The Affinity Bridge by George Mann
Start with some steampunk, add heaping bits of Sherlock Holmes, a dash of Nancy Drew, a couple tablespoons of Dr. Who, a cup of zombies, and (unfortunately) some well-tread movie bits, and you've pretty much summed up The Affinity Bridge — a mildly enjoyable, if not particularly original, romp through a slightly-off Victorian England.
Set in an alternate steampunk London with massive airships overhead and ravenous zombies in the poorer streets (the result of a virus from India), The Affinity Bridge introduces the detective duo of Sir Maurice (an anthropologist at the British Museum and a Queen's agent) and his assistant Watson, I mean, Miss Veronica Hobbes. The two have a plethora of cases to deal with — the mysterious crash of a passenger airship, the mysterious disappearance of the airship's clockworkman pilot (bran... Read More
George MannGeorge Mann is the Consultant Editor of Solaris Books, the SF/F imprint of BL Publishing. He is the editor of the anthologies The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction and The Solaris Book of New Fantasy.
Newbury & Hobbes — (2008-2013) Steampunk. Publisher: Welcome to the bizarre and dangerous world of Victorian London, a city teetering on the edge of revolution. Its people are ushering in a new era of technology, dazzled each day by new inventions. Airships soar in the skies over the city, whilst ground trains rumble through the streets and clockwork automatons are programmed to carry out menial tasks in the offices of lawyers, policemen and journalists. But beneath this shiny veneer of progress lurks a sinister side. For this is also a world where lycanthropy is a rampant disease that plagues the dirty whorehouses of Whitechapel, where poltergeist infestations create havoc in old country seats, where cadavers can rise from the dead and where nobody ever goes near the Natural History Museum.
The Affinity Bridge by George Mann
The Affinity Bridge by George Mann
I did not have any expectations for George Mann’s The Affinity Bridge, and it managed to disappoint me anyway.
The book is beautifully presented. I must remember what they say about books and covers. Besides the beautiful cover, The Affinity Bridgehas a clever idea: a Holmesian detective who is an Agent of the Crown, and his plucky female Dr Watson, in a steampunk world. Poor plotting, shallow characterization and bad prose stand between this idea and its execution.
In the Whitechapel slums, people are being strangled by a strange “blue glowing policeman.” Just as Newbury and Hobbes, our two protagonists, begin to investigate, Queen Victoria calls them away to solve the mystery of an airship crash. It is immediately clear to the reader that the slum murders and the crash will be connected, and it is soon cle... Read More
The Osiris Ritual by George Mann
George Mann’s The Osiris Ritual is the sequel to his Victorian-era fantasy-mystery, The Affinity Bridge. It shares the same setting and characters, as well as the same positives and, unfortunately, negatives as its predecessor.
We’re back at the start with Sir Maurice, one of her Majesty’s agents and a specialist in the occult, as he attends the unwrapping (literally) of a newly-discovered mummy, who turns out to have been mummified alive. The mystery deepens when those associated with finding the mummy start to turn up dead. Soon, Sir Maurice is caught up in a web of violence involving the contemporary murderer, an old Egyptian myth (the basis for the title), and a rogue English agent who allegedly died years ago. Meanwhile, his assistant Veronica is caught up in her own mystery: a group of young women have gone missing, all of whom attende... Read More
Ghosts of Manhattan — (2010-2011) Publisher: INTRODUCING THE WORLD’S FIRST STEAMPUNK SUPERHERO. 1926. New York. The Roaring Twenties. Jazz. Flappers. Prohibition. Coal-powered cars. A cold war with a British Empire that still covers half of the globe. Yet things have developed differently to established history. America is in the midst of a cold war with a British Empire that has only just buried Queen Victoria, her life artificially preserved to the age of 107. Coal-powered cars roar along roads thick with pedestrians, biplanes take off from standing with primitive rocket boosters and monsters lurk behind closed doors and around every corner. This is a time in need of heroes. It is a time for The Ghost. A series of targeted murders are occurring all over the city, the victims found with ancient Roman coins placed on their eyelids after death. The trail appears to lead to a group of Italian-American gangsters and their boss, who the mobsters have dubbed ‘The Roman’. However, as The Ghost soon discovers, there is more to The Roman than at first appears, and more bizarre happenings that he soon links to the man, including moss-golems posing as mobsters and a plot to bring an ancient pagan god into the physical world in a cavern beneath the city. As The Ghost draws nearer to The Roman and the center of his dangerous web, he must battle with foes both physical and supernatural and call on help from the most unexpected of quarters if he is to stop The Roman and halt the imminent destruction of the city.
Ghosts of Manhattan by George Mann
I’ve been lukewarm to George Mann’s Victorian steampunk novels set in London, finding them mostly adequate: quick-paced but a bit flat and somewhat too beholden to cinematic cliché. They are intermittently entertaining and lively, but never quite get all the way to good. Mann’s new novel, Ghosts of Manhattan, is similar, but set in America this time. It’s perhaps a step above the London novels in quality.
It’s 1926 and America is in a cold war with a British Empire that still stretches over much of the world. The city of New York is filled with coal-powered cars and rocket-propelled biplanes. It’s also filled with crooks, most notably The Roman: the violent head of a group of gangsters and the person seemingly responsible for a run of targeted murders, each victim left with a pair of authentic Roman coins on their eyelids.
The... Read More
The Solaris Book of New Fantasy by George Mann (ed.)
I’m pretty much a novice when it comes to short fiction. Because of my lack of experience in this area, I hope that you will bear with me as I try to provide a thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of The Solaris Book of New Fantasy, even if I don’t always succeed. The plan is to first look at each short story individually providing synopses and commentary, followed by my evaluation of the compilation as a whole. So, let’s look at the stories:
1) “Who Slays the Gyant, Wounds the Beast” by Mark Chadbourn. On Christmas Eve in the year 1598 in a world where England is at war against the Faerie, England’s greatest spy Will Swyfte is on a mission of the greatest import — he has until dawn to prevent the Faerie Queen from crossing over to the other side. If he doesn’t, then the Unseelie Court w... Read More
The Human Abstract — (2004) Publisher: Guided by machines from Earth, the colony world of Copernica has become a stable human outpost, a world not dissimilar to Earth itself, with a burgeoning population and culture of its own. But Rehan Mihajlovic, a dealer in antiquarian goods, is about to find out that history is only as reliable as those who write it, and that death, when it comes, is never very far away…
Sherlock Holmes: The Will of the Dead — (2013) Publisher: A young man named Peter Maugram appears at the front door of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson’s Baker Street lodgings. Maugram’s uncle is dead and his will has disappeared, leaving the man afraid that he will be left penniless. Holmes agrees to take the case and he and Watson dig deep into the murky past of this complex family.