April 4, 2020

Review: Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon by Mark Hodder.

On sale this month!

We made an interesting observation at last year’s Necronomicon convention. Trekkies and storm-troopers seemed noticeably absent, while goths, zombies, and steam-punkers seemed to be all the ‘rage’. It is of note that the Steampunk movement has yet to really have a flagship movie or television franchise… but that all could change if anyone was willing to pick up the Burton and Swinburne series. We’re talking about Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon, book three in the alternative history science fiction series forthcoming from Pyr Books written by Mark Hodder, due to hit book shelves at the end of January. Fans will remember our faithful reviews of this series starting with The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack, which won the Philip K. Dick award in 2011 and the second book in the series, The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man.

This installment takes our retro-heroes to the heart of deepest alternate-Africa, in an adventure that parallels the true-to-life exploits of the real (at least in our reality) Sir Richard Burton. As ever, Mr. Hodder gives us a history lesson or two along the way, recreating the little known but fascinating Battle of the Bees and the Bombing of Dar Es Salaam, giving each confrontation a vivid steam punk twist. I think that’s what I’ve enjoyed the most about the entire series; it’s sent us on numerous web searches as we trace true-life events intertwined with steam-punk adventure.   The entire series has done to the Steampunk genre what the Sopranos did for gangster movies… in each case, both series have taken all of the best elements of their respective genres and wrapped them up in one comprehensive package. (are you listening, SyFy?)

As the confrontation draws to a climax that spans the undiscovered realms of Africa, we’re drawn back to the 1st novel and the likes of Spring-Heeled Jack. I definitely would read these in sequence and not as standalone volumes, as the action crosses seamlessly from one novel to the next. Will there be a “Book 4?” There are certainly lots of alternate time lines and adventures out there in the Burton and Swinburne universe to be had… I’d like to get a further glimpse at the time-traveling future that the said Mr. Spring-Heeled Jack hailed from. Certainly, the chase for the “Eyes of Naga” has twisted the time and technology to a point where the future is ripe with possibilities. And the bio-war climax of the attack on African fortress of Dar Es Salaam leads readers to a steampunk confrontation that’ll have ‘em clamoring for more… or at very least, an adaption of the Burton and Swinburne series to the film and/or television series it deserves… we’ll be there on opening day, with spring-loaded boots on!

Next Week; we continue with our motif of reviewing “Book 3 in the series of” with Boneyards by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, the final (?) installment from the deep space salvage series Diving into the Wreck also out this month from Pyr Books!

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