Homunculus was written by James P. Blaylock and originally published in 1986. It is the second book in a trilogy that follows the scientist, Langdon St. Ives. Homunculus was re-released earlier this year by Titan Books. A mysterious airship flies overhead in Victorian London. On that airship is a box and inside the box is believed to be an alien homunculus. However, this box is not the only one of its kind. For those who may not know what a homunculus is, Dictionary.com gives several meanings. Here are the meanings that are applicable here: “an artificially made dwarf, supposedly produced in a flask by an alchemist; a fully formed, miniature human body believed, according to some medical theories of the 16th and 17th centuries, to be contained in the spermatozoon.”
Around London, several people are closely watching the flight path of the dirigible in order to get their hands on the homunculus. One of these people, the evangelist Shiloh, believes himself to be the son of the homunculus as well the messiah. Dr. Ignacio Narbondo, the vivisectionist and necromancer is also after the homunculus. Langdon St. Ives and his cohorts of the Trismegistus Club are aware of these villains seeking the box and are trying to get to it first.
This book has its entertaining moments, but overall, it is so boring. I could only read 4 or 5 pages at a time before my mind would start to wander. I would get through a whole page, realize that I hadn’t paid attention to a single word, then have to reread it. My biggest problem with this book was the insane number of central characters: Langdon St. Ives, Hasbro, Bill Kraken, Captain Powers, Kelso Drake, Nell Owelsby, William Keeble, Theophilus Godall, the hunchback Ignacio Narbondo, the pimple and puss-covered Willis Pule, Jack Owelsby, Dorothy Keeble, and the faux messiah Shiloh. Not only were all these characters talked about in detail, but the parts of the story were told from the points of view of most of these characters. Because the story is told from so many viewpoints, it feels disorganized to me. I couldn’t care about a single character because I didn’t feel like any character was given enough attention to come across as well-developed. If you want me to feel for a dozen different characters, you’re going to have to take your time with them like J.K. Rowling did.
Rating: I give this book 3 out 5 mysterious boxes (The story itself was so boring, but some of the ideas were very clever and the story had so much potential.)
If you would like to read Homunculus for yourself you can get it from Titan Books. Titan books is also releasing a special limited edition version of Blaylock’s The Aylesford Skull which you can get here.