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Book Review

Book Cover

A Red Sun Also Rises (Hardback)


Author: Mark Hodder
Del Rey
RRP: £16.99
ISBN: 978 0 091 94981 5
Available 17 January 2013

Aiden Fleischer is ill equipped to fulfil the role of priest, even he is unconvinced. All that changes when he takes in Clarissa Stark, a remarkably well educated young woman, whose twisted body hides a keen intellect. When a new family of ruffians move into the area, the two are forced to flee with Aiden taking a post as a missionary. Through a strange series of events the two find themselves transported to the planet inhabited by the Yatsill, a race of mimics. When they start to mimic Victorian culture, what starts as an amusing game soon threatens to turn into civil war...

A Red Sun Also Rises is a new science fantasy novel by Mark Hodder. He is the author of the Burton & Swinburne steampunk trilogy.

The book mimics the type of proto science fiction which used to be popular in the Victorian era and after. Probably the two best exponents of this genre were H.G. Wells (1866 - 1946) and Edger Rich Burroughs (1875 - 1950). Recently this type of tale is undergoing a renaissance, with more books published, more television series being set around the turn of the century and the release of the overly long John Carter (2012).

Hodder uses many of the tropes of the Victorian novel, even including a prologue which purports that the story is not Hodder’s, but something rescued from a sunken vessel, Hodder has only updated the language and idioms. That said, the book is written very much in the Victorian style.

The original point of these novels was to present the reader with the wonders and grotesques of a new world to explore and with Ptallaya and its insect inhabitant, the Yatsill, Hodden has done a remarkable job of world creation, producing a weird land designed for high adventure.

If this was all the book was about it would be little more than a travelogue, so Hodder throws in a little Pitch Black (2000) action with things becoming decidedly nasty when the sun goes down.

Hodder has created two strong characters in Fleischer and Stark; the former narrates the book, charting his journey to uncertain clergyman to the unwitting creator of a whole culture. Strong though Fleischer is Stark is the stronger character, a Victorian woman, resilient, independent and intelligent, even though she is burdened with a hunched back, sensitivity to light and having been made a pauper. Outcast in her own land the two are accepted by the Yatsill. Whereas Fleischer reacts with bemusement, Stark sees only wonder and more opportunities to expand her knowledge.

The writing can become dense at times and some of the concepts feel a little laboured, but overall this is an extremely well written novel, well worth picking up.


Charles Packer

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