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Tinker (Elfhome #1)

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,804 Ratings  ·  264 Reviews
Inventor, girl genius Tinker lives in a near-future Pittsburgh which now exists mostly in the land of the elves. She runs her salvage business, pays her taxes, and tries to keep the local ambient level of magic down with gadgets of her own design.

When a pack of wargs chase an Elven noble into her scrap yard, life as she knows it takes a serious detour. Tinker finds hersel
Hardcover, 1st Edition, 340 pages
Published November 4th 2003 by Baen Books (first published October 1st 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Barbara Gordon
Jun 11, 2012 Barbara Gordon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Notes on the first half:
I'm having problems with this, mostly related to my reading as a writer. I like the character Tinker okay, but she is one heck of a Mary Sue. She's a genius, she's cute, everyone loves her except the elf-woman who's jealous, she wins fights despite (as we are frequently told) she's just a little thing, she's related to the most important people you can think of in that world, and I'm getting the strong feeling she has a Destiny. The narrative is thick with info-dumps, jus
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
This was a relatively quick read for a non-romance (since they are my favorite I usually zip through them). I guess I finished it in about 10 days but I also read a few books at the same time. I guess romantic books get read quicker because of the pull of the romantic relationship. Having said that, maybe that is why I finished this quickly. Tinker is a great heroine, smart, likeable, human, and interesting. The world is an interesting one: Pittsburgh with a twist. In this book, Pittsburgh goes ...more
This book had a lot that I liked a great deal, but more that didn't work for me, and some stuff that made me outright uncomfortable.

The basic set up is that the various mythologies of earth are a reflection of alternate universes. So elves are the inhabitants of one alternate universe, and other alternate universes contain creatures that also form the basis of other stories of earth. Earth found out about this by building a dimensional gate that as a side-effect takes part of a city into the alt
Sci-Fi/fantasy. Due to unexpected consequences of building a transdimensional gate in orbit over Earth, our Pittsburgh spends all but one day of each month on Elfhome. Our intrepid heroin runs a junkyard, builds things, and tangles with elves and other interdimensional troubles. Good God, this is vile. The pseudoscientific set-up is actually sort of interesting, and there was potential in the interdimensional relations aspects of having a piece of the United States on foreign soil, but these thi ...more
This one's fun. A nice take on the cross-world SF/Fantasy hybrid with good politicking on both sides of the divide and some fabulous surprises along the way.

In particular, I like the way the main character's specialness is worked into the plot without breaking suspension of disbelief and the way her flaws and youth are handled.

Basic setup: the Chinese government steals some not-quite-done research on making a star drive and builds it, not-quite-understanding how it works. The result is a proba
I loved this book, and the whole series (so far, looking forward to more). Wen seems to come up with very unique story lines. I love all of her books. 7/1/16 Re-read: So enjoyable, every time I re-read it.
Mar 28, 2014 Mara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 1/2
A strange experience. I had read other people's reviews, both negative and positive, before buying this novel. And while reading it, I kept nodding my assent with all of them. There's no doubt in my mind both side are right. Yes, this book is lily white, the heroine is a bit of a Mary Sue, etc. etc. But none of it was enough to mar the book for me. (The heroine's MarySueness didn't have that much impact, the enemy was based on Japanese's tradition, but I didn't feel it was based on race. B
So, I Read This Book Today
I have to say, when I saw this book listed, I forget where, I thought it might not be all that much, but it was at hand, so I picked it up. Oh. My. God. I could not have been more wrong, or more happy to be so.

"Tinker", and the follow-up, "Wolf Who Rules" are extraordinary. The concept of science as the foundation of magic is one I have always wished someone would write about - and Spencer does it in a believable, extremely well developed, and well written manner. I picked up the book for an 'ea
Genevieve Pearson
Jan 07, 2012 Genevieve Pearson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm of two minds about Tinker. On the one hand, the concept and story are so unique, and fun, it made this book a page-turner. It's well thought out, and the world-building is amazing. As a result, I find myself picking this book up again and again. Tinker as a heroine is also a great character--unique both in personality and physical attributes, a brainy but petite offspring of a brilliant scientist who chooses to work in a junk yard with her brother.

