Frances's Reviews > The Technologists

The Technologists by Matthew Pearl
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's review
Jun 09, 2012

really liked it
Read from June 08 to 09, 2012

The Technologists is a science mystery set in 19th century Boston. It centres around students at the newly formed MIT who undertake to find the perpetrator of a series of disasters which someone has unleashed on Boston. The students, including one charity scholar and the sole female student (who has been accepted but who must study on her own in a separate laboratory) must deal with the public's distrust of the Science Institute and of science in general, as well as derision from the classical scholars of neighbouring Harvard who disapprove of the "Techies". It is a sort of historical science fiction with much description of the new technology and science which is only being discovered and put into use at the time.

I enjoyed the variety of characters-the Boston blue blood who chooses the new Technology school over Harvard, the ex-soldier machinist who obtains a charity scholarship, the young women who yearn to take a place in the world of science-and the descriptions of the new technologies just coming into use. This was a tremendously well-researched novel which gave a wonderful description of the time of great social and scientific change and of the public ambivalence about these new technologies. The mysteries themselves were well-plotted and, if somewhat farfetched, were not too big a stretch for science-fiction or mystery lovers. This novel would appeal to lovers of historical mysteries, science fiction or even steampunk, as well as those who enjoy a little socialist/feminist history.

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