A Red Sun Also Rises is a pleasantly original steampunk book by Mark Hodder. A Red Sun is a break from Hodder’s flagship, the now growing Burton and Swinburne series that explores a completely new world but carries with it the traditional Victorian-based characters. It almost reads like a bizarre dream, where talking peanut-like aliens burst into horrible monsters. The planet has the feel of the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine in Pepperland.”
Why is the story called a A Red Sun Also Rises? Because a red sun also rises.
The story is written in the first person by a English priest named Aiden Fleischer, who is forced to flee his town with his new loyal sexton, a crippled women named Clarissa Stark. Clarissa showed up at Aiden’s door as a beggar and remains loyal to Aiden throughout the story.
After some Jack the Ripper stuff, Aiden and Clarissa end up being transported to a strange planet with two suns and some aliens that look like peanuts with several legs.
Clarissa and Aiden, escorted by these strange aliens, make their way across this Pepperland-like world. They end up in a city not unlike the London but with peanut-like inhabitants called Yatsill. These aliens talk and behave as if they are a British. Fleischer and Clarissa move in as a type of nobility and live in a home not much different from the one they came from. Now the problem is that as the two suns set, a red sun will also rise and turn a strange world into something much more deadly.
The first half of the story is everyone in the world waiting for the two suns to set. This will mark the time of the return of the Blood Gods, who will attack the London-like city of New Yatsill.
This is a good read that doesn’t fall into the many clichés other steampunk books seem to follow. Hodder is an original and thorough steampunk author and doesn’t disappoint. It has a little of the Spring-Heeled Jack series feel but let loose in an even more fantastical world. It will be interesting to see if there is a sequel.
This story is part of the archive of Steampunk Books, Kevin Steele’s website of hackneyed steampunk book reviews and lists (2016-20). Click here for the full archive.