The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer
(Playaway Adult Fiction)

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A debut so magical… so extraordinary… it has to be read to be believed….

Imprisoned for life aboard a zeppelin that floats high above a fantastic metropolis, the greeting-card writer Harold Winslow pens his memoirs. His only companions are the disembodied voice of Miranda Taligent, the only woman he has ever loved, and the cryogenically frozen body of her father Prospero, the genius and industrial magnate who drove her insane.

The tale of Harold’s life is also one of an alternate reality, a lucid waking dream in which the well-heeled have mechanical men for servants, where the realms of fairy tales can be built from scratch, where replicas of deserted islands exist within skyscrapers.. As Harold’s childhood infatuation with Miranda changes over twenty years to love and then to obsession, the visionary inventions of her father also change Harold’s entire world, transforming it from a place of music and miracles to one of machines and noise. And as Harold heads toward a last desperate confrontation with Prospero to save Miranda’s life, he finds himself an unwitting participant in the creation of the greatest invention of them all: the perpetual motion machine.

Beautifully written, stunningly imagined, and wickedly funny, The Dream of Perpetual Motion is a heartfelt meditation on the place of love in a world dominated by technology.


About Dexter Palmer

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DEXTER PALMER lives in Princeton, New Jersey. He holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from Princeton University, where he completed his dissertation on the work of James Joyce, William Gaddis, and Thomas Pynchon (and where he also staged the first academic conference ever held at an Ivy League university on the subject of video games).
Published February 27, 2010 by St. Martin's Press. 351 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Dream of Perpetual Motion

Kirkus Reviews

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Harold wants to become a writer, and in fact becomes a writer of greeting-card verse, but the rest of the novel recounts the unlikely fashion through which he fulfills his higher ambition.

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The New York Times

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Two ghosts of a sort are stuck there with him: the cryogenically frozen corpse of a once powerful inventor, Prospero Taligent, and the mysterious, disembodied voice of Prospero’s adopted daughter, Miranda, haunting Winslow over the intercom.

May 14 2010 | Read Full Review of The Dream of Perpetual Motion...

Publishers Weekly

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In a steampunky alternate reality, genius inventor Prospero Taligent promises the 100 kids he's invited to his daughter Miranda's birthday party that they will have their “heart's desires fulfilled.” When young Harold Winslow says he wants to be a storyteller, he sets in motion an astonishing plo...

Oct 19 2009 | Read Full Review of The Dream of Perpetual Motion...


Well, tonight as my clock steadily carried me from December 23rd into the magic of Christmas Eve, I chose to take a break from my mission to read as many classic novels as humanly possible, in order to enjoy the company of a book that has been on my shelf for the past two months: The Dream of Per...

Dec 24 2012 | Read Full Review of The Dream of Perpetual Motion...

New York Journal of Books

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It is an interesting synergy and a bold piece of writing (very good writing, too, by the way) for a debut novel, but this reviewer wonders if any of the potential audiences for literature, fantasy, or adventure stories will be wholly satisfied with it.

Mar 02 2010 | Read Full Review of The Dream of Perpetual Motion...

Book Reporter

Winslow and Miranda meet, awkwardly, and are reunited when Prospero decrees Winslow leave his school --- run by embittered teachers and aloof teaching machines --- to receive private lessons in Miranda’s playroom, a pure white space that, thanks to Prospero’s technological magic, can be reshaped ...

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of The Dream of Perpetual Motion...

The Washington Post

Palmer's "The Dream of Perpetual Motion" riffs on Shakespeare's play by setting it in an alternate America powered by Rube Goldberg engineering and overseen by the brilliant, mad Prospero Taligent.

Apr 07 2010 | Read Full Review of The Dream of Perpetual Motion...

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

Set at the beginning of the twentieth century, after “the age of miracles,” this eloquent and often playful tale, stuffed full of allusions and sly commentary, is narrated by Harold, a man imprisoned aboard the zeppelin Chrysalis, a failing “perpetual motion machine.” He is alone except for the v...

Apr 04 2010 | Read Full Review of The Dream of Perpetual Motion...

SF Signal

Whereas much of today’s steampunk stories are about the romance of the genre, Palmer also uses it as a vehicle to make a statement about technology, thus making it stand out for being one of the most Literary steampunk books around.

Mar 16 2010 | Read Full Review of The Dream of Perpetual Motion...

Strange Horizons

(And a way for Harold to avoid writing anything that bites.) Eventually, Miranda re-enters Harold's life, and we're told the events that lead to his imprisonment aboard the Chrysalis.

May 19 2010 | Read Full Review of The Dream of Perpetual Motion...

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