Rupetta by N.A. Sulway. Book review

rupettaRUPETTA by N.A. SULWAY, Tartarus Press, h/b, £35.00

Reviewed by Matthew Johns

Another beautifully bound volume from the connoisseurs at Tartarus Press, Rupetta imagines what could happen if an artificial intelligence was created in 1619 in France, and how the world could change.

Rupetta is the AI – made from metal, leather, rubber and other materials, somehow imbued with consciousness.  Powered by a clockwork heart that must be wound by the official Wynder in an unexplained way, Rupetta finds herself unwillingly made a deity by an unscrupulous Wynder.  This then founds a religion in which only the most holy are given clockwork hearts to replace the weak flesh.  Rupetta somehow creates her own offspring, Perdita, but is then separated from her.

The story is told over several hundred years following Rupetta and her Wynders.  Sulway’s well-crafted prose is a perfect match for Tartarus’ bindings.  Rupetta’s sad tale is thoughtfully told, a poignant story of loves and lives lost, of wars fought and won and lost over a religion based on falsehoods.  A stunning masterpiece of modern fiction, Rupetta pulls the reader into Sulway’s world, and emotionally engages them in her life and struggles.