Yet another geek blog

16 November 2011

by Keith Roberts

In Short

A well crafted alternative history. The religious wars of the 16th Century were decisively won by the Catholic Church who then went on to increase their stranglehold over all aspects of society. We have a 20th Century inhabited by people who feel historical.

Things to Like

The detail is carefully built up to make the world very believable. Each chapter is a self contained story centred on a character from a different level of society. The most striking thing (to us) about this world is the way it has developed. People are allowed to develop existing technologies, but not invent new ones.

For example, they have steam locomotives, because they developed from steam engines. But, with no investment or research there are no railways. The locomotives are owned by private hauliers and run on roads that are directly maintained by the towns. The nearest thing to large companies are the guilds such as the one that maintains the network of semaphore towers but they are not free to do anything new.

Things not to like

The format makes it feel a little fragmented and lacking in overall narrative. Only towards the end to the different threads begin to come together and only at the very end does it ask questions about the nature of history and the way that it works.

Things it is like

  • Ruled Britannia by Harry Turtledove (The Spanish Armada is victorious)
  • The Warlord of the Air by Michael Moorcock (The British Empire never falls)
  • Fatherland by Robert Harris (Hitler wins World War II)
  • The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick (Ditto)
  • Going Postal by Terry Prattchett (Because of the semaphore towers)


posted by Yet Another Geek @ Wednesday, November 16, 2011

12 November 2011

The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: War of the Worlds By Manly Wade Wellman , Wade Wellman

In Short

What Sherlock Holmes got up to when the Martians were invading.

Things to Like

A better premise for a steampunk novel simply cannot be imagined. Because the world of Sherlock Holmes is so familiar, the reader can experience some of the thrill in its destruction that the original readers of The War of the Worlds must have felt. The lesser known Professor Challenger is also bought into the mix and there is a wonderfully cheeky revelation about Holmes' private life.

Things not to Like

The authors have taken all this potential and done absolutely nothing with it. Separated and alone, Challenger and Holmes simply wonder around following the exact events described in Wells' book and understand them. That is pretty much it.

The bombastic and arrogant Challenger should be a joy to write for. But, as he is alone he has nobody to be bombastic and arrogant to. Holmes conducts no experiments, makes no deductions. He just understands what is happening because he is so clever. You would at least expect some sparks when the men are finally bought together, but no. It is just mutual appreciation.

Even the cheeky idea about Homes' private life is handled in the most boring way imaginable. The reader is just told what it is near the beginning of the story.

I suspect that the authors were just too timid to add anything, but in places it feels as if they are actually trying to be dull.

Things it is Like

  • The War of the Worlds by HG Wells
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Edison's Conquest of Mars by Garrett P Serviss
  • War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches by Kevin J Anderson


posted by Yet Another Geek @ Saturday, November 12, 2011


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