October 23, 2017

Review: The Ghosts of War by George Mann.

Out in July from Pyr Books!

Looking for a Steampunk comic book thriller for the summer? This week we look at George Mann’s Ghosts of War out from Pyr Books next month. Fans of this space will remember our review of the first book in the series by Mr. Mann, entitled the Ghosts of Manhattan. In this latest installment, flechettes once again fly from strap-on wrist launchers as we follow the adventures of the Ghost as he tracks down a source of mysterious abductions. The setting is a steam-punk variation that finds the United States on the brink of war with Britain as the Ghost uncovers a biological menace that threatens all of humanity. With no shortage of non-stop action, Ghosts of War delivers the goods, in the vein of some classic Golden Age superheroes such as Batman or the Sandman. After suffering the trauma of war, the Ghost finds himself tracing the series of abductions back to a massive underground plot of an evil genius with a vast backing. Why is it that geniuses always have a predilection for dastardly deeds? Is it just an occupational hazard, or what? After several run-ins with the obligatory minions (where does one get minions? Craigslist? Monster.com?) of evil, the Ghost adopts the Trojan horse strategy of infiltration and has himself abducted for the ultimate showdown.

Ghosts of War definitely pulls no punches in the action department. I would definitely read Ghosts of Manhattan first as it sets the tone and much of the background for the alternate universe of the Ghost. While the character is developed more along the lines of his wartime service in the sequel, one wonders about the background and the cause of this alternate time line… unlike the parallel works The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man and the recent Cowboy Angels, few of the “why’s” for this universe are laid out. I know that exposition is anathema to an action-adventure, but the scientist in me always wonders about the cause of things…

Ghosts of War does, however, take mere steam-punk and branch it into comic-book punk of the best pulp variety. Think of the old super-hero tales pre-comics code authority, or the dystopian vision of Tim Burton’s Batman (it’s hard for me to not hear the soundtrack of the film in my head during the action scenes!) In fact, the Ghosts of War would do well as an adaptation into graphic novel format. Again, it might just be the cover artwork, but I always picture the Ghost rendered as the early DC version of the Sandman, complete with trench coat and fedora. Do make an effort to hunt down Ghosts of War and put it on your summer science fiction reading list for pure fun and action!

Next week: Speaking of alternate realities, we take a look at the musings of the master of physics himself, Stephen Hawking with his classic Black Holes and Baby Universes!

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  1. [...] Bone: the 5th Book in the Quantum Gravity series. Also, Pyr books’ the Ghosts of War, recently featured on this very site is due out this month. But the big burning question this month in sci-fi is; will [...]

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