Day 13: The Guilt Child by Margaret Ronald
The Guilt Child very nearly lost me when I read the word airship. As much as I like airships, they need a rest nearly as much as vampires. But Ronald won me back when I read:
“The Gestenwerke line’s Tram #41 woke up,” the man said, but an airship descending into the station drowned out his next words. “—headed east,” he went on, unperturbed. “They’re trying to get the passengers out before it leaves the city.”
This was not quite the story and the setting I was expecting. This is a world where machines eventually become sentient and when they do, they flee the city and start a life on their own.
This is a lonely giant story (where the giant is a machine parts press named Stamper) who befriends the lonely child who at first found him fearsome, but then loves him. The story itself isn’t anything terribly new, but the trappings charm and it is well told.
Carla was sold off by her father to a wealthy uncle. She is needed to preserve the family fortune. The heart of their fortune, the printing press, became sentient some time ago and the family still prospers by emotionally blackmailing Stamper into staying by making Stamper think they are poor and starving. This is a ruse he had seen through long ago, but loves the family he toils for and remains, until the day he able to escape and preserve the family fortunes at the same time.
It’s a sentimental story, unabashedly so, because sometimes that’s exactly what you need.