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The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (A Burton & Swinburne Adventure) Paperback – September 1, 2010
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More About the Author
Mark's great-grandfather was Doctor Albert Leigh, who went to medical school with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The two men were great friends--they joined the Freemasons together--and Sir Arthur presented Albert with a complete set of Sherlock Holmes first editions, all inscribed: To dear Leigh, from your friend Doyle. They would fetch a fortune at auction today. Unfortunately, upon Leigh's death in 1944, his housekeeper, an actress, made off with the volumes and they've never been seen since.
Thus it is that two great fortunes have eluded Mark Hodder.
Denied money-for-nothing and the luxury, idleness, and indulgences it would bring, Mark lives in Spain and writes novels. His first Burton & Swinburne adventure--THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF SPRING HEELED JACK--was published in 2010 and promptly won the Philip K. Dick Award. Sequels followed: THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE CLOCKWORK MAN, EXPEDITION TO THE MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON (nominated for the Sidewise Award 2013), THE SECRET OF ABDU EL YEZDI (nominated for the Sidewise Award 2014), and THE RETURN OF THE DISCONTINUED MAN. The final book in the series, THE RISE OF THE AUTOMATED ARISTOCRATS, is currently in preparation.
In A RED SUN ALSO RISES, a non-Burton & Swinburne novel, Mark pays homage to his favourite childhood author, Edgar Rice Burroughs.
As creator and proprietor of BLAKIAN, the Sexton Blake Resource, Mark is delighted to be the first author in nearly half a century to have written an official new Sexton Blake story. THE SILENT THUNDER CAPER tells of Blake's newest encounter with his old foes, The Three Musketeers.
The adventures of Macallister Fogg are available on Kindle; currently: THE MASTER MUMMER'S MUMMY, GREAT GREAT GREAT (AND SO FORTH) UNCLE DRAGOSLAV, and THE HETERODYTHERMALINE HIGHWAYMAN.
Mark has a short story--THE LOSS OF CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE--in the anthology ENCOUNTERS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, and another--THE BLOOD OF OUR LAND--in ZENITH LIVES! He's also written for Polish and German anthologies.
Top Customer Reviews
Okay, moving on. The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack is currently my absolute favorite book of the year and is going to be a tough one to unseat. This mystery steampunk action/adventure alternate history story is tight. Hodder's writing style is crisp and even and easily navigated. Other than a few sections where I bogged down in the science-y alt. history stuff, I blew threw this like it was air. Burton and Swinburne feel authentic as characters and every surrounding aspect is put together in such a way that nothing seems totally out of place even if it obviously is.
What's even more impressive is how Hodder takes a cadre of authentic Victorian personas and blends them so well together, even if they never/rarely met in real life. I learned a lot about the characters both their real selves and alternate fictional selves, as well as the era since we see the diverging paths as one thing after another is affected by the decisions of others. Because decisions matter in this book so it's not just pulp fiction. There is a point to it, but I'll leave that for you to find out as you read. But other than there being a point, the book is all grand fun. Burton is swarthy enough to appeal to action/adventure types while also being a human being. And Swinburne, whom I now poetically seem to have developed a crush on, is a nice balancing character. He needs to live unlike Burton who seems to not need to live as much as he is throughout the book.
As far as plot goes, I could barely believe how well the loose ends were tied up in the end. Even some of the smaller details in the plotting and