My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
We’ll call this a 3.5 stars because any book that makes the reader think about how they see the world gets extra points. In truth, I’m still trying to decide exactly how I feel about Tom Miller’s debut, The Philosopher’s Flight, an ARC of which I received through Goodreads.com. Miller’s unique world is intriguing but, in what I imagine is only the first book of a series, it requires a lot of explication so it reads rather slowly for the first 100 pages or so.
The Philosopher’s Flight is an interesting look at a man trying to break into what is essentially a female-dominated section of society during what we now know as World War I. Miller explores themes that are very much relevant today – sexism, war and the arms race, and religious mania. The reversal of roles as the male student is increasingly discriminated against as he proves quite capable in the traditionally female-dominated field of philosophy (not what you think), specifically hovering (they can fly!) certainly makes one take a long look at the forms of discrimination we still find in the world today but, I must admit, his take on it didn’t always sit well with me. I can’t say for sure why but some of the women’s reactions to Robert’s presence and success didn’t always ring true. Specifically, the crude and destructive ways the women act to get Robert to give up his area in the locker room. While I’m certain college-age men would stoop that low but I’m sure young women would. Then again maybe they would and I just haven’t come across one that would.
If it turns out that this is just the start of a series, and though there is a somewhat satisfying end to The Philosopher’s Flight, I really believe there will be, I would probably read subsequent books.
A combination of fantasy, history, science fiction, and coming-of-age genres, The Philosopher’s Flight is difficult to categorize and therefore it is difficult for me come up with a similar book to recommend. If you enjoy Miller’s unique, alternate history world that truly makes you think, I recommend Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series. If you like Miller’s strong women set in a period of history when women weren’t expected to be anything let alone fighters and leaders, you might enjoy Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate. I wouldn’t say that either of these series are very much like The Philosopher’s Flight but they’re the closest I’ve yet read.