Friday, May 7, 2010

2010 Hugo nominee, novelette: "One of Our Bastards is Missing" by Paul Cornell (The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction: Volume Three)

It’s Paul Cornell week here. In this story, Cornell brings the same manic energy to prose that he brought to comics in Captain Britain and MI:13.

The setting is a bit mysterious. It’s a parallel universe with futuristic technology, but nineteenth-century politics. The British, Prussian and Ottoman Empires, among others, span the solar system while their royal families intrigue. British soldier/secret agent Jonathan Hamilton is in the midst of it all, and in this story he investigates an attempt to kidnap the Princess Elizabeth.

There seems to be some sort of strange quantum mechanics going on (and in this universe, Newton seems to have been much more aware of quantum physics), but overall, the laws of this world remain a bit unclear, and I actually think that’s a problem with the story. I love the basic idea behind the setting, but I need to know more about it to really get into these stories. Especially considering that this is basically a standard adventure plot, I can’t see any story reason to obscure the world (other than an effort to avoid bulky exposition). Hamilton himself is a bit standard as well. He’s a tough and wily adventurer with a good heart but a ruthless disposition…we’ve seen the sort before. There’s also more of Cornell’s admitted obsession with British character (also seen extensively in Captain Britain).

So, it’s a fun story for what it is, but, both the world and the central character are lacking in details.

You can read it for yourself for free here.

Grade: B-

No comments:

Post a Comment