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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews


Copyright 1993 by Stephen Baxter

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Mediocre (2/5)

I first read this in July 1994 and most recently on the 29th October 2004

In an alternate 19th Century, the discovery of the phenomenally explosive anti-ice has led to a resurgence in British industrial and military power, and a consequent expansion of Empire

Now it's not steam trains that found this Industrial Revolution this world. It's the British engineered anti-ice, "Light Rail" monorails, bridging the channel and stretching across Continental Europe to carry the people and cargo of the modern world and to stand as a symbol of Imperial power.

Our hero is Ned, a thoroughly privileged and prejudiced young man. He is caught up in a world-shaking adventure including, yes of course, a trip to the moon. After all if you are going to have a resurgent Empire in a homage to Jules Verne, you can't really resist slipping that one in.

In the course of these events he loves and loses, and gains some awareness of the world outside his blinkered lifestyle.

This is a delightful romp through an alternate 19th Century world dominated by a British Empire. It's a British Empire that is not based on profitable trade, but on the exclusive control of a unique resource. However although the rationale is somewhat different (although arguably it's not), the net effect is what you'd expect: seen from British eyes the world is transformed under a better, more British, vision. Seen from the viewpoints of foreigners and of the British lower classes, it is a less laudable transformation.

It's a thoroughly enjoyable read for the British and probably hilariously funny for the French.

Loaded on the 1st May 2006.
Cover of Anti-Ice
Cover art by HarperCollins

Reviews of other works by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter:
The Light Of Other Days

Reviews of other works by Stephen Baxter:
Timelike Infinity
Vacuum Diagrmas