*I received a free copy of this story, with thanks to Eleana Tyradelli and the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Professor Incabad Reyl is the greatest scientist of his time.
In 104 H.S., 30 years after his groundbreaking discovery on echomagnetic fractions, he sets off on an adventurous search, in order to uncover the laws that govern the dynamics between the twelve electrons of his fractional echomagnetic dynamics theory.
With a few white lies about the details of his expedition, he gains funding from the Academy and the blessings of Accadia’s Empyrian Citadel, along with an airship and a companion, the oracle Lieutenant Auburn Thorn.
Together, Reyl and Thorn embark on a journey through the Horizon, to the distant trove Tarn, where deep in the unexplored jungle Reyl hopes to uncover the mysteries of Horizon’s past. On the way to find what he calls the Master Equation, Professor Reyl will stumble upon hidden truths that will change the way humanity perceives existence.
Elmwean’s Lodge is a sci-fi / fantasy novelette, set in an alternate universe with a teslapunk feel.
The story itself is a straightforward narrative of seeking enlightenment in dangerous places with some perils anticipated and others coming from unexpected avenues. There is a mixture of the scientific and the religio-philosophical in Reyl and Thorn’s quest for answers to the human condition (although human is a relative term in the context of this story!).
The narrative is framed as a transcript of Reyl’s dictation of a memoir of the adventure and this works really neatly to keep the mystery of both Thorn and the information recovered limited to what Reyl perceives and believes. I found his admiration, to the point of hero-worship, of Thorn particularly endearing and enjoyed the touch of very human resentment that tinged it.
I did find the narrative very dense with worldbuilding information; perhaps weighted a little heavily for such a short story format. The mass of Storms, Shards, Mantles, Cradles, Scribers, Troves and so on was a little bewildering and I felt the author struggled somewhat with introducing such a richly imagined world effectively without overloading the reader with explanations. As a result, the final 25% of the document on my e-book reader was taken up with a detailed glossary of terms and references. Highly useful, but I felt it would have been more so had it preceded the story, to save constantly referencing it as I read.
I would be very interested to read more from the universe here, as this short glimpse intrigued me, with its very different ‘breeds’ or humans in their unique troves (or Cradles). A full length novel, trilogy or longer series is really required to fully do justice to the fascinating world Tasoulas has brought to life here.
I proposed, with some fabrications I must admit, that there must be another equation hidden behind my first discovery, a reliable algorithm of constants, influenced not only by the echomagnetic fields that our scientific instruments can detect, but by the fine aether that governs the powers of the oracles as well. Aether is a form of echomagnetism after all, isn’t it? Only more elegant, more… elusive. Such an algorithm, a Master Equation, would save humanity from entering a vicious circle of re-engineering everything every thirty years or so. And I requested for a mission to be funded, a search through the Horizon, led by me, to find echomagnetic and aetheric clues that would lead to these constants.
– Gregory Tasoulas, Elmwean’s Lodge
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