Thursday, December 31, 2009

Zeppelins Ho!

George Mann; The Affinity Bridge (Tor Books; 2009; ISBN 978-0-7653-2320-0; cover by Viktor Koen).

Steampunk is all the rage these days. H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and even Arthur Conan Doyle are being folded into the sub-genre. William Gibson, Bruce Sterling and others migrated from cyberpunk to dabble. There are multiple steampunk-themed games, books and even webcomics (this one being the best).

I've encountered George Mann before as an anthologist. The Affinity Bridge is the start of a series, featuring two characters that share some distant ties to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (especially as shown in the steampunked reooting of that venerable series of tales). Maurice Newbury plays the role of Sherlock Holmes with his assistant Veronica Hobbes stepping into the role of Dr. Watson (but more the role from the original tales or the television series that featured Jeremy Brett as Holmes and David Burke and Edward Hardwicke as Watson; in other words, not the incompetent sidekick that Nigel Bruce played again the Holmes as depicted by Basil Rathbone).

After an excellent opening in which a British military unit in the wilds is destroyed by...zombies (zombies and zeppelins, oh my!), we move to London where an airship is involved in a tragic accident, killing all on board. The airship was piloted by a clockwork automaton, one of many that have inserted themselves into many walks of life. Toss in a ghostly policeman, more zombies, mysterious deaths and dismemberment...

A fun read and I'm glad to find a new author. I'll pick up the later installments, when they are published; there was some weakness in the book (for example, some "science" being more "fantasy"), but it kept me going later and later each night until I finished it. Zeppelins ho!

1 comment:

John Lambshead said...

I sold George Mann a short story last year in his role as Editor at Black Library.

I liked the Affinity Bridge. I thought it innovative and exciting. I am less keen on his follow up nove, Osirus Rising, but that is probably just a personal taste thing.