Whatever expectations one might have for a debut literary novel, Dexter Palmer’s alt-science fiction, steampunkish retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest surely exceeds them. Set in a 20th century where humanity is being systematically crushed by a mechanized sort of wizardry, The Dream of Perpetual Motion is Harold Winslow’s memoir of how he came to be aboard an airship powered by a “perpetual motion” machine, flying above a wrecked city. But something’s terribly wrong. The automatons that operate the ship are failing, the ship itself is falling and Harold is a ruined man. He’s haunted by the constant, insane voice of Miranda, the adopted daughter of the technological genius, Prospero Taligent, who created both the blimp and the mechanical men who fly it. Harold struggles to understand how things ended up in such a state, and so do we. The tragedy may seem Shakespearean, but the lack of humanity is all ours.