Review – Seminal Steampunk Text

August 2, 2011 - 2:26 am No Comments

Morlock Night

Author:  K W Jeter 

Publisher: Angry Robot

Price:  £7.99 (Paperback)

Page count:  301pp (includes Introduction & Afterword)

Reviewer:  Theresa Derwin

From the writer who coined the phrase ‘Steampunk’ comes; Morlock Night. Originally published in 1979, this 2011 reprint by Angry Robot comes with a glorious front cover, an Introduction by fellow Steampunk author Tim Powers and an after word by academic & Steampunk/SF writer Adam Roberts. And that’s just for starters. What you have here is the seminal Steampunk text by the Godfather of Steampunk itself.

A sequel to H. G. Well’s The Time Machine this novel starts on the evening of The Traveller’s narrative to his friends as he tells them of his adventures with the Morlock and his Eloi love Weena.  Following on, rather loosely, from the Wellsian classic, Morlock Night starts as Mr. Edwin Hocker leaves the Traveller’s house on the same evening and is accosted by a mysterious stranger known as Dr. Ambrose who transports Hocker to an alternative 1892 over run by the Morlocks, a barren, rubble strewn post apocalyptic ‘present’ where he meets the far too modern female Tafe, who saves his life.

In the blink of an eye Hocker is transported back to his contemporary present, a Morlock-less present, where he is informed by Dr Ambrose that he and modern woman Tafe must join forces to prevent the Morlocks, currently hidden in theLondonsewers from conqueringLondon, then the world. Then begins the adventure, when Hocker and Tafe must help Ambrose rescue a reincarnated King Arthur from abduction and hunt down three missing copies of the sword Excalibur. And that’s within the first few chapters! Still with me? Good!

Insane it might be, but that is what makes Morlock Night so bloody good. Combining all of the wonderful elements found in Steampunk; historical characters and settings, infernal devices such as submarines and rolling adventure, this novel is indeed a stunning example of Steampunk and a veritable visual feast.    

The characters and settings literally leap off the page and the darkened, rotten sewers that Jeter shows us at the heart ofLondonare murky yet glorious.  And this is no mere copy of Well’s original. As all good creations should, the Morlocks have evolved. We encounter a sub-species of Morlocks who can talk, wear shades to hide from the light and fight wars with military prowess, as well as the traditional Morlocks seen in Well’s novel; guttural and Neanderthal.

Jeter has created a fantastic vision, and whilst not perfect, must be read by all fans of Steampunk or decent SF Literature for that matter. Simply sublime.

If you want to know more about Angry Robot’s latest projects take a look at their website. To find out about K W Jeter, all you need do is Google.

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