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Review - A Red Sun Also Rises

Posted by PatG on December 9, 2012 at 10:20 AM

A Red Sun Also Rises

 Mark Hodder


I first ran into Mark Hodder's work in Spring Heeled Jack, the first of his excellent Burton and Swineburne series. When I was asked to review A Red Sun Also Rises, I knew I would not be disappointed and I wasn't. One of the problems with reviewing books is giving an impression of the book without spoiling the author's secrets. This is particularly difficult for this book, but I will do my best.

The book opens with a word from Hodder which, combined with the opening paragraphs of the first chapter, sets the reader up for at the very least, an interesting time travel story. Aiden Fleischer, a priest who has lost his faith and Clarissa Stark, a highly intelligent but physically deformed amateur engineer forced into a life of beggary, are brought together as platonic helpmates in Victorian England. Together they suffer through heartbreak, pain and poverty. They work together to escape to a better life in Fleischer's country parish, in London, in distant lands and as the title suggests in different worlds. Each time they achieve some peace, they and the story are pushed onward.

The central theme of the book is how we approach the relationship between good and evil. Over this is a layer of ecology that owes more to the Romantic and modern poets than Avatar. To play with this theme, Hodder draws upon a battery of literary devices to create a tale that also embraces sorrow and hope, reality and fantasy, and industry and nature. In this rich and sometimes complex story the reader will find whispers of Wordsworth, Conrad, Stevenson, Wells, Roethke, Lovecraft, Hodder himself and if one is a fan of anime, a doubtlessly unintentional channelling of Paprika.

From bucolic country parishes to the black smoke of London, from stifling jungles to bizarre alien worlds, Hodder covers them all. You will find everything from savage native rites to otherworldly war machines combined in a bewildering whirlwind of neo-Victorian steampunk goodness.

This book is a meal from which the reader can nibble tasty morsels from the side dishes or dive right in for the full six course haute cuisine feast. In either case, the reader will be amply rewarded when, not if, they go back for seconds.

 Highly recommended!

For more information go to PYR

Patrick Gilliland (Steampunk Canada member PatG)

Patrick Gilliland is an unrepentant reader. He always has several small pyramids of books being read scattered about the house. While studying literature in university, he developed a like for Victorian novels and a dislike for Victorian poets. Currently his tastes run to 19th century history, traditional cookbooks and of course steampunk. When not reading or thinking about reading, he can be found in his man cave painting little lead martians. He denies responsibility for any pew pew or kerpow noises emanating form said edifice.


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