Book 47 of 52: "The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack" by Mark Hodder

This book is Mark Hodder’s sequel to “The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man,” which I read last week.  Adventurers Sir Richard Burton and Algernon Swinburne are back, this time facing down a rogue time traveler!

This is where the fact that I’ve accidentally read a future book in this series comes back to bite me.  While I don’t remember all the details, I do have some idea what’s going to happen to Edward Oxford, our time traveler from the future, and it’s sometimes a little tough to read his doomed story.  Of course, Hodder makes it pretty clear that the poor fellow’s doomed from the start, so it doesn’t totally overshadow the story.
In reading this book, plus previous steampunk adventures, I’ve come to recognize that, for a story to be steampunk, it needs several elements:

1. It must be set in Victorian England.
2. It must feature at least a couple real-life famous individuals from history as characters, whether those be authors (H.G. Wells), scientists (Darwin, Galton), inventors (Babbage), or other famous folks.
3. There must be some advancement of technology, often using ridiculous principles that were only disproven later (the idea of the ether, clockwork contrivances, strange genetic breeding, etc.).

Mark Hodder certainly succeeds in hitting all three of these criteria!

On one hand, steampunk can be fun to read because it’s a new spin on science fiction – but still within a set universe that I’ve come to know at least somewhat well.  But on the other hand, it’s sometimes frustrating to read about these characters, with nothing more than cogs and springs, accomplishing things that we still cannot do, with all of our advanced technology, today.

It’s certainly an escape from our world, at least!

Time to read: 5 hours.

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