Steampunk: Morlock Nights

A University colleague (thanks Peter) recommended to me as I started to write my MA dissertation to read K.W. Jeter’s Morlock Night but as time became pressing I never got round to it. Also, Jeter’s novel didn’t really fall into the areas of Colonialism in H.G. Wells and Christopher Priest I was looking at. Thankfully, for my birthday I received a copy and have spent most of the day reading it. From this one novel, and Jeter’s coining of the term ‘steampunk’ along with the writings of his counterparts, Tim Powers and James Blaylock, you can trace the last thirty years of this SF movement. There is a wonderful beauty of image to Jeter’s writing and the image of Wells, with some Colonial tones leaking through, bounces through the text. Yet, it is the startling world and science of the future London that is breathtaking, the weaving in of the Arthur legend and the role of a dominant female character, in the shape of Tafe, which breaks the conventions of the adventure novel (this novel does owe more to this genre and the likes of Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs shine through). You can see where Priest’s Space Machine came from and many more who have blended the past, the present and the future. It’s a good read, memorable and even though I have come to the end of my dissertation, I am tempted to mention it in passing in the conclusion. What’s to lose?

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