- Series: Langdon St. Ives
- Paperback: 277 pages
- Publisher: Titan Books; 1st Edition edition (March 12, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0857689843
- ISBN-13: 978-0857689849
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #945,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
Lord Kelvin's Machine (Langdon St. Ives) Paperback – March 12, 2013
|New from||Used from|
See the Best Books of 2018 So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year so far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
About the Author
James P. Blaylock is one of the founding fathers of modern steampunk along with fellow writers and friends Tim Powers and K.W. Jeter. He has won the World Fantasy and Philip K. Dick Awards. Blaylock lives in Orange, CA with his wife - they have two sons.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Lord Kelvin's Machine: A Tale of Langdon St. Ives is a steampunk novel that can be divided into four arcs: prologue (or the beginning), comet dangers, ship magnetism, and time travel. In the novel, our main protagonist, Langdon St. Ives, is a British professor in search of the main villain, a certain Ignacio Narbondo. St. Ives wants vengeance for the death of his wife, Alice. He is accompanied by his companions Bill Kraken, Jack Owlesby, and his trusty servant, Hasbro. Together the group chase after the "evil" Narbondo successfully ruining his schemes of cosmic extortion. Narbondo falls to an icy grave, but is kept alive by Leopold Higgins, an ichthyologist. A second scheme is hatched using Lord Kelvin's machine as a gigantic magnet to threaten British shipping. This too is foiled by St. Ives and company. The last arc finally brings in the time traveling aspect of the story. St. Ives salvages Lord Kelvin's machine for his own practical time machine. His main opponents now are the people of the Royal Academy under the leadership of Secretary Parsons who are intent on retaking the machine. St. Ives successfully completes the time machine and travels into the past to save Alice.
The story at first appears out of the order in the beginning chapters. However, the it settles back into a chronological pattern within the first part in the chapter titled "Dover." The main narrator for most of the story is Langdon St. Ives. However, both Bill Kraken and Jack Owlesby get their own chapters. Kraken is given a chapter titled "London." Owlesby narrates the entire second part of the story in first person.
Langdon St. Ives as I noted in my own headline should be renamed Langdon St. Angst for his own brooding and self deprecating personality. He blames himself for his failure to save lives, but at the same time seeks to take the high road by avoiding outright murder. Fortunately for him, the villains are more interested in murdering each other leaving his own hands clean.
James P. Blaylock returns to Victorian England in another steampunk adventure with scientist Langdon St. Ives and his nemesis, Dr. Ignacio Narbondo. Lord Kelvin’s Machine contains three related stories which each feature a fictional infernal device created by inventor Lord Kelvin. I listened to the excellent audio version which was produced by Audible Studios, is just over 8 hours long, and is narrated by Nigel Carrington.
In the prologue of Lord Kelvin’s Machine, Dr. Narbondo murders Langdon St. Ives’ beloved wife Alice which throws St. Ives into a funk. Part 1, titled “In the Days of the Comet” begins a year later. St. Ives has been depressed since Alice died and wonders if he’s bound for the madhouse like his father. Then he hears that Narbondo has hatched another devious plan which involves a comet that is coming toward Earth. Narbondo thinks he has a way to propel the entire Earth so that it will intersect the comet’s path and be destroyed. To do this, he must use a device created by Lord Kelvin which will reverse the polarity of the Earth. (Obviously this is absurd, but that’s part of what makes Blaylock’s stories so much fun.) Using some clever manipulations and some biscuit crumbs, St. Ives and his friends are able to foil Narbondo’s dastardly plot. At the end, Narbondo dies … temporarily.
The second story, “The Downed Ships,” is narrated in first person by Jack Owlesby, a friend and great admirer of St. Ives, who witnesses the explosion of a paper company’s warehouse. It seems a little too coincidental that the paper company shares a wall with the Royal Academy museum which is currently housing one of Lord Kelvin’s machines. Something is afoot and it seems to involve a rubber elephant, an ice house, an American sailor, a sadistic boy, a fruit basket, a bomb, and a carp. There’s also alchemy, vivisection, and necromancy. In the end, it turns out that Narbondo wasn’t quite as dead as had been hoped.
Jack Owlesby is a charming character with a wonderful voice, and Nigel Carrington performs him perfectly, which is why I enjoyed this section so much:
"That was it — the difference between us. He was a man with destinations; it was that which confounded me. I rarely had one, unless it was some trivial momentary destination — the pub, say … At the moment, though, both of us slipped along through the fog, and suddenly I was a conspirator again. A destination had been provided for me. I wished that Dorothy could see me, bound on this dangerous mission, slouching through the shadowy fog to save St. Ives from the most desperate criminals imaginable. I tripped over a curb and sprawled on my face in the grass of the square, but was up immediately, giving the treacherous curb a hard look and glancing around like a fool to see if anyone had been a witness to my ignominious tumble."
In the final section of the book, “The Time Traveler,” Langdon has managed to steal Lord Kelvin’s machine from the Royal Academy. He plans to use it to travel back in time to prevent his wife’s death. What follows is another madcap steampunk adventure, but this one is full of time paradoxes. I thought it was amusing in a preposterous way, but readers who hate these types of stories (I understand there are some) will probably not enjoy it as much as I did. You’ve really got to suspend disbelief for this one.
Lord Kelvin’s Machine is one of the more entertaining LANGDON ST. IVES adventures and it’s a fine place for new readers to start. I recommend the audio version because Carrington’s upper crust British accent adds to the experience.