Devil’s Engine

The weird western series continuous with a look at the sequel to Devil’s Tower.

Raw Feed (1997): Devil’s Engine, Mark Sumner, 1997.Devil's Engine

I didn’t like this novel as well as Devil’s Tower.
For one thing, the ending is a little too coy, but I gather Dr. Stone is Malcolm mysteriously healed by the time-hopping Boots who,  it seems, will marry Muley Owens. It also seems as the Rainmaker (with the interesting curse/talent of a thunderstorm that follows him about) dies.
The story was suspenseful enough, and I like the comparison between William Cody and his dime-novel persona, Buffalo Bill Cody. Still, there is little to this story beyond some fights and chases. The sailing stagecoach of Owens and the Rainmaker – son of the famous arms-manufacturing Spencer family – was a nifty, if improbable image, and the chase of the train was good.
The coming of the transcontinental railroad that sucks up the magical energy of the talented and pools it for lethal work is not much more than a device to justify the plot. What it will mean for the West of this novel is not really explored. Sumner mentions economic prosperity. Possibly, but what about the balance of political power? Will the concentration of magical energy produce – as is implied – concentrations of political power? Will the inhabitants of the West necessarily object to the subjugation of the talented? Cody does but is he typical? Part of the anarchy that reigns in the West seems to spring from “talents”.

An ok book but no real development over the ideas put forth in the better Devil’s Tower.  And, again, this novel – part of which takes place around Rapid City – gives no real sense of landscape.
More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.
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