Who doesn’t enjoy a good Frankenstein-themed story? No really. Without giving too much of the story away let me just say that there is a mad scientist with a conscience…after the fact, an evil and cunning enemy, a somewhat interesting sideline heroine/love interest, and a machine that in some ways is more human than some actual humans. Add a dash of action packed scenes and a setting that crosses several multiverses and you have a very interesting read, I must say. That’s the backdrop for Patchwerk by David Tallerman.
Dran Florrian is the main character and we first meet him as he is observing a young man across from him on the train…a young man with deep black skin and pink gills. Okay, I thought as I read this. This is going to be one of those science fiction stories that plays with elements of the fantastic and pushes the boundaries of what it means to be human by having some great creatures. I was kind of wrong. That opening line is a little misleading, considering the way the rest of the story goes. There are actually glimpses of creatures but it’s so minimal and it doesn’t add to the overall story that I think it could have been left out. There are also some hints about interesting weapons that merge with human biology but again, it’s not as developed as it could have been. So, as a reader, I am kind of left hanging.
The true enjoyment from this novella is the glimpse the reader gets into the mind of a mad scientist. “Patchwerk” does a good job of letting us see the normal, neurotic, self depreciating things that a genius thinks. From kicking himself for not loving his wife better, to questioning his own judgment in creating Palimpsest (the actual Frankenstein “monster”), to insulting his own lack of seeing far enough ahead to not fall into the evil antagonist’s trap. Florrian asks himself some interesting questions and it’s intriguing to watch his mind work. He is actually quite normal.
My biggest critique of “Patchwerk” is the lack of cohesion between character flashes. I often found myself needing to go back and say “Wait, what just happened? Whose viewpoint am I looking at?” That’s a critical part of the story, the character flashes, but we don’t get an explanation of what’s going on until almost the end of the story. When the explanation finally happens, the earlier portions of the book make a lot more sense. Once I understood the tie in of character flashes with the direction of the story I was able to invest more in the book. Unfortunately, it just happened so late in the story.
There are some interesting ‘gems’ of commentary throughout the book, lines that made me think. For example, Dran makes note that “they made him a spy- because, they said, it was impossible these days to be a great scientist and not be a great spy also. Because if he worked for them, (and what choice was there but to work for them?) then by default he knew too much. They would protect what was in his head by any means necessary. If he was to be a scientist, then he must be a weapon too, and he must be their weapon.” Talk about saying telling the truth and shaming the devil. Scientists are weapons, and not by their own choice but by the companies that make them choose between their ‘art’ and ‘making a living’. But I will just leave that right there.
Overall, “Patchwerk” had some flaws that made it difficult to read but I would certainly read another book by this author and I would certainly recommend this book to my friends with minimal warnings.
I recently came across a definition of cosmopolitan that I have decided to adopt. The term cosmopolitan used to denote “citizen of the cosmos”. At first, it seems very pretentious but after thinking it through I realized that this is exactly what I aspire to be… a citizen that belongs in every place in this universe. So that’s the exciting description. The more mundane answer is that I am an attorney, amateur historian, mother of two. I love information and I hate the way it gets twisted so I made a blog to infect the world and spread cosmopolitan thinking: http://www.livelearn2015.wordpress.com and I stay on twitter @JonesLightsyEsq