Authors: David Barnett
A TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES BOOK New York
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
GIDEON SMITH AND THE MECHANICAL GIRL
Copyright © 2013 by David Barnett
All rights reserved.
A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC 175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
ISBN 978-0-7653-3424-4 (trade paperback)
ISBN 978-1-4668-0908-6 (e-book)
First Edition: May 2013
Printed in the United States of America
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To my wife, Claire, the hero of our empire
The journey to publication for Gideon Smith has been one that feels as fraught with trials as the adventure that follows, and just as Gideon would be nothing without the cast of characters around him, so this novel has relied upon the hard work, encouragement, and support of many people.
I would like to thank all at Tor for their unswerving support of Gideon Smith, principally my editor Claire Eddy, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Kristin Sevick, but not forgetting all those who have worked to turn a manuscript into a book, illustrate it, produce it, and sell it.
John Jarrold, my agent, deserves special mention for his constant belief in me since taking me on as a client in 2005. He did warn me we were in for the long haul, and seven manuscripts later he was proved right.
Kudos, also, to Eric Brown for his long- term championing of my work, Darren Nash, Jon Courtenay Grimwood (who said, when I got the Tor deal, “It’s about bloody time”), and Nick Harkaway, among many others.
Thanks to mum and dad for instilling in me a love of books and never telling me I was reading too much science fiction, and to my mates who I’ve bored to tears over many a pint with my plans for literary world domination.
This book is dedicated to my wife, Claire, for always being there and for her words of encouragement which can be summed up thus: Just get on with it.
And extra-special thanks to our children, Charlie and Alice, who listened spellbound around a fire on a wet Welsh camping holiday to episodic (and slightly sanitized) adventures of Gideon Smith, and always asked for more.
I hope there are a lot more people out there like you.
Poets and heroes are of the same race, the latter do what the former conceive.
—Alphonse de Lamartine (1790– 1869)
Annie Crook never read newspapers. If she had, she might have known what was coming.
But she never read newspapers. She passed soot- grimed boys on the streets, shrill voices jostling to present the wares of the
Argus, London News, Gazette,
and a dozen others. France and Spain at each others’ throats. Skirmishes along the Mason-Dixon Wall. A dirigible crash in Birmingham. All a fog of hollered headlines to her. Annie Crook never read newspapers, because she was in love.
Not that it mattered whether she read the papers or not, because there were plenty of customers who came into the shop where she worked, eager to offer their opinions on the day’s events. Queen Victoria should take hold of the European problem and impose her will on France and Spain, they said, perhaps utilizing the German armies under her command. The Texan rebels in the southern regions of America should be thoroughly bombed out of existence by airships from the British enclaves in Boston and New York, they decided, as punishment for seceding from the Crown. The dirigible crash in Birmingham . . . well, that wasn’t anyone’s fault. At least it hadn’t been London.