Friday, 9 October 2015

Chapter 15 - Nuclear Powered Victorians

I was 11 in 1993 and two things kick-started my interest in Steampunk. The first was a showing on British television of Hayao Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky and the second was seeing the cover and reading the description for Anti-Ice by Stephen Baxter. I sadly didn't get to read the book until many years later but when I did I enjoyed the alternative 19th Century it presented (I also didn't get to see Castle in the Sky again till many years later, but that is not a story for here) 

I love alternative histories, it is always so much fun seeing what could have happened if things had gone differently. Anti-Ice asks what if the 19th Century British discovered a substance (the "Anti-Ice") that generates energy analogous to nuclear power. The answers are obvious: not only do they have technology far beyond the same period in our reality, including space travel, but also the Crimean War is ended by the atomic bombing of Sevastopol. Many real world personalities appear throughout novel: most notably William Gladstone and Otto Von Bismarck. Victoria herself is absent from this world as she chose to abdicate after Prince Albert's death, instead Edward VII has become king much earlier than in reality. The Franco-Prussian War is also featured in the novel,of course with a much different outcome. 

If people are looking for a good introduction to Steampunk fiction, this is a excellent book to pick up. I enjoyed Baxter's alternative history and the characters that fill it. Yes it has all the weird science that we expect of the genre but it seeing how the world is effected by this science is the main draw for me. 

The Book is OOP but you should be able to pick it up for a reasonable price on amazon (US | UK) or ebay.

There is also a short story anthology ebook entitled Newton's Aliens: Tales From the Anti-Ice Universe. (US | UK). I have yet to read this but when I do I will review it on the blog. 

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