Review copy provided by Tor.
There is a line about 2/3 of the way through this book: “One could glimpse horror in a can of soup.” And I read it, and I thought, well, you could, that’s clear enough.
This is a stand-alone, not going along with the Gun and the Line books, and yet like those it is just about as far out on the edge of dark fantasy with a drumbeat of dark dark gloom despair woe woe gloom despair as I have any patience for. Most of Gilman’s characters do not have very functional relationships with each other. There is a bit of the middle where the really quite sensible option would have been for the people who are romantically involved to break up with each other, and I honestly can’t tell you why they didn’t. (Because it would have messed up the plot. But other than that.)
I kept reading this book. Gilman’s prose is readable, very readable. On the sentence level, I can always go on with him. And I always think, “Well, maybe this time–” And then no. Not this time. Not any time. No no no no. This one is about late nineteenth century Britain and its fantasmagorical notions of the spheres, Mars in particular but all of them really–and I am interested in that. I am interested in the ways that fantasy can take that on, can take that different places than the world did. Secret societies, secret computing machines and their alternate results, this is of interest to me! But then the drumbeat of Felix Gilman ground it into muck, as he always does, because that’s how he thinks books go.
I really need to remember this. Some of you like that sort of thing, and more power to you; he does it quite well, and here is where you can find it.