Sunday, July 8, 2012

All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen

Take Twelfth Night and The Importance of Being Earnest, throw in steampunk, and you get the basic essence of this book.  I approached it expecting a droll comedy of manners and wasn't disappointed.  High literature, it's not, but I still enjoyed it. I suppose were one looking for something a little deeper, and not being a fan of Victoriana, it would be quite easy to feel put out. As it was, I was put out enough by having broken my toe and not being able to do my usual activities, so curling carefully up, with my foot elevated and ice applied to the injured area, this was a fine way to spend time.

In All Men of Genius we have girl masquerading as boy, to enter an exclusively male institution of higher scientific learning. Then there's the romance element: Does girl love mentor? Is mentor attracted to her as a boy? As a girl? As both? Plus all the dalliances of secondary characters, the various inventions, the hints of mysteries... It made for a fun day or so.

Were I of a more critical mind, I might have been dissatisfied with character development, but as I was looking at this as a comedy of manners, I instead delighted in discovering the usual suspects: the dandy, the fop, the fallen woman with the heart of gold, etc. And of course the mixups regarding genders and who is attracted to whom, as well as the poking of fun of the upper class.

The Author's note and Mrs Willkes oscillating device were particularly fun to stumble into. I'd originally wanted to read this in the hopes of recommending it to the granddaughters in the hopes of weaning them from sparkly vampires, but there are some pretty heated opinions about "inverts" in their home, so I may wait a little.  Interestingly, another book I'm reading now also has a female masquerading as a male, only in that case, it's as a eunuch rather than a young scientist.

This book was sent to me by Tor Books.  Many thanks for sending it.


  1. Sounds a little like Yentl. (I saw the movie.)

  2. I can see that. More farcical than Yentel, but does involve a female passing as a male to enter a world not allowed her gender.