense and powerful. One of very few contemporary novels that didn't have any missteps for me. Every plot point and characterization felt inevitable and right.

The writing is gorgeous--lyrical and dramatic without being overwrought. Every so often there is a phrase that makes you feel like you've just been punched...in a good way. The characters are compelling, tough, and vividly drawn.

If you think you might like this, you probably will. But I'd also recommend this to people who aren't particularly interested in steampunk, or fantasy, or circuses, or post-apocalyptic fiction, so long as you really like elegant prose and are willing to try something different.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By The Mad Hatter VINE VOICE on June 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
In a post-apocalyptic landscape a circus wanders around the waste from small enclave of life to the next in a never ending journey to entrance audiences with their wonders and grotesqueries. They may only visit a town once in a lifetime, if you're lucky, so get in while you can. Just don't tag along unless you have a strong heart unless you don't have a problem with it being replaced with scrap metal.

Last year Paul Jessup wrote an article that served as almost a call to action on what he was hoping for out of Steampunk in the future. A Steampunk novel that wasn't just Victorian. That wasn't just all about cogs and steam. That wasn't about colonialism and white people. Well the answer to his mandate has been answered by Valentine with a very dark and melodic first novel that consists of an unforgettable story that stays with you long after you finish the last page. Mechanique will haunt your dreams.

Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti is a novel of disparities. Disparities of time, love, and of what life is and should be. Even of what life could be, but probably shouldn't be.

Life in any circus can be hard. Hard for all the traveling, setup, and performing. But the Tresaulti circus is an entirely different beast. Like none you've seen before. It is filled with moody characters desiring what someone else has even if that something is another person or a part of a person. Somehow Valentine makes a group of mostly unlikable characters into a family. A family you end up caring quite a bit about. I was surprised how much I came to care for each and every one of them. Even those I loathed and couldn't entirely comprehend.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ThatVulcanBitch on August 18, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It took me awhile to decide whether I liked this book or not. I liked the world that was created, and I liked the characters. But the style of writing was very chaotic. You had chapters with alternating POV. You had one character's in first person. You had dozens of others in 3rd, and sometimes you weren't sure who was talking. The are also more flashbacks, including short trips back in time to tell a scene from another perspective until there's nothing left to your imagination, than in all six seasons of Highlander.

But as chaotic as the pacing and style was, I still wanted to know why. I had to know what kept the circus going. I had to know about the Wings. I had to know what would happen to these characters.

About 60% of the way through, I realized that I liked this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By s.miles on July 28, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
i would actually rate this about 4.5 out of 5.

like other reviewers, i see this book's shortcomings. i agree that the digressions can be a bit much when you first start reading, and the change of voice was also distracting at times.

that said, it has been at least 2 or 3 years since i really enjoyed a book this much, since i really had that wonderful experience readers look for of getting lost in another world. i thought it was surreal, compelling, and magical. i picked it up due to the eye-catching cover, and managed to read at least a third of it in the store. every page i flipped to was worth looking at. when i got home and borrowed my mom's kindle to read it, i was impressed that my attention never wavered even through the bits i had already read. i found myself reading slowly, wanting to catch every word, as one listens to a well-told story while sitting at a fire.

what most impressed me was that so many characters are introduced, but i never felt that i got either too much or not enough information about them. as in real life, you come to know people in an organic way; you don't know everything about them, but you get a sense of them and you can speculate a bit. they were not flat nor was i bored with tons of back story.

i loved that so much of the characters' natures and their relationships to one another were revealed through their acts and their habits of movement. that is something you would expect in a beautifully made film, not in a short novel. as another reviewer pointed out, the author has done an amazing job of creating visuals for us, while her tone remains conversational, direct and spare. i found myself wondering how well it would translate into a graphic novel, for example.
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