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It’s interesting what can inspire a story sometimes. Asimov said his Foundation series sprung from looking at a coffee table book with an image of a dancing soldier; The “OZ” of Wizard of Oz fame came from a second volume filing cabinet marked “O-Z.”
This week’s review, A Red Sun Also Rises by Mark Hodder out in December via Pyr Books is great example of the fertile mind spring of the imagination. Fans of this space will remember our reviews of Mr. Hodder’s epic Burton & Swinburne series, The Strange Affair of Spring-heeled Jack, The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man, & Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon. The series was one of the most enjoyable of recent memory, and we thought it was a fitting recipient of the 2011 Philip K. Dick award. Mr. Hodder is an astute curator of alternate world science fiction history, and the series sent us to Wikipedia and beyond more than once.
The idea for A Red Sun Also Rises sprung from a journal retrieved from the wreck of The Hermes sunk in 1945. The book revolves around Aiden Fleischer, a missionary to the island of Koluwai in the South Pacific who is transported to a distant and alien world. Think of it as a sort of dark Lilliputian twisted version of Alice in Wonderland.
The planet of Ptallaya to which Fleischer and a Miss Clarissa Stark are transported is in a multiple star system, composed of two yellow stars and one immense Red sun. The world is populated by the Yatsill, a curious spider-like race of aliens who seek to mimic an alien version of Victorian London as perceived through Clarissa’s mind.
But all is not well and takes a turn to the foreboding as the enormous red giant Sun paints the landscape. This sparks the era of the dominance of the Blood Gods, as Aiden realizes their plans to cross the barrier and dominate the Earth. As a church-schooled missionary, Aiden is uniquely qualified to grapple with the moral issues of the brutal world and its own reflections on Victorian society. Mr. Hodder also gives a nod to the often dense and archaic language of the original diary while delivering it in a more palatable format. In the long arc of history perhaps its only the moral and compassionate civilizations that will survive and thrive… but often at the price of having to stand up to brutal regimes.
Do give A Red Sun Also Rises a read for a look at a unique moral and psychological sci-fi tale. Far from another standard fare offering of Steampunk madams and Babbage machines, the book offers up a complete and wondrously original world. And while The Hermes may have sank, the stage was set by the disappearance of yet more souls from the Earth… Could we be in for another visit to Yatsill soon?
Next week: we look at the U.S. Space Policy at a crossroads with: A New American Space Program!