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Wen Spencer

REVIEW:  Tinker by Wen Spencer

REVIEW: Tinker by Wen Spencer

Dear Ms. Spencer:

Tinker (Baen Fantasy)This was a library book and while it is much more romantic and erotic than the Ukiah Oregon books, it was very confusing. Tinker features a heroine of the same name, derived from her full name (Alexander Graham Bell) and her skills (an 18 year old female genuis). She was created through the manipulation of ovum and seed by her grandfather. I didn’t quite understand where she gestated but in any event, Tinker is a completely scientific being. She owns a scrap and salvage yard in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh is a city that spends part of its time on Elfhome and part on Earth. Every 28 days, Pittsburgh returns to Earth – it is called Shutdown and it lasts for 24 hours. During Shutdown, an elf runs into her scrapyard being chased by magical beings – Foo dogs. (part of the myth in this story deals with Japanese mythology). The elf is Windwolf, an elf who Tinker wrangled with years before. She believes that she has a life bond with him and that if Windwolf dies, so does she. She fights the Foo dogs and saves Windwolf.

Because of a college entrance exam, it is determined that Tinker has the ability to build a hyperphase gate. This gate allows regular transitions between parallel worlds – such as Earth and Elfhome. There is currently a hyperphase gate run by the Chinese that allows Pittsburgh to transition from Earth and Elfhome, but it is faulty and requires the Shutdown. This knowledge that Tinker has leads her to become a tool in a fight between Earth forces (NSA, for example) and the oni – Japanese demons. The world building is fairly scientific and even though I read slowly, I didn’t quite understand all the concepts.

Throughout the story, Tinker is displayed as a true genius – one who is brilliant but lacks any social skills. This leads her to hurt someone close to her and it is easy for her to be hurt in return.

On a romantic note, Tinker has quite a few sexual feelings for more than one character, but it seemed reasonable given her age (18). I read on one review that the “sex is entertaining, though there may be rather alot of it for some reader’s taste.” The reviewer must not have been a romance reader since I thought the sex scenes were rather tame. Tinker’s true love, of course, is Windwolf, and given the subject matter, the blend of romance, fantasy and science fiction, this book was revelatory but flawed. The blend of science and magic could have been better explained, even after a re-reading I wasn’t quite sure what how the world worked. Despite my confusion, it was a fresh story then and still remains a fresh story. I liked it enough to buy my own copy after I returned the library one. B

Best regards,


You can buy the paper copy at Amazon or in e-form at Baen.

Dear Author

REVIEW: Wolf Who Rules by Wen Spencer

Dear Ms. Spencer:

Wolf Who RulesI think you must be a genius. I also think that Tinker, who is a genius, is a bit too much of a Mary Sue. Sure, she makes mistakes, but everybody wants her. She can do everything. She talks to dragons, defeats dragons, kills the oni, saves Pittsburgh, rebuilds gates, bridges the gap between humans and elves, and so on. This wasn’t so obvious in Tinker but becomes overt in Wolf Who Rules.

The other major flaw in your story is that you must have read Tinker in order to understand what was going on in Wolf Who Rules. There were many times in which you referenced fantasy elements in your world that really could only have been known if you had a clear recollection of Tinker. This was the major downfall. About 4 chapters in, I put WWR down and had to go and re-read Tinker.

The plot was fine. WWR had to request assistance from the other clains to work against the oni. By asking for help, WWR weakend his position as Viceroy of the Westernlands. He would have to give up land and part of his “kingdom” to the Stone Clan who came to provide additional defense against the oni. Tinker is questioning her relationship with Windwolf. She is wondering if they are truly married and is having a hard time assimilating into elf culture. And she is trying to solve the problem at Turtle Creek that she created in Tinker.

If the story had focused around the plot, it would been a much better book. Instead, you have days in which you talk about Windwolf negotiating with the Stone Clan but you don’t show any of the political manuevering. Further, very little action is taken by Windwolf other than to engage in the negotiations of how the land will be divided with the Stone Clan. Aren’t the Westernlands in danger from the oni? Shouldn’t you all be doing something instead of having treaty talks?

Tinker, meanwhile, is having dreams. Tinker can’t have regular dreams. Her dreams are recreations of two iconoclastic fantasy art pieces: Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz. Having two of them be the basis for Tinker’s storyline said that you gave little effort or imagination to this point (and I know you are blessed with tremendous imagination). Why couldn’t you simply stick to one or why didn’t you think of your own allegorical dreams as you did in the first book?

Tinker is also having problems resisting Pony. Apparently WWR will be monogamous as long as that is what Tinker wants. But in the elf world, it is common to take lovers from the sekasha even if you are a mated pair. I hate this plot device. Screams late Anita Blake to me and a big Mary Sue give away. This opens the door for Tinker to have many lovers because that is how it is done within elf society. And added NOTHING to the story. Whatever.

Overall, Wolf Who Rules is really only a book for Tinker fans. The plot was all over the place, the heroine was too good to be true (not to mention TSTL in places) and the story was confusing requiring a re-read of Tinker in order for the sequel to make any sense. D+.

Best regards,