The Boolean Gate by Walter Jon Williams (book review).

The one problem with Subterranean Press books is that even when we review them to fit in their release schedule, their short run books are often sold out before release. If you’re interested in limited editions, having their website stashed away on your Favourites list should at least allow you some chance at getting your favourite authors in this format.

Walter Jon Williams’ ‘The Boolean Gate’ is set back in the 19th century through the eyes of writer Sam Clemens, aka Mark Twain, and his encounters with Nicola Tesla, the genius behind the alternating electric current that populates our power cables and proved a lot safer than that other chap, Thomas Edison, with the more dangerous direct current. Tesla had other patents an ideas as well, one of which was the belief that he was getting messages from Mars and playing around with other potential Science Fiction devices that even Clemens thought that was a bit barmy. As such, he determined to end Tesla’s funding from some of the most powerful moneymaking people of the time than risk him going on.

Williams plays this game in the 19th century vehicular and even goes down to the detail of what they had to eat. Considering the size of his ten course breakfast, it’s no wonder Clemens didn’t need to eat until supper time although no doubt didn’t help his constipation. Tesla, in contrast, was a hygiene fanatic taken to polishing his own cutlery and skinning his own fruit. Rather than make this boring, these details flesh out the story considerably.

The discovery of cosmic rays was after Clemens death, let alone the induction fields that Tesla was proposing to set up, but even so this is a very vivid story and in real life, both of them were friends. If you like Williams’ work, then might want to add this book to your collection.

GF Willmetts

(pub: Subterranean Press. 119 page deluxe hardback. Price: $38.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59606-460-7)
check out website:


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.