Review: Time's Arrow (Pax Britannia) / Author: Jonathan Green / Publisher: Abaddon Books / Release Date: Out Now
The Pax Britannia series has the most curious effect on me. Upon completing the latest, I always find myself saying, “What utter balderdash” (or words to that effect), whilst grinning from ear to ear. This is because they’re quintessential steampunk: wild flights of fancy filled with action, weirdness, alternate history and fun.
Make no mistake; what we have here is not some thoughtful examination of how a more technologically advanced Victorian society would evolve, nor is it a homage to the heroes of the age. This is an escapade through time and space, filled with mechanically-enhanced apes, rocket-powered bicycles, desperate struggles through the streets of Paris and buckets and buckets of pop culture references. This is silly fun at its best, and it gets to the heart of the steampunk genre. It doesn’t take itself seriously, isn’t at all bothered about history and simply exists to be the wildest tale it can be.
Green’s protagonist, Ulysses Quicksilver, continues to be as endearing as he is ridiculous. Though the character often borders on parody, Time’s Arrow never indulges itself in being too self-referential or knowing; Jonathan Green’s key talent lies in understanding exactly what the reader wants and delivering it in such a way that the reader never expects it. Time’s Arrow is part of an ongoing series, and fans of Ulysses Quicksilver will be delighted to learn that the books continue to stay as strong as ever. Though this works as a standalone novel, it is much more fun if you know who some of the key characters are from the start.
This is a pun-fueled, fun-filled romp for people who like wearing the colour brown and decorating everything they own with cogs. It’s also an effortless read and fairly short. It’s ideal reading for goggle-wearing geeks who have a long and boring trip ahead of them, especially if it happens to be on a steam train.