There are two reasons I deducted a star (so
Lisa Emme
Jul 10, 2016 Lisa Emme rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Just did a re-read on this after reading Wood Sprites. It continues to be one of my favourite books.
Mar 08, 2015 Alex rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I forced myself through this book because a friend's mom was kind enough to get me the series, but boy howdy, I did not enjoy it. The race and gender politics are beyond problematic, and there's a bucketful of consent issues made worse by the fact that Tinker responds to them all with vague anger/confusion followed by a noncommittal shrug. There's a lot of rape-y bodice ripping topped off by an actual public rape. Incredibly high squick factor with virtually no commentary.

All of that would be e
MB (What she read)
Interesting in spite of the main character being a Mary Sue and her love interest being what some would consider 'every woman's elf fantasy'. (Not mine, btw.) This novel would have benefitted from better world-building and setting the scene in the first several chapters as I was still confused by the middle of the book.

The villain was too evil for words, there is some pretty obvious racism in the 'evil' characters, and several parts were just too disturbingly weird for me. This book kept my atte
Mar 11, 2014 Nicole rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There be spoilers ahead. You have been warned.

I'd heard some good things about this book, so I decided to give it a try. I also knew the author was a fan of manga (and therefore presumably Japanese culture) beforehand. Cool. I adore manga too.

Thing is, the concept is interesting. The whole piece-of-earth-in-foreign-realm idea got me absorbed in the first chapter. Trying to make sense of all the new terminology, figuring out the history, politics (especially the inter-species ones) was all great.
Olga Godim
Sep 21, 2012 Olga Godim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
I first read this book when it came out in 2003 and I loved it. Now, after I read the third book in the Tinker series – Elfhome – I decided to reread this one, the book that started Tinker’s adventures. And I loved it again, much more than the book #3.
Tinker is a charming girl, unaware of her allure but full of spunk and wit. A genius in all things mechanical, she is first and foremost a compassionate human being, prone to helping everyone who comes into her sphere. When her lover, the glorious
Janice (Janicu)
Aug 23, 2008 Janice (Janicu) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great combination of sci-fi and fantasy. Wen (short for Wendy) Spencer explains elves and other mythical creatures in a very original manner: they are from a different dimension. In "Tinker", an interdimensional gate transports the whole city of Pittsburg to Earth once a month for supplies (a day called Shutdown), while the rest of the time it is in Elfland. Unfortunately the designer of this gate is long dead and no one else really understands how it works. Tinker is a girl genius raised in Pit ...more
Nov 25, 2010 Jess rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: heroine-pov, fantasy
Tinker was an absolute delightful melding of science fiction and fantasy. Within the first few pages I found myself immediately drawn into the world, and loving every second of it.

A quarter way through the book I realized what was so entrancing about the story, it seriously reminded me of reading a manga (japanese style comic). There is a type of genre of manga that melds high fantasy with sci/fi which I have never before seen actually expressed in just writing, and I must say I was damn well i
Shannon C.
May 01, 2014 Shannon C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: urban fantasy fans, paranormal romance fans
I just did a re-read of this series and I enjoyed it the second time around even better than the first. I think this would appeal to urban fantasy fans. It is set in an alternate Pittsburgh. The characters and world are well-crafted. I like the mix of adventure, action, mystery and romance. I particularly like that the lead gal Tinker is super smart, quirky, loyal and honorable. She is not your run-of-the-mill urban fantasy heroine. I also really like the supporting cast, like Oilcan, Pony and W ...more
Jun 03, 2015 Jackie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I believe a commenter on my RNFF blog suggested reading the Elfhome series for SF with a strong female protagonist and a healthy dollop of romance. Can't say that I'm all that impressed. Tinker as a character is pretty interesting, with her super-intelligence, her unusual ancestry & birth circumstances, and her desire to explore her sexual self. And the idea of different dimensions/worlds connected by gates, with one piece from one world inconveniently traveling back and forth between the tw ...more
This was an okay book. I can't rate it higher because some of the stereotypes annoyed me.

(view spoiler)
Jul 21, 2014 Dee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Still 5 stars more than a decade later!

I remember when I first saw this book on the "New Release" shelves in Forbidden Planet. It was clearly a Baen hardback - look at the cover art! A bit of an odd title but I already knew Baen were GOD so of course I read the blurb....and bought the incredibly expensive US import! (Back then the hardback imports were generally about 4-6 more than homegrown editions).

