The Company of the Dead

The Company of the Dead
The Company of the Dead

It is a truism of alternate history that no good deed ever goes unpunished. Whenever someone attempts to change the world for the better, the intervention all too often allows some greater calamity to transpire. Kill Hitler and the Soviet Union will conquer Europe. Start an industrial revolution in Renaissance Europe and nuclear war will break out by the end of the sixteenth century. Give the prehistoric peoples of the Americas seed grain and livestock and their conquest by Sung-dynasty China is assured.

The Company of the Dead, the first novel by Australian author David Kowalski, shares this basic conceit, describing a world not entirely unlike our own doomed to destruction by the actions of a single honest man. Continue reading “The Company of the Dead”

George Griffith’s Astronef Series

A Honeymoon in Space
A Honeymoon in Space

George Chetwynd Griffith-Jones is one of the forgotten luminaries of the classic British Scientific Romance. A best-selling author and sometime rival of H.G. Wells’ at the beginning of the twentieth century, his work has been mostly forgotten by later generations. While much of them are steeped in the opinions and prejudices of his day, Griffith’s tales contain many elements that would lay the basis for the first great boom of science-fiction.

The Astronef series is a good case in point. Continue reading “George Griffith’s Astronef Series”

Scarlet Traces: The Great Game

Scarlet Traces: The Great Game
Scarlet Traces: The Great Game

The sequel to Scarlet Traces (our review here) takes place in the Britain of the 1930s, with the invasion of Mars by the British Empire going badly.

We follow the Lady Charlotte, a photographer and reporter for The Interceptor, the last remaining liberal newspaper. With an insurgency in Scotland getting worse and branching into suicide attacks, Oswald Mosely as home secretary and the Commonwealth trying to withdraw its troops from Mars, Lotte manages to sneak onto the frontlines only to discover that she is stuck with the rearguard — and there is no rescue coming for them. Continue reading “Scarlet Traces: The Great Game”

Scarlet Traces

Scarlet Traces
Scarlet Traces

H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds never had a sequel. Thankfully Ian Edington and
the artist who calls himself D’Israeli have filled that gap in comic-book form with the formidable Scarlet Traces.

Their premise is simple: after the defeat of the Martians, Britain adapts their technologies to make themselves the world’s greatest superpower. The factories of the North are replaced with mechanical estates, the cavalry trade their horses for multi-limbed fighting machines, and homes are warmed by a spinoff of the Heat Ray. All is well in 1908 — or is it? Continue reading “Scarlet Traces”

Space Captain Smith

Space Captain Smith
Space Captain Smith

Toby Frost’s d├ębut novel, Space Captain Smith, is a highly enjoyable read of daring-do and regular wit and humor.

The book takes steampunk into the far-flung future of the twenty-fifth-century British Space Empire, where our moustached, stiff-upper-lipped hero, Isambard Smith, battles a multitude of marvelous bad guys, such as the evil Empire of the Ghast and the religious fanatics of the Republic of New Eden. Continue reading “Space Captain Smith”