Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Book Review: Dark Side by Jonathan Green

Dark Side by Jonathan Green

This is the second in my recent series of Pax Britannia reviews marking the recent publication of Anno Frankenstein by Jonathan Green.

Dark Side expands on the short novella, Vanishing Point, that finished off Green’s second Pax Britannia novel, Leviathan Rising. Although, after saying that, the scope and all round scale of Dark Side in in a completely different league to Vanishing Point.

With Green’s usual flair for pulling in all of the related Steampunk tropes (I hate to keep using that word, but it is better than saying clich├ęs), he has once again picked a subject and injected it with the usual dose of steam powered high jinx, “Wellsian” Victorian Science Fiction, James Bond style espionage, and good old fashioned high adventure.

The plot initially revolves around a murder investigation, but it soon escalates into a full blown conspiracy. It is very difficult to go too far into it without giving away several of the important turning pint of the story. Lets just say it features a good deal of action on the moon, a typical trio of Bond type villains, the introduction of H.G. Well’s Selenites and the development of the Nazi war effort against the British Empire (I must admit that I didn’t notice the swastika on the cover until about half way through, but once you have seen it you can’t miss  it).

One of the joys of Green’s Pax Britannia books is his development of some of the supporting cast of characters, in particular in this book I was taken by the Billie, the street “urchin” cab driver, who’s cab happens to be a steam powered ex-military war droid!

Also the development of the lunar colonies worked very well, even considering the amount of pollution that steam driven vehicles and factories must have created within the atmosphere domes. After all, practicality never really plays a strong part in steampunk novels. That brings me to the one point that I couldn’t quite accept, the murder that Ulysses investigates involves a man falling from a high window, and I am sure that it would be perfectly possible to die by falling so far, even on the moon, however, their is not one mention of the 1/6th gravity, and surely that should have made some difference…

As with Green’s other books in the series, he finishes it off with a short novella, Proteus Unbound. even though this was a short adventure of Quicksilver, it felt like a full blown novel. Clearly Green is now using these shorter pieces to really fill out his world and Quicksilver’s time-line. The usual elements are all there and as is becoming familiar, Green brings back some of the characters that we have previously encounter in one of his other books. This story also sets up a future novel, and leaves a few unanswered questions. A good read, but nothing particularly new.

All in all, another excellent read and I highly recommend it.

I started reading Anno Frankenstein last night, expect the review of that one in a week or two…

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