Automatic Eve, by Rokuro Inui

Review copy provided by Haikasoru Books.

If you were ever thinking, okay, what if steampunk, but deeply Japanese, absolutely Edo period Japanese, this is the book for you. The sections unfold in sort of a spiral structure, seemingly handling disparate stories that turn out to ramify into a larger political structure for which the steampunk plot is entirely crucial.

This is a book that is obsessed with the soul, with ensoulment and the spirit and what makes us human. My workshop buddy Molly is quoted on the cover blurb comparing it to Blade Runner, and there’s a lot of that–a lot of “if it walks like a human and talks like a human, when does the soul come in,” and I have some pretty strong suspicions about where and how the word kami is used in the original that isn’t quite translating but is still interesting in translation, is still not at all a Helen O’Loy story.

But honestly my favorite part is the clockwork fighting crickets. That’s a worldbuilding detail that threads through delightfully and entirely appropriately, and I just…clockwork automata in the fighting cricket rings! If that is your jam, this is your book.

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