D. B.'s Reviews > Tinker

Tinker by Wen Spencer
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's review
Aug 12, 2008

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bookshelves: fiction-scifi-fantasy-horror
Read in January, 2007

Mashing two kindred yet disparate genres together (sci-fi and fantasy) is always a crapshoot, but Wen Spencer manages to wed the two passably by putting her titular character into a unique bind and infusing the whole mess with smart-ass intelligence and humor.

In the near future, a hyperphase gate experiment goes south and transects the city of Pittsburgh (Spencer's hometown, BTW) with an equivalently-sized chunk on the planet Elfhome. Every thirty days, Pittsburgh flips over to Earth for 24 hours, then jumps back to Elfhome. During the most recent of these "Shutdowns," tomboy greasemonkey Tinker rescues elf lord Windwolf from being killed by a pack of oni, the elves' interdimensional enemies. Windwolf repays Tinker by changing her into an immortal elf like himself, much to her consternation.

If Errol Flynn was a woman and used a wrench instead of a sword and was written towards a Young Adult audience, you might come close to Tinker's delivery. If the Elves were called anything else but Elves, it might even stand apart from other stories that attempt to fuse the high-tech of sci-fi with the mysticism of fantasy. What makes Spencer's style unique is how she takes a fantasy element like magic and breaks it down into scientific principles. The tech in Tinker's world is such that you can build a device to absorb excess magical energy, or duplicate magical glyphs onto transference paper for later use. Tinker is a good example of the kind of book that needs to happen more often in order for these genre hybrids to be less contrived.

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