Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Review of "Aetheric Mechanics: A Graphic Novella," by Warren Ellis

 Review of

Aetheric Mechanics: A Graphic Novella, by Warren Ellis, ISBN 1592910483

Five out of five stars

 Alternate history and science fiction combined

 The opening page looks like a scene from England in or at the end of World War One. The caption reads, “March 1907 Royal Albert Docks London,” and the ship is a troopship. The uniforms the men are wearing are standard British army and navy of the time.

 However, the context is dramatically altered on page 4, when a few men get on a circular platform and it flies away. Britain is at war with a country called Ruritania and the planes of that country routinely fly over British skies. Humanity has also left Earth and traveled to other planets, there is the statement, “American privateers spotted around Mars.” However, despite the unusual context, this story is basically a modification of the Sherlock Holmes tales.

 The main character in the opening captions is Doctor Richard Watcham, returning from a tour of duty at the front. He comes back to familiar territory, Dilke Street in London, where he rooms with his old friend Sax Raker. Raker is the greatest amateur detective, often called in to solve the toughest cases.

 A man is found dead in the street and Raker is called to investigate. Watcham goes with him and the case revolves around people skilled in the area of aetheric mechanics, the science behind flight. Raker smokes a curved pipe and has the same detached manner to most of the world that Holmes had.

 The mystery is a deep one and involves a scientific cabal as well as the ongoing war with Ruritania. It is an odd story, one that fans of Sherlock Holmes will appreciate. However, readers unfamiliar with the fundamentals of the Holmes character may not be able to appreciate the similarities. The sight of gentlemen of London at the turn of the century getting into a cab that hovers over the street was quite amusing.

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