Review: The Lens and the Looker
The Lens and the Looker by Lory S. Kaufman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
"The Lens and the Looker" (History Camp 1) by Lory Kaufman could be x-rated for chopped-off finger and sword-slain soldiers. I like the premise, rebellious adolescents find out how good present lives are compared to a dirty smelly dangerous past. But they never learn self-reliance, how to reason and decide individually, discover and act on strengths, find and bolster friend's frailties in teamwork, expose and exploit enemy weakness. They always follow rules and their AI tutor. Research details and awkward translations are mostly parroted from AI, better when incorporated seamlessly.
Excerpts from #2 are highlights, more intriguing than straight first chapter, but personally I almost identify more with the confused yearning ugly Ugi. I know their future is safe. Perhaps if backstory shows that characteristics scamps may get in trouble for, say taking apart machinery, overhearing and copying secrets, or interpreting adult double-talk, lead to current triumphs?
Teen trio in 2437 are sentenced to reform at hard-time History camp as 1347 Verona orphan apprentices to a refugee lensmaker and family, but sneak in Pan, a genii, hologram AI created by hackers with propensity to provoke trouble, their deus ex machina. Hansum 17 exchanges long kisses with the daughter of the house and talks up technical plans drawn by portrait sketcher Shamira 15 who cooks and cleans superbly, while Lincoln 14 cleans and organizes the workroom, says more "zippy" than "Jesus/God", after clouts from their new Master. Their first stunt, laxative dose the noble, is not funny, if you've been around or performed stinky air cleanup from explosive bouts of the real thing: body, clothes, floor, walls, crevices, furniture. Their next feat risks their own existence and the fate of the world, inventing the telescope and weapons ahead of time. After initial mouthiness, they show no evidence of criminality, follow directions fully from their new AI and comply all-round. They are sappy naive from the start, on their own no match for opposing nasty murdering prince and conniving nobles. Chase and combat are lively, but feel more prerequisite than spontaneous.
When they are sure rescuers will not save them, from changing time, they continue inventing. Illogical.)
Regarding the 1347 Verona telescope (looker) cardboard parts - corrugated paper was invented in 1800s England, cardstock heavyweight paper I couldn't find an origin, and parchment in Italy was probably costly goatskin.
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