Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Book & Audio Review: Tinker by Wen Spencer


Wen Spencer
Narrator: Tanya Eby
Series: Elfhome Book 1
Publication: Baen Books; 1st edition (October 1, 2003);  Audible Studios (December 12, 2014)
Length: 609 p.; 13 hours and 32 minutes

Description: Move over, Buffy! Tinker not only kicks supernatural butt - she's a techie genius, too!

Inventor, girl genius Tinker lives in a near-future Pittsburgh which now exists mostly in the land of the elves. She runs her salvage business, pays her taxes, and tries to keep the local ambient level of magic down with gadgets of her own design. When a pack of wargs chase an Elven noble into her scrap yard, life as she knows it takes a serious detour. Tinker finds herself taking on the Elven court, the NSA, the Elven Interdimensional Agency, technology smugglers and a college-minded Xenobiologist as she tries to stay focused on what's really important: her first date. Armed with an intelligence the size of a planet, steel toed boots, and a junk yard dog attitude, Tinker is ready to kick butt to get her first kiss.

My Thoughts: This science fiction/urban fantasy story takes place in the near future. A future where a interdimensional gate has been invented to let people travel to distant planets. There is a side effect, though. Pittsburgh - or a big part of it - finds itself shifted to Elfhome every time the gate is turned on and returned to Earth when it is off. 

Tinker is about eighteen and has spent her whole life in Pittsburgh both while it is on Earth and when it is one Elfhome. She's never actually visited any other places on Earth and isn't really interested. She a technical genius who own her own scrapyard. She was raised and educated by her grandfather who kept her a secret. After his death, she has her cousin Oilcan and friends including half-Elf Tooloo and Xenobiologist Lain who have been her mentors and teachers.

When wargs chase an Elf lord into her scrapyard and she saves his life, her life takes a totally new turn. It was already starting to shift because Lain convinced her to take the entrance exams for Carnegie Mellon which put her on the radar of the NSA because her answers indicated that she might be able to build another gate. It also put her on the radar of the Oni from still another world who want her to build them a gate so that they can conquer or expand to Earth and Elfhome. 

The elf she rescued was Windwolf who happens to be the Viceroy of the part of Elfhome where Pittsburg appears. Cultural misunderstandings on both their parts finds them married and finds Tinker changed into an elf herself.

Then she's kidnapped by the Oni and forced to build them a new gate because they have threatened everyone she loves if she does not. But Tinker is a genius and her plans include foiling their plans and saving herself and those she loves.

This story had great characters and intriguing worldbuilding. I liked Tinker. I liked that she was torn between Earth and Elfhome. I liked the elf magic and the way Tinker dealt with it even though her own focus was on physics. 

This is the first of a five book series which was published between 2003 and 2016, It looks like a sixth book is scheduled for publication in 2022. I've read the story before. I've had a paperback since at least 2008, the Kindle since 2014, and just got the audiobook. I liked the way Tanya Eby brought the characters to life in the audiobook.

Favorite Quote:
She considered, eyes closed, hands clasped. What was it she wanted? In earlier years she had prayed for things as simple as winning something from one of the booths. Searching her heart, she found only conflicting desires. Finally she prayed simply: May I figure out what it is I want in life.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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