The People’s Machine by Tobias S. Buckwell

The Mammoth Book of Steampunk

Title: The People’s Machine
Author: Tobias S. Buckell
In: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Steampunk
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: Three more dockworkers stepped forward, surrounding them.

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Ixtil is travelling to Europe to find out if the ritual killers are one of his own people. What he uncovers is a conspiracy far more powerful than he expected…


This is the second steampunk story I’ve read in a while that features aspects of Mayan mythology throughout the storyline. And it works weirdly, and beautifully well. Actually, incredibly surprisingly. I’m used to Victorian London, Europe and even Northern America featured in steampunk stories. It’s very different and beautiful to have such vividly descriptive worlds combining and crashing together.

There’s a sense of constant questioning throughout this short story. Initially, a murder causes the lead to question whether or not there are zealots running amok in Europe. But, as the story progresses, new questions arise. Primarily in the form of who governs who, and why should we obey? Whether it is a government or a computer, there are multiple forms of control throughout the tale, but the constant question as to whether or not truth should really govern all.

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Image source: Amazon

3 thoughts on “The People’s Machine by Tobias S. Buckwell

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