Jason Pettus's Reviews > Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon

Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon by Mark Hodder
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's review
Apr 12, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary, sci-fi, weird, alt-history, smart-nerdy
Read in April, 2012

(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

This is the third volume now of Mark Hodder's steampunk series, in which the real-life Victorian explorer Richard Francis Burton and libertine artist Algernon Swinburne fictionally team up for a series of adventures in an alt-history 19th century, and nicely illustrates the problem with missing the first title in such a series when it comes to following along with the rest; for while I didn't seem to have much problem following along with the second volume, The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man, mostly I suspect because it didn't contain much background material about the first volume, this third chapter contains just a huge infodump about the book that started it all (The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack, that is), a complicated backstory that involves time travel, multiple possible histories, and a sacred prehistoric meteorite that holds the key to the far-future quantum mechanics that are causing all the space-time-hopping messes in the first place (or, um, something like that), and I have to confess that I had a hard time simply trying to keep up with all the complex exposition. (Also, series fans, be aware that Hodder seems to have grown tired of the entire premise of Swinburne playing Dr. Watson to Burton's Sherlock Holmes, and that this third volume is mostly a Burton adventure with a few drunken wisecracks by Swinburne randomly thrown in here and there.) Granted, this universe is a much more original and creepy vision than most steampunk novels, the main reason to read the books in the first place -- in particular I really love the idea of genetic engineering being mastered long before electronics, so that the streets and skies are filled with giant dead bugs whose hollow exoskeletons are used as industrialized human vehicles -- but I also have to confess that by not getting hooked on this series from its start, I'm finding it increasingly difficult with each new volume to stay emotionally connected to the proceedings, the problem in a nutshell with all these endless so-so series that sci-fi publishers love putting out. It should be kept in mind when deciding for yourself whether or not to pick up a copy.

Out of 10: 8.2
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aPriL does feral sometimes I'm putting in a request for the first of his series after reading your review.

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