The Search for Cern
The Search for Cern marked my first foray into the steampunk genre, and I have to say right off, it set a terrific precedence. The story opens in a world where electricity has not been in use on Earth for over a hundred years. Long ago, there was what was referred to as The Great Event, a catastrophe where most electrical devices ceased to work, and others were outright destroyed by a mysterious race. I will leave it at this: There was a real-world fear of a recent technological advancement. And as it turns out, it happened. Since then, this race forbids any use of electricity. Should humans generate it, silver ships known as Sentinels appear and destroy the device (and anybody who should be standing around it). Enter Professor Henry Coombs, a researcher of electronic artifacts. While this may seem a trivial pursuit, unworthy of a university, F.A. Baker creates a believable account of a cascading effect of when electronic devices were lost, so were the electronic records of these devices. Further, many of the paper documents were destroyed in the aftermath of The Great Event. In a sense, something as simple as an instruction booklet to a toaster would be a goldmine for Coombs and his associates. Henry soon meets The Lady Grey, and as a reader, we are instantly intrigued by her. She’s extremely wealthy and seems to hold an interest in electronics that rivals Coombs’s . There is also an immediate feeling that she knows much more than she initially lets on.
Baker weaves clever plot devices that had me turning pages from beginning to end. She did a great job in the astonishment within the characters on products we take for granted today. She also paints vivid scenery of the various locations that Henry visits, from France to mountains of Switzerland.
The pacing was generally good, however, there were a few points where I felt things could have moved a little faster. I would also like to add that Baker seems to know her stuff. By the end, I was convinced that she is a fluent French speaking, Electric Engineer. Perhaps she is! All in all, it was a wonderful story that I would highly recommend. I would be very interested in future works from F.A. Baker with hopes that there is a direct sequel of The Search for Cern.