The creator of useful field guides to monsters (2007) and aliens (2010) turns his attention to an eccentric Scottish inventor’s mechanical fancies.
Along with images of taped- or tacked-on rough sketches, scrawled notes, product brochures and schematic diagrams purportedly discovered in Lady Regina Bonquers III’s mysteriously abandoned castle near Loch MeeAhwey, Olander offers descriptions of over 23 marvelous machines. These range from a 40-foot-tall, garbage-recycling Crocobot Compactor and the protean household helper Chore Master X2000 to a pocket-sized Personal Grooming Robot equipped with pimple popper. Skating even closer to the boundaries of good taste, he also presents a tall and soft-bodied “Hugging Robot” built by the solitary Lady as her personal comfort object. Thanks largely to programming glitches and, often, attendant bad publicity, none of Lady Bonquers’ ingenious creations enjoyed commercial success, alas. Nevertheless, budding inventors may find inspiration in these pages (if not specific instructions or even clear details) for labor- and life-saving robots of their own.
According to the author, Lady Bonquers is still remembered in “the international circle of pseudoscientists and mad geniuses.” Here’s hoping that this tribute will expand her renown to a wider audience. (Fiction. 10-12)