Book Review: Momenticon

Momenticon

Momenticon by Andrew Caldecott on Kobo ereader
Momenticon – Andrew Caldecott
  • Author: Andrew Caldecott
  • Published: 20/01/2022
  • Page Count: 480

Synopsis:

Fogg curates a museum of humanity’s last treasures while the outside world endures. After the Fall, life runs like clockwork for the solitary Fogg, with not a single visitor signing the guest book in his two year tenure. On the eve of the third year of isolation, an unknown guest leaves a hallucinogenic Momenticon in front of a painting. An intruder living in the ceiling, a trumpet being served for breakfast and an aggravated visit from Tweedledee and Tweedledum shortly follow.

This kicks into motion a sweeping adventure that spans from the domes holding the last remnants of civilization to inside the memories of famous artists. Naturally, there are many dark stairwells along the way. 

Review:

Andrew Caldecott must be applauded for the brilliant ambition behind Momenticon. In his first novel post the Rotherweird trilogy, he has drawn inspiration from a multitude of metaphorical cuisines. The outcome is not only palatable- it’s downright delicious.

Have you tried to weave together a dystopian sci-fi tale predominantly based around Renaissance era art, incorporating Through The Looking Glass and a slew of other literary references? While I personally haven’t, Momenticon does this, and it does this with heart. The outcome is a testament to Caldecott’s care and vision.

Throwing all of this into the proverbial hot pot, it would be very easy for Momenticon to buckle under sheer scope. Strong characterization and fresh ideas on old classics hold together that which could easily have broken apart. I did find the start of Momenticon to be a bit heavy while the chessboard was being laid out. However, once the pieces began making their moves, the pages wouldn’t stop turning.

Dialogue and character interaction keep the tale feeling grounded and real. Though the setting is far from natural, those living in it have actual needs, desires and individual quirks.

Fogg has an endearing desire to talk about the art that he has spent his isolation with to whoever will listen. The cast respond to this in their unique ways, and it’s always a joy. Morag’s infectious go-getter style serves as a foil to Fogg’s more plain and simple way of things. Cosmo Vane, heir to the Tempestas corporate dynasty is a perfectly punchable antagonist. He comes off realistically entitled and depreciating of those he sees as lesser than himself.

The Dickensian supporting characters feel fully fleshed out, and give a glimpse of life before and during the Fall. Mander, the butler, has a fascination with postcards from the old world. Mrs Crike, a crone who has the art of pretending to be decrepit down to a science, stole many a scene. The cast from Alice’s adventures are faithful, adding just the right amount of weird to Momenticon’s tale.

What makes a Momenticon?

At it’s core, Momenticon tells a tale of the importance of moving forward, irrespective of what has been. Morag seeks answers around the loss of her family. Fogg must grow and adapt, working through before finally embracing suppressed memories of a tragic past. While lingering in a cell disguised as a school, Niobe’s thoughts revolve solely around freedom.

Fogg’s intimacy and obsession with the contents of the museum serve as a lens to help the reader understand how the art impacts the plot. As someone with zero knowledge of classical paintings, this was very appreciated. Illustrations by Nicola Howell Hawley throughout help those like me understand the works referenced throughout the novel – a welcome touch.

Different manifestations of corporate greed’s end state are explored in Momenticon. Because when the world falls apart, who else to rule but the shareholders and board? Genrich, a mega-corp responsible for building a dome that protected loyal subjects during the Fall operates in your traditional Orwellian manner. If it’s not efficient or useful, it needs not exist. Tempestas, their corporate rival, is far more grandiose. Their Lord Vane seeks to build a grand mimicry of the world that was lost, using famous artworks as an inspiration.

These two approaches have differing impacts on the respective inhabitants. Genrich finds it’s subjects becoming increasingly anxious and depressed in the face of utilitarian oppression. Those in the Tempestas Dome live under a dynasty of the ruling class and all the baggage that comes attached.

Conclusion

Momenticon is a complex, creative and charming story. By pulling from literature, classic art and traditional sci-fi tropes, Andrew Caldecott has created a work that scratches an itch I didn’t know I had. I’ll be eagerly awaiting Part Two, currently scheduled for 2024.

Recommended:

  • If you love a complex web of intertwined family drama that spans generations
  • For fans of Alice Through The Looking Glass, and it’s weird and wacky characters
  • To those wanting an introductory class on Renaissance art history
  • To those curious to see how the above could possibly play out in a world where mega-corps rule over dystopia

Steer clear of Momenticon:

  • If you can’t handle cliffhangers
  • To those who aren’t looking to get bogged down in detail

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