Nick Harkaway is used to answering questions about his dad John le Carré. “I keep trying to explain that I don’t mind,” the young British novelist wrote in a candid essay for The Telegraph. “It’s just part of the landscape to me, like my own nose.” But even if he is willing to talk about his famous father, don’t let your curiosity distract you from the fact that Harkaway is himself one seriously gifted author. Back in 2009, his sci-fi debut The Gone-Away World earned a Locus nomination for Best First Novel, and now his ambitious follow-up Angelmaker is a shoo-in for 2012 Best Book lists. A wholly original mix of gangster noir, steampunk, espionage adventure, and picaresque, Angelmaker tells the raucous tale of Joshua Joseph Spork, an antique clock repairman and the son of a legendary London mobster. Shaken from his quiet life when a 1950’s doomsday machine surfaces in his shop, Spork is forced to embrace his gangster roots as he tangles with an octogenarian super spy, clockwork bees, and an evil South Asian dictator in a mad dash to save the world. Filled with sharp insights on the nature of truth and free will, Angelmaker has been described by Matt Haig as a book “you finish reading in gape-mouthed awe and breathless admiration, having experienced something very special indeed.” Mr. Harkaway recently spoke with us via email about Angelmaker and “translit,” the necessity of villains, John Ruskin, the stigma of humor, his nonfiction debut The Blind Giant, and last summer’s Olympic Games.