Roc, Feb 2008, $6.99, 384 pp.
Whitechapel in Victorian London is no longer a part of Great Britain and hasn’t been since 1877 when the wall came up making it a separate entity. It is ruled by two mechanical beings Grandfather Clock and Mama Engine; both of whom have no regards for humanity. They are able to turn men, women and children into half human half machines who keep humanity and are backed up by the Boiler Men who were never human to begin with but are nevertheless thinking warlike machines:
When humanity rebelled in the Uprising, the death toll was in the thousands. Humanity post Uprising lives in squalor under the rule of Baron Hume who rules humanity. His underling John Sacred, in love with Mama Engine devises a way to kill Grandfather Clock and gives the schematics of the device to Aaron, a member of the underground. He and his two men are caught but he passes the papers to one of his men who falls, several feet unable to die. He waits for someone to get the papers and put him out of his missing and members of the resistance do but building the device and putting it ino Grandfather clock seems impossible; then there is the question of destroying Mama Engine.
Whitechapel is an inconvenient truth of a neighborhood of twisted building, polluted air that comes from the many factories of Mama Engine’s great projects. It is a surrealistic scene out of Dante’s Inferno except for the fact that most of the residents are humans. There are many heroes in this book, willing to die if it means destroying the two mechanical gods. S.M. Peters is an author whose work is so refreshingly original; the audience will be on the lookout for future societal satires from him.