Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Gideon Smith & the Mechanical Girl

This one's a bit different from my last post. This book isn't a decades-old classic that quite a lot of people know of, and know in depth. This one's relatively new, and quite different. However, as new as it is, I need to advise you of potential spoilers below, so maybe if you haven't read this one and don't care for spoilers, just give this one a pass.

Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl is a rollicking, fun steampunk adventure from author David Barnett that hit shelves last year. Multiple reviews of the book talk about how it feels like a movie, and unlike a lot of the books I read, it's short enough that there shouldn't be any trouble fitting this into a two-hour running time.

As the cover might imply, there's a ton of spectacle and high adventure. It's a mystery/adventure/quest story that involves vampires, monsters, automatons, airships, magical artifacts, you name it. It mixes actual history (it's set in Victorian Britain) with the fantasy/horrors of that day. Bram Stoker might actually exist, but so might his creation, Count Dracula, and other vampires. And I prefer not to say much more about this.

Anyway, our hero is a young, earnest fisherman from a village called Sandsend. His father's disappearance (and rumored death) start the plot, as young Gideon is certain that foul play is behind the situation and does what any loving son would do; attempts to contact the hero of the penny dreadful stories he enjoys reading: the dashing Capt. Lucien Trigger. Gideon, who's about 25 or so, is described as being muscular and broad shouldered, but to me, what came across far more in the writing was his earnestness, vulnerability and wide-eyed wonder. I kept trying to picture him as a strapping, muscular lad, but the image of Andrew Garfield wouldn't leave my mind. Despite that, having reviewed the choice, I think Aaron Taylor-Johnson would fit much better. Kick-Ass showed that he has the same vulnerability but is a much more impressive physical specimen.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Along the way, Gideon meets an Irish writer who refuses to believe in the first. His name is Bram Stoker. Michael Fassbender, like Stoker, is Irish, a ginger, and looks like he could pass for the historical Stoker.
Michael Fassbender
Bram Stoker

Stoker's take on the supernatural changes dramatically when he meets - not Dracula, but Dracula's widow, the Blood Countess, Elizabeth Bathory. I'm less worried about historical accuracy when casting Bathory, because we really have no idea what she looked like, only paintings, which may or may not be accurate. All we need is a beautiful woman who also looks dangerous. Eva Green, anyone?
Eva Green

After getting separated from Stoker, Gideon's adventure takes him to Einstein's house. Well, not Albert. Albert's grandfather. Among the wonders there is a beautiful automaton (the titular mechanical girl) who looks almost perfectly like a young lady, who begs Gideon to take her with him. He agrees. She looks very young, innocent and blonde. Kinda like Sophie Turner.
Sophie Turner
After meeting back up in London, Gideon meets a foul-mouthed, decidedly hygiene-lacking fat reporter with a sharp mind. Aloyisius Bent is absolutely the comic relief here, but he's also that rare bird; comic relief that is actually useful. He comes along on their adventure, sensing a big story. And Nick Frost would play him to perfection.
Nick Frost
Bent leads them to Capt. Trigger, who, alas, is nothing like Gideon expected. He's actually a weak, frail, aging man whose one real talent is writing, and he has actually been chronicling the adventures of his friend (and lover) Dr. John Reed, who remains safely anonymous since everyone thinks the adventures belong to Trigger. He's not all that frail looking, but the image of Kenneth Branagh clung in my mind as I read about the aging, cowardly, closeted man.
Kenneth Branagh
It turns out that John Reed is missing, too. Trigger reluctantly decides to join the quest, hoping to find his lover. To facilitate the journey, they hire the Mistress of the Airways, Aerostat captain Rowena Fanshawe. She reminded me of Natalia Tena.
Natalia Tena

They run afoul of a notorious American pirate names Louis Cockayne, who's almost as much a figure of legend as Trigger and Fanshawe. I know that it sounds like type-casting, but every description of him given in the text made me think of Adam Rothenberg. So, I can't help it, he's my Louis.
Adam Rothenberg

 They need to go to Alexandria, it turns out, and hire local sub captain Mr. Okoth. Who better to play a large, intimidating, but ultimately jolly African man? Adewale Akkinuoye-Agbage, of course!
Adewale Akkinuoye-Agbage
They make it to Africa, and they do indeed find Dr. Reed. But is he friend or foe? Iain Glen looks like the middle-aged, strong, bearded man that Reed is.
Iain Glen
Ah, but who is the mysterious Walsingham, who appears to be the one who has been behind most if not all of the trouble? Walsingham is tall, elderly, thin, and has a sharp nose. Sounds like Charles Dance to me.
Charles Dance
Also, it's a minor role, but Varney the Vampire shows up. I couldn't resist casting everyone's favorite emaciated, reanimated corpse, Julian Richings.
Julian Richings


  1. This is utter genius! Thank you so much!

    1. Wow, I'm glad you liked them! It's not every day the author you're casting the work of comments on it! Thanks for taking the time to have a look and once again, I'm glad you like it!