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message 1: by Candiss (new)

Candiss (tantara) | 1207 comments Here's a general topic for those who have finished reading The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder.

Caution: Spoilers highly likely!

message 2: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) I was wondering what everyone thought about the different London/England that existed. Do you feel that it was done well or did it not make sense?

Does the techniology interact well with the characters? What did you think of the use of real people?

message 3: by Deedee (last edited Jul 11, 2011 08:14PM) (new)

Deedee | 136 comments I was wondering what everyone thought about the different London/England that existed. Do you feel that it was done well ....

I felt that it was done well. The abundance of smog related to steam engines was a nice mood-setting touch.

The bio-technology contributed to the strangeness of the surroundings .... as in: "Do you honestly think the world should have talking orangutans in it? Isn't it obvous to you that something is desperately wrong?" LOL of course the 19th century characters think it is completely normal for there to be talking orangutans.

Using real people in the novel added to the "victorian-ish" of it all. I object (mildly) to Charles Darwin's portrayal but otherwise found it very entertaining.

I looked up Swinburne on the internet -- apparently he was an eccentric poetic genius of the 19th century. Hard to tell if Hodder's portrayal of him is anything like the what the actual poet was like.

What do you think of the time travel aspects of the novel?

message 4: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) I'm usually put off about time travel. Too often it is done too much, but here, it didn't bother me because it worked.

From what I understand of Swinburne, Hodder's pretty on target.

message 5: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Jul 13, 2011 07:38AM) (new)

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) I won't belabor this as I know a lot liked it and I don't want to be a "buzz kill". I just didn't care for it, I saw a lot of it coming. But to be fair, I don't seem to be a steam-punk fan. I've picked up several books I thought I would/should like but didn't.

message 6: by Deedee (new)

Deedee | 136 comments The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Burton & Swinburne #1) is the quintessential steampunk novel. If you don't like steampunk, then you would probably not like this novel. However, if you like steampunk, this novel has it all: steam-powered transportation devices (like a car and also personal flying rotor-chairs); genetically altered animals (talking orangatangs, talking parakeet messenger birds that insult everyone as they deliver messages); life in an alternate 19th century London, England environment; historical characters (albeit with slightly different characteristics); obsession with clocks and time (and time travel!). Every few chapters, the author introduces another steampunk element. And yet, even with all of these steampunk trappings splashed throughout the novel, the author remembers to tell a story that hangs together (as long as the reader is willing to suspend disbelief in insulting, talking parrots and time travel.)

What steampunk elements do y'all see in the novel, and do you think they are well-integrated in the novel?

colleen the convivial curmudgeon (blackrose13) I finished this today - here's my review.

I wasn't all that impressed, and it has nothing to do with the steampunkness of the book. It had more to do with the fact that I felt there was a lot of telling over showing, huge chunks of exposition, and even the classic "villain revealing his plans" schtick - which is so tired.

I liked that it was a sort of grittier version of the past than we usually see in some of these stories, which tend to be romanticized, but I also didn't really feel an overwhelming sense of periodness from the book. The writing was just too modern for a "period" book, I suppose.

I also agree with Mike in that I saw a lot of it coming, and I disliked the part where we reviewed the whole story from Jack's perspective, being as I think we could put it together ourselves quite handily enough.

Anyway - I don't really know that much about the historical characters that were used in the story - aside from what I gleaned from the glossary thing at the end of the book and a quick scan of Wikipedia - so using actual characters instead of made up ones didn't really have all that much of an impact on me.

I did think it had some interesting ideas. To take not just the steam-powered technology but also the notion of evolution and genetics in the direction he went is something I hadn't seen before in quite this way, so that was kind of cool. And I did generally end up liking the characters.

As for the time travel aspect - well, as above, I did figure it out well before it was revealed. I thought it was kind of an interesting idea, but I'm not a huge fan of time travel and its paradoxes in general.

Mike - in fairness, I just don't think this is all that well-written. You shouldn't blame it on the genre. I quite love the idea of steampunk, but haven't read all that many good ones myself, either. I still consider myself a fan, though. Can't blame the idea for the pure execution therein. ;)

message 8: by Pickle (new)

Pickle | 202 comments Just finished and i thought it was a very enjoyable read, quite light hearted and i found myself on google looking up each of the characters that appeared in the book.

My personal favourtire was Charles Swinburne who brought a smile to my face during the book, a great character.

It was nice to read a book with a simple story and didnt take itself too seriously. I will be looking for his second book when its payday.

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) I'm glad for you who liked it... Like I said, just couldn't really get into it. I'll include my review ( for those who want to read it. If not,cool, I won't be insulted. LOL

message 10: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) I liked your review Mike. I can understand how people don't like it. I think one of the reasons I enjoyed it is that I loved watching how Hodder explained Spring Heeled Jack as well as the other differences in the rest of the real historical figures.

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) I try to be far. Sometimes I run on a book that I "really" dislike and I end up "savaging" it a bit, but that's unusual. As I've said, it just seems among other things I can never get into steam punk. I'll often like the sound of a book or it's idea, but so far I've never really gotten into one... Oh well.

message 12: by Nick (new)

Nick (doily) | 966 comments I just read the book -- quite a slow starter I am -- and I have to go down in the camp of those who liked it. This is unusual for me, as I don't usually like time travel stories, especially when they involve the tired cliche of changing history. But unlike some of these other reviewers I have read a bit about Burton and Speke, and it was interesting to me the way they were used at the beginning of the book with just little touches of non-history thrown in -- and then the parallel history really takes off, --- and that was cool.

I read a lot of late Victorian/early modern stuff -- I often call "The Turn of the Screw" my favorite fantasy novel. But I'm not that into steampunk -- though perhaps this read could make me search out some more.

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