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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

Harm's Way

Copyright 1993 by Colin Greenland

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Good (3/5)

I first read this in July 1994.

In an alternate universe, where space really is filled with aether (and where, as far as I can tell) gravity behaves somewhat differently), The British Empire never faded. Indeed it now occupies the solar system, meeting and subjugating aliens and colonising the planets and moons. Great trading ships sail through space, while on the ground those not blessed with gentle birth labour and slave.

Little Sophie Farthing lives with her father, a nightwatchman for High Haven's space docks. She cleans and cooks and fetchs his opium. She listens to his waking dreams of fantastic voyages and fabulous monsters, and hates them all because they are nothing of the real, tough and hopeless world in which she lives.

But then she meets a strange and powerful gentleman who seems to recognise her, and her life changes - she smuggles herself upon a spaceship and travels to Earth. but in this, and in her subsequent travels, she is very much in Harm's Way.

I bought this book because of the title even though I wasn't particularly keen on the subject matter. But what a surprise! It's a Victorian adventure wherein our Sophie displays unexpected depths in her encounters with strange worlds and stranger characters, and all the time there is this wonderful Vistorian universe floating around in the background - look at the enchanting requirements for space travel: a glass-globed space helmet, a thick coat and nitrox lozenges.

This is magical. Read it. Especially if you've also read the very different "The Difference Engine".

Loaded on the 31st May 2001.
Cover of Harm's Way

Reviews of other works by Colin Greenland:
Seasons Of Plenty