What does it mean to be a person? Do you need to be human? What about artificial humans? These are the questions at the heart of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s novella, Made Things.
The novella centres on Coppelia, a puppeteer and street thief living alone in the magical city of Loretz. Well, not entirely alone because living in Coppelia’s attic is a small tribe of homunculi — living puppets, or small artificial people. The homunculi don’t entirely trust their host but do recognise that working with her is so much more profitable than not and that she is a risk worth taking. As the story starts, an slightly uneasy alliance has been formed between Coppelia and her guests.
Things are shaken up somewhat when a local crime boss decides that he needs Coppelia, among others, to break into a mages’ palace. Inevitably enough, things do not go as planned.
Made Things is a short and very readable tale about trust, loyalty and friendship. It has a great cast of characters, all of whom come to life (literally, in some cases) in a manner that is both engaging and believable.