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Red Wheels Turning Paperback – July 23, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: j-views (July 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4990516567
  • ISBN-13: 978-4990516567
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,312,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Author

Red Wheels Turning is set in the same timeline as Beneath Gray Skies, a few years before the events described there. This story introduces Brian Finch-Malloy, described by one reviewer of Beneath Gray Skies as "a 1920s James Bond".
The Netopyr actually existed much as described here. An amazing piece of Russian engineering, it never became a practical weapon put into production, for many of the reasons that Brian and Harry point out. However, it remains one of the most amazing objects in the history of warfare, seemingly more a product of the Middle Ages than the twentieth century. The Zaamurets armoured train also existed in real life. There seem to be remarkably few detailed descriptions of these vehicles, though, so I have been forced to invent some details, which I hope retain consistency with the sparse known facts. Of course, there may be more in Russian, which is a language I do not read with any fluency.
Since no Americans (or Confederates) appear on-stage in this novel, I have used British English throughout (my native version of the language). I hope this doesn't upset my American readers too much.
A note on units
In real life, pre-Revolutionary Russia used its own units; poods, versts, and so on, at the time that Red Wheels Turning is set, and only adopted the metric system in 1924. Since most readers will be unfamiliar with these units of measurement, I have given metric (or in some cases, Imperial) equivalents.
As always, thanks are due to my wife, Yoshiko, for her patience while I churn out my books. To all my friends, the physical friends whom I know personally, as well as my e-friends on Twitter and Facebook, thanks for your comments and encouragement. Simon Varnam in particular has once again lent me his eyes and ears to discover my errors of style and fact. Any still remaining are my responsibility, not his.

More About the Author

Hugh Ashton was born in the UK in 1956. After graduating from the University of Cambridge, he worked in a variety of jobs, including security guard, publisher's assistant, and running an independent record label, before coming to rest in the field of information technology, where he assisted perplexed users of computers and wrote explanations to guide them through the problems they encountered.

A long-standing interest in Japan led him to emigrate to that country in 1988, where he has remained ever since; writing instruction manuals for a variety of consumer products, assisting with IT-related projects at banks and financial institutions, and researching and writing industry reports on the Japanese and Asian financial industries. Some of the knowledge he has gained in these fields formed the background for At the Sharpe End, his second novel.

He has published volumes of Sherlock Holmes mysteries with Inknbeans Press of California: Tales from the Deed Box of John H. Watson MD, More from the Deed Box of John H. Watson MD, Secrets from the Deed Box of John H Watson MD, The Darlington Substitution, Notes from the Dispatch-Box of John H. Watson MD, Further Notes from the Dispatch-Box of John H. Watson MD, The Death of Cardinal Tosca, The Reigate Poisoning Case: Concluded, and Without My Boswell; all in the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The three "Deed Box" collections have been collected and printed together in a handsome hardback edition - The Deed Box of John H. Watson MD.

Inknbeans has also published his collection of short stories set in Japan, Tales of Old Japanese, featuring the culture and habits of the older generation of Japanese, as well as the children's detective stories, illustrated by Andy Boerger, entitled Sherlock Ferret and the Missing Necklace and Sherlock Ferret and the Multiplying Masterpieces.

His first published novel, Beneath Gray Skies, is an alternative history set in a "past that never happened", where the Civil War was never fought.

His second novel, At the Sharpe End, features an expatriate consultant living in Tokyo, Kenneth Sharpe, who finds himself thrust into a world of violence and high finance that takes him by surprise. This has been re-published by Inknbeans Press together with eerily prophetic extracts from a first draft, describing a Japanese earthquake and resulting nuclear accident.

His third novel, Red Wheels Turning, takes some of the characters of Beneath Gray Skies, and sets them in the background of Tsarist Russia, where a battle of wits takes place to control the secret Russian wonder weapons that could win the war for the Allies.

Hugh currently lives with his wife Yoshiko in the old town of Kamakura to the south of Tokyo, where he is working on future novels and stories.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Percival Constantine on March 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Primarily, when we think of spy fiction, we think of the Cold War and beyond. After all, that's when the world's spy agencies really came to prominence and managed to secure a seemingly unbreakable hold. It's not so often that we get to see spy fiction set in another era.

Hugh Ashton's Red Wheels Turning is exactly that, providing us a spy story set in the first World War. More than that, it provides us with an alternate world, one in which America's Civil War never happened and there actually is a Confederate States of America. However, that merely serves as the backdrop. It was, apparently, a factor in Ashton's Beneath Gray Skies, which Red Wheels Turning is a prequel to.

