Among other things, I like me a bit of a steam punk. Which is to say i find the whole idea of stream driven tech and mad gadgets in alternative history both wonderfully inventive and alluring.
That said, I am generally firmly rooted in British steam punk, so was not entirely sure what to expect of an American take on the genre. Woven through with liberal amounts of Alice in Wonderland. Though in fairness this may draw form Louise Carol’s classic in places, it does so on over drive in many respects.
All the characters you would perhaps expect to be here are here. Though with dramatic twists to their original selves.
The Mad Hatter, for example is a mad scientist inventor who’s hat is as much a multi story storage device as a piece of head wear.
The white rabbit, who is of course perpetually late, is not one but many, an army of rabbits in fact forming the backbone of the queen of New York’s armies. While the Cheshire cat is in many ways the instant telegram of the realm, its multiple interchangeable copies moving messages between the palace and other nobles, with a smile.
The red queen is mad, the other queen is madder, And New York fights Texas for the wealth of Kentucky coal.
Then there is Alice herself, not the curious school girl of Lewis Carroll’s classic , but a prostitute turned would-be assassin who’s most pervasive talent involves the use of melted chocolate. She gets caught up in a series of bizarre plots to assassinate various major figures, generally for reasons that have more to do with sex than politics.
This is, to put it mildly, an utterly mad novel. It rolls along from one plot point to another and never lets those plots get in the way of the story. It doesn’t so much follow a plot as throw one at you as a way to move the story from one ridiculous escapade to another. There is sex all over the place without it ever been erotica, instead it’s more like slap stick and sea side postcards. it is however undeniably ridiculous fun. Mad, ridiculous fun. It will make you laugh, if you want to laugh. And beyond that you will have forgotten the plot it five minutes after you finish reading it. You’ll probably remember the laughing all the same.