The Cambridge Geek

Daryl Gregory - Spoonbenders

This dropped into one of my favourite genres, psychic/occult espionage. It's not something there's a lot of (see Charles Stross' "Laundry Files" or Rebecca Levene's "Cold Warriors" for excellent examples) so I'm always happy to find more.

Spoonbenders actually reaches above and beyond the Cold War politicking to also tell an impressively complex family drama. (Complex for two reasons, the first being a range of problems including the mob and the second being that hormonal teenagers shouldn't really be given psychic powers.)

The Telemachus family had a spike of popularity deep in their family history, but suffered at the hands of a debunker, even with the range of actual psychic abilities they had available, and the family have been in a slow decline ever since. This then turns into a heartwarming tale of a family pulled together by a lot of post-mortem skulduggery, attempting to overcome a reviled villain.

There are perhaps a few too many characters here, so that some of them fade into the background more than they should, but all of the main protagonists are very well drawn. I'm particularly fond (as I'm obviously meant to be) of Teddy Telemachus, the patriach of the Telemachus family, a conman and crook of the highest order, who longs for the days of gentleman gangsters and is always ruthlessly charming.

A lot of fun is had with the psychic powers, and the implications they can have for relationships, and they're taken nicely to their natural conclusion. Irene's ability to detect lies, for instance, has essentially destroyed her ability to trust people without operating under strict rules, and Buddy's future sight has bound him to only ever taking action when he remembers that he will have done it.

Also a rather hefty book, that took me a fair while to wade through. There's a lot going on here, but it's all exciting.

Highly recommended.

Tagged: Book Science fiction Enthusiastic amateurs Novel Print