Ashton provides a great protagonist with Brian Finch-Malloy, a British agent tasked with preventing two of Tsarist Russia's weapons of war, the Netopyr and the Zaamurets, from falling into the hands of sinister Bolshevik agent Kolinski.

The real treat of the book for me was watching how all the spying and back-stabbing occurred in a classic setting. While in these days, some of the tactics employed by Kolinski probably wouldn't work as well, it is perfectly believable that they'd work flawlessly in a Russia on the verge of revolution.

Ashton is most known for his work on Sherlock Holmes, but he proves with Red Wheels turning that he's capable of building his own imaginative worlds and populating them with fascinating characters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ralph E. Vaughan on July 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
Although I have, in general, gravitated away from any science fiction written after after the 1970s, I still love alternate history novels and usually always enjoy reading them, at least on some level. Writers trying to write a novel in a world where history went sideways often make mistakes -- they pivot the alteration of history around some trivial event (one writer based the changing of history on a stubbed toe) or one that is so obscure that it escapes even the professional historian; they have the narrator pinpoint the one event that made everything change as the characters would actually know they are in an alternate world; they create an alternate-history world for the sole purpose of sending a ham-handed message about our own world, sacrificing story-telling for the sake of ideology (if you want to send a message, call Western Union); or, having spent so very much time researching and world building, they try to make the setting the star of the novel, reducing the characters to mere props. Happily, Hugh Ashton makes none of those mistakes in "Red Wheels Turning," which takes place around the time of the Great War, mostly in Russia.

Above all, the novel is a very exciting adventure story set in a fascinating world that is like our own in many ways, and yet fundamentally different in ways the reader is often left to figure out on his own -- some are fairly obvious, such as the existence of the Confederate States of America, while others are subtle, such as the political climate of Russia. The protagonist is Lt Brian Finch-Malloy, a troublemaker plucked from the trenches to work for the hush-hush chappies who inhabit various anonymous offices in Whitehall.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Trusten on January 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this novel based on another reader's review. Ergo, only fair I put my own two cents out there.
I really enjoyed this novel, so much so, that I bought a second one by he same author and am reading it now. The author presents a very enjoyable alternate history in which the Confederate States of America successfully secedes, but that is nothing but a dropped reference in this novel. In Red Wheels Turning, the protagonist, Bloody Brian, has to investigate a superweapon (tank-like vehicle) being made in secret by the imperial Russians, in the midst of WWI.
I do not want to drop anymore of the story and ruin your enjoyment of it, suffice to say that it is a cracking good read, and well worth your time, and few dollars. So, go ahead a get it already.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Quentin R. Stewart, Jr. on June 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is my introduction to Mr. Ashton's work. It is a fascinating story of war machines for World War I, differences in social classes in Britain and Russia at the time, and the onset of Lenin's grab for power. The Russians are building huge war machines to combat the Germans and the revolution that the aristocracy feel will be coming soon. The British send a young officer to investigate the war machines and their feasibility. Lenin is also interested in the war machines and sends and operative to investigate for him. Of course the paths of the investigators cross and the story comes to comes to a climax. It is how the protagonists get to their show down that is interesting and keeps the reader
involved in the book.

I found the book to be interesting and a joy to read. It is an adventure story from the past and one that can hold your interests. Also there is also the possibility that the hero will show up again in future books about this era in history. A very good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Paul Catton on January 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
I read "Red Wheels Turning" after reading the author's "Beneath Gray Skies" and thoroughly enjoyed them both. The novel is an excellent example of alternative-history fiction, and one of its good points is that the setting is a rather unusual one, compared with other places and periods which have been done to death by SF writers. I bought the POD edition, which is printed in the same font as "Beneath Gray Skies" and is very easy on the eyes. The characters are well-crafted and believable, and although some characters also appear in "Beneath Gray Skies", it doesn't matter which book you read first. The plot is quite gripping, and a lot of it concerns the exploits of the gangster-turned-spy Kolinski making his way across Russia. It's very difficult to make a villainous main character nasty and yet sympathetic - but it works here. I was revolted by Kolinski's actions, but I found I was rooting for him as he fought his way out of yet another skirmish with the Russian army.
As well as the human characters, the novel is dominated by the bizarre weapons that drive the plot - the Netopyr and the Zaamurets. It's extraordinary to think that these machines actually existed and Ashton really shines a light into this obscure aspect of world history. My only quibble is that the Zaamurets seemed to get more 'screen time' than the Netopyr, but that's a minor thing. "Steam Punk" and "Diesel Punk" are pigeonholes that people are probably sick of hearing about - the blurb on the back cover coins the term "Steam Pulp" to describe itself - but whatever you call it, this is a damn good read.
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