So freaking worth it! Of course the fact that I then proceeded to wait...and wait....and wait..
Wow - what a great book! This book is a mash-up of contemporary/urban fantasy, traditional fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal romance. The protagonist is just barely 18 years old, so at first I worried that this book would be young adult literature, but it wasn't.

Tinker is the 18 year old scientific genius of a heroine, and her father was the one who created a portal machine that allows a chunk of earth (Pittsburg) to travel through dimensions and trade places with a chunk of the Elf worl
Oct 05, 2013 Hopper rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 02, 2013 Kara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This steampunk fantasy book contained BREATHTAKING world building. I'm trying to think of a book that has done it better in the last 30 years. The City & The City maybe? But that was in such a completely different genre. I don't want to give anything away, but let me just say you can't go wrong with Pittsburgh stuck in another dimension and elves and tengu. Yes, tengu! I was thrilled with that.

The book was crazily fast-paced. I read it in a single sitting (unfortunately for me, I started it
This book is about a girl whose grandfather creates her from her dead father's frozen sperm, and then names her "Alexander Graham Bell." Amazingly enough, it is not about her quest to track him down and exact revenge, or about her traumatic youth; she considers her childhood to have been excellent, and only goes by 'Tinker' because she follows the elven custom of not giving away her name lightly (and because, really, she's a Tinker.)

The world of Tinker (both the book, and the girl, now that I th
Jan 31, 2016 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun book, as long as I didn't focus too hard on the logistics of Pittsburgh in Elfhome then out then back in via the orbital gate which got a little bit confusing. Just when I thought I had it comfortably figured out someone would do or say something to cause me to realize that I didn't actually. It made me feel somewhat thick headed until I decided it didn't really matter so much and I focused again on the fun parts of the story.

Mostly enjoyed it, except for a few scenes, one of which was an at
Jun 20, 2016 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tinker and the rest of this series by Wen Spencer have some of the worst fantasy covers I have ever seen. (Seriously! Look at the cover of Wood Sprites!) I stumbled across Tinker when I was weeding the fiction collection at my library. I thought the blurb sounded ridiculous and the cover was terrible. But then I saw how high Tinker’s Goodreads rating was and I was intrigued. I decided I needed to read it for myself.

This book is a delightful mix of high and urban fantasy. Elves right out of Tolki
"Tinker" presents a different perspective on some mythical beings that have appeared in human culture - Elves, Oni, Kitsune, etc. - as well as magic, with some science fiction woven in as well. There's a great deal of potential here, and there are definitely characters to love. The overall storyline is solid, and you learn quite a bit about the rules of magic and science in Tinker's world, without being given everything.

There's romance, sex, treachery, loyalty, and bravery, whilst there is also
Jun 14, 2012 Julia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I was pondering this book when my friend Tempest ran up and said "don't buy that! It's full of white people." I am sad I ignored her advice. It's boring. It's derivative. It's lily white. I made it four chapters in before I was too bored to handle it.
Jan 11, 2011 Ithlilian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Lets get the things I didn't enjoy out of the way. First, Tinker, our main character, is only 18. Being 18 she isn't very mature or level headed, she is more concerned about getting a boyfriend than understanding the consequences of her actions. I realize now that I should have read the jacket of this book a little more carefully. A genius girl that can build just about anything gets into some trouble and has to kick some butt, but the most important thing is getting a boyfriend. I glanced over ...more
Kari Chapman
This book started out strongly. Set slightly into our future, there is now a gate that allows humans into an alternate universe - this one with elves in it. However, the gate just switches out land in our world for land in the other world. In the case of our world, the gate covers most of Pittsburgh. For most of the month, Pittsburgh resides in Elfhome. One day a month it's returned to Earth for supplies and allowing people to leave or enter.

The story follows Tinker, an 18-year-old genius who's
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John W. Campbell Award Winner Wen Spencer resides in paradise in Hilo, Hawaii with two volcanoes overlooking her home. Spencer says that she often wakes up and exclaims "Oh my god, I live on an island in the middle of the Pacific!" This, says Spencer, is a far cry from her twenty years of living in land-locked Pittsburgh.

According to Spencer, she lives with "my Dali Llama-like husband, my autistic
More about Wen Spencer...

Other Books in the Series

Elfhome (5 books)
  • Wolf Who Rules (Elfhome, #2)
  • Elfhome (Elfhome, #3)
  • Wood Sprites (Elfhome, #4)
  • Harbinger (Elfhome #5)

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