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Authors: David Barnett

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Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl

GIDEON SMITH
and the
MECHANICAL GIRL

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

www.tor-forge.com

Tor
®
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)

CIP DATA—TK

First Edition: May 2013

Printed in the United States of America

0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

To my wife, Claire, the hero of our empire

Contents

Title

Dedication

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Prologue: Two Years Earlier

Chapter 1 The Smiths of Sandsend

Chapter 2 The Fate of the
Cold Drake

Chapter 3 Son of the Dragon

Chapter 4 The Shadow Over Faxmouth

Chapter 5 A Most Unusual Dinner

Chapter 6 The House of Einstein

Chapter 7 The Imitation Game

Chapter 8 The Children of Heqet

Chapter 9 Bent of the
Argus

Chapter 10 London

Chapter 11 Captain Trigger, at Last

Chapter 12 Dr. Reed’s Casebook

Chapter 13 The Belle of the Airways

Chapter 14 Maria Alone

Chapter 15 Vampires of Shoreditch

Chapter 16 The Attack on Embankment

Chapter 17 The Last Testament of Annie Crook

Chapter 18 Clockwork Wishes

Chapter 19 To Egypt!

Chapter 20 Alive, Alive-o

Chapter 21 The Sky Pirates of the
Yellow Rose

Chapter 22 Countess Bathory Unleashed

Chapter 23 Red Hot in Alex

Chapter 24 The Astonishing Mr. Okoth

Chapter 25 The Lost Pyramid of Rhodopis

Chapter 26 Beneath the River, Beneath the Sand

Chapter 27 Your Fear Is a Lie

Chapter 28 What Happened to Dr. John Reed?

Chapter 29 The Tale of Rhodopis

Chapter 30 A Dragon to Eat the Sun

Chapter 31 Apep

Chapter 32 The Battle of London

Chapter 33 The Hero of the Empire

Epilogue: Two Weeks Later

Acknowledgments

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.
—David Barnett
Poets and heroes are of the same race, the latter do what the former conceive.
—Alphonse de Lamartine (1790– 1869)

Prologue
Two Years Earlier

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.

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