Synopses & Reviews
In All Those Vanished Engines,
Paul Park returns to science fiction after a decade spent on the impressive four-volume A Princess of Roumania
fantasy, with an extraordinary, intense, compressed SF novel in three parts, each set in its own alternate-history universe. The sections are all rooted in Virginia and the Battle of the Crater, and are also grounded in the real history of the Park family, from differing points of view. They are all gorgeously imaginative and carefully constructed, and reverberate richly with one another.
The first section is set in the aftermath of the Civil War, in a world in which the Queen of the North has negotiated a two-nation settlement. The second, taking place in northwestern Massachusetts, investigates a secret project during World War II, in a time somewhat like the present. The third is set in the near-future United States, with aliens from history.
The cumulative effect is awesome. There hasnt been a three part novel this ambitious in science fiction since Gene Wolfes classic The Fifth Head of Cerberus.
"Park takes readers on a challenging and multilayered tour of an alternate history America including alternate Park family history that will resonate with fans of his Princess of Roumania fantasy series. In the aftermath of the civil war, young Paulina is a pawn in the settlement that ends 'the woah' with the North by creating two separate nations. Paulina's alter ego is Matthew, a character she's created to tell a story set in a fantastical future she longs to see, complete with aliens and steam-powered airships. Meanwhile, a 21st-century author uses bits of family history and a Civil War era character named Paulina to fuel his own fantasy novels. The story simultaneously stretches forward and backward in time, revealing dense layers with even more mysteries to be explored, from extraterrestrial intervention in the Civil War to the shifting truths behind family history and the nature of storytelling itself. Park handles multiple viewpoints, time lines, and story lines masterfully in this dense, philosophically provocative story. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
PAUL PARK is the author of A Princess of Roumania, and numerous other novels. He published his first novel in the 1980s and swiftly attracted notice as one of the finest authors on the "humanist" wing of American SF. His powerful, densely written narratives of religious and existential crisis on worlds at once exotic and familiar won him comparisons with Gene Wolfe and Brian Aldiss at their best. He lives in North Adams, Massachusetts.