For the uninitiated, steampunk is a niche genre with a massive following. The genre tells stories set in an alternative 19th century where modern or futuristic technology exists, often powered by steam. If you have not read much steampunk then this first installment in the Sedgewick Papers, a series of chapbooks heading to Amazon over the next year, is the perfect introduction.
The Angels of the Abyss is about two Victorian gentlemen, Professor Sedgewick and his loyal friend Cadwallander, who venture into space and discover an abandoned ship overrun by parasitic angelic aliens. The plot is kept simple (this is a chapbook after all) but the joy here is to be found in Iain Grant's superb grasp of the steampunk tone.
There are plenty of fantastic lines which capture both the thorough Britishness of a Victorian gentleman serving Queen Victoria's Empire and also the otherworldliness of a supernatural, science-fiction adventure. Better yet, the two are often combined for comedic effect. For instance:
'"She's French!" exclaimed Lieutenant Moore, paradoxically appalled to find that this alien being also had the impudence to be a foreigner.'
And also: 'I attacked the angel much as a drunken lumberjack might attack a tree.'
The chapbook's second great strength is in the Sherlock-Watson relationship between Sedgewick and Cadwallander, a Englishman and a Welshman. The latter narrates the story, full of love and admiration for the ingenious Sedgewick, although happily Cadwallander gets a few heroic moments of his own. The relationship is also reminiscent of the Doctor and his many companions, an apt comparison considering the duo battle angels in space.
It is a shame that the adventure is over so quickly but thankfully the second chapbook, The Pearl of Tharsis, is out in April 2014. I am certainly keen to read more of Sedgewick and Cadwallander's adventures.
The Angels of the Abyss is available for just 77p for Kindle.