It is a truth universally acknowledged that people who turn their nose up at steampunk are – wait a minute. I can’t do that. I am one of those. I was one of those. Let me explain.
Let me start over. I have probably been reading steampunk for years without knowing it, but only very recently have I been paying attention to the description. I have come to find out that I have not paid as much attention as I thought I had – previously, it’s been on the level of “Zombies? Seriously?” I do not consider myself a delicate flower, but the idea of brainnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnzzzzz – no.
Because I have nothing else to read (I wish there was a font for sarcasm) – I found myself checking out the bargain area of one of my favorite bookstores recently. There I saw a copy of George Mann’s The Affinity Bridge, which came highly recommended. As I only remembered the name of the book and the recommendation, I picked it up. A mystery? In Victorian London? Now you’re singing my kind of song.
We meet Sir Maurice Newbury as he is coming out of a late night party with his friend Sir Charles Bainbridge. Both of them are investigators – Sir Maurice for the Crown, Sir Charles for Scotland Yard. There are murders in London that have supernatural overtones – locals who are questioned report a “glowing bobby” seen in the area near the time of the murders. The “glowing bobby” appears to be more ghost than man, and that adds to the already astronomical amount of terror in a bad situation.
Sir Maurice has a new assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes. The three of them begin to work on the murders, and then they are pulled to a difference case. An airship has crashed in Finsbury Park, leaving no survivors. Sir Maurice’s involvement is directly requested by Queen Victoria. He and Miss Hobbes are pulled off the murders in Whitechapel, and they’re off to Finsbury Park.
They discover several very disturbing things, above and beyond what they expected. The passengers are hooked into their seats. While there is the possibility this could serve as a safety measure, it also ensured no passenger got out alive. A rep for the airship manufacturer is on the scene, and tells Sir Maurice and Miss Hobbes that the airship was piloted by an automaton. [Think a robot version of automatic pilot.] This is all very well, but there is no sign of any kind of pilot, automated or otherwise. When the rep is questioned on this, he replies that he will just say that the pilot was killed in the crash, and he really must go.
You will have gathered that all is not right in the land. There are a couple of mystery sub-plots in this book, and it is well worth your time.
The next adventure of Newbury and Hobbes is The Osiris Ritual.