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Goat Heads and Sand Burrs, P. Kirby's Reading Blog

The good, bad, and fugly books I've read.
Affinity Bridge - George Mann It's happened. I think I've hit "zombie overload."

I mean, I love zombies. They're stupid, rotting schlubs, usually with a taste for human flesh. Unlike vampires, they aren't complicated by stuff like sex appeal and angst. Thus far, there have been no zombies that glitter in sunlight. (Although, given the comic potential, you could have a herd of shambling undead attack a glitter factory and emerge in all their shining glory into the sunlight. Wouldn't that be a hoot?)

The Affinity Bridge, like just about every other steampunkish novel out at the moment, comes fully equipped with the requisite number of putrescent undead. Now maybe it's because the novel is pleasant but not emotionally engaging, but the zombies, excuse me, "revenants," felt as though they'd been included because, "It's what all the fashionable steampunk writers are doing."

It also includes another rather overused steampunk trope, the airship. Here, at least, it is employed as a major plot point, but it would be nice if once, just once (or twice, or thrice) steampunk didn't mean zombies and airships.

I'm reviewing this about two or three weeks after I finished reading, and already most of the plot points have been erased by my mind's overzealous editor. My recollection of the story is that it involves an detective, Sir Maurice Newberry, his girl Friday, Veronica Hobbes. Maurice is a hero in the vein of Sherlock Holmes, right down to the laudanum addiction. The problem is, he's no Robert Downey Jr. and his kinda-sorta-flirtation with Veronica lacks the chemistry of the bromance between Downey and Jude Law.

Er, no, I didn't expect it a cinematic approach to storytelling. But nevertheless, the rather tepid characterization in the novel, leaves a hankering for something a bit more dynamic.

On the positive side, Veronica is a fun character, the anachronistic strong, capable, independent woman in an otherwise patriarchal society. She seems to have a lot more depth than Maurice. Though there's a faint whiff of attraction between her and Maurice, she is given more to do than simply stare at Maurice with adoring eyes. The basic plot--crash of a airship that seems to be related both to the revenants and a ghostly blue policeman--is entertaining. The action sequences are exciting: Maurice does have an over-the-top Hollywood hero way of taking a licking and keeping on ticking. Dare I say, almost superhuman?

A fun book, but it was too much of a pastiche of steampunk cliches to be memorable.