Friday, June 28, 2013


I finished reading A RED SUN ALSO RISES (2012) by British science fiction author Mark Hodder the other day. It's the first book by Hodder I've read but it won't be the last.

RED SUN is a steam-punk "sword and planet" story in which a British vicar and his female sexton are sent as missionaries from Victorian London to a remote island in the South Pacific. The natives practice cannibalistic rituals and sacrifices and guess who's on the menu?

But before Aiden Fleischer and Clarissa Stark can be offered up to the dark gods, a space/time portal opens up above the island and transports the duo to a distant planet. Aiden is suffering from a crisis of faith and is not sure if he's responsible for the Jack the Ripper murders back on earth (he's not). Clarissa, whose body was horribly deformed on earth, is cured of her crippling injuries on the alien world and emerges as a stunning beauty (of course).

The natives of the planet are mimetic. They collectively scan Clarissa's mind and, based on what they find there, recreate Victorian London on their world in a matter of days. But the twin suns are about to set and the red giant is about to rise and with the dawn come the Blood Gods.

There's more, much more including revelations about the true nature of the aliens and imprisonment and escape from a massive crystalline island. The real villain is finally revealed along with his nefarious scheme and it's up to Aiden, Clarissa and their alien allies to turn back the invasion of our world. The climatic battle is quite cinematic and the weapons used are an intriguing mix of steam punk tanks and airships. Our heroes win the day but Aiden is transported back to earth where World War II is now being waged. While voyaging back to England his ship is sunk by a Nazi submarine and he loses the crystal that will facilitate his return to Clarissa and his new found home planet. But fear not for Aiden Fleischer. He won't have trouble finding his missing crystal for it seems there are some mighty strange things happening in a triangular portion of the Atlantic Ocean near Bermuda. To be continued...

A RED SUN ALSO RISES is squarely in the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs' A PRINCESS OF MARS, the first novel in his John Carter of Mars series. It takes a while to get going and there's a lot of travelogue type narration describing the alien world and its' inhabitants. The story picks up steam (pun intended) about halfway through and the climax is a thrilling page-turner with vividly described action set pieces. I enjoyed  RED SUN and look forward to reading the further adventures of Aiden and Clarissa. Recommended.

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