The Chess Machine
Vienna 1770: Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen unveils a strange and amazing invention, the Mechanical Turk, a sensational and unbeatable chess-playing automaton. But what the Habsburg court hails as the greatest innovation of the cen...more
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Except that instead of d ...more
Don’t expect a traditional novel arc with The Chess Machine, as the book simply does not begin with the “usual” character introductions. This will reject some readers due to the novel’s somewhat fl ...more
As regular readers know, one of the topics that often comes up here at the CCLaP website is of the slippery line between what we commonly refer to as "mainstream" literature versus "genre;" of not only where that line should be drawn, but of how we look at books differently based on what side it falls, not to mention the different smaller lines that can be drawn once you're on one si ...more
I think that this novel falls into the trap that many books in the "historical fiction" fall into regardless of the subject. The fictional characters, or the events/dialogue created around the historical characters, are just not nearly as interesting as the actual events.
This was Löhr's debut novel and it shows. He didn't get the pacing right, nor was he able to give his characters any depth. The story revolves around a mechanical chess machine. The first machine able to think and play chess - or that's ...more
Kempelen was popular wi ...more
It's the 18th century and our main characters are a chess-playing dwarf, an amoral,amorous nobleman/inventor,a pregnant,disgraced Courtesan , a ribald Jewish clockmaker, and the Empress Marie Theresa herself: so what's not to like? Tibor, the small person , is the most intriguing dwarf since "The Tin Drum", altho in a completely benign,sympathetic way. He's a devout Catholic, a veteran of the 30 years war and a perfect pawn for the unscrupulous Baron and his invention the Turk automaton, a ma ...more
I very much enjoyed the historical setting of the book, which travelled from Venice to Slovakia via Prussia and Austria. The plot is quite pacey and while it does culminate in a bit of a far-fetched blood-spilling climax, I could imagine this book making a good historical action movie, with all its soldiers and generals, roy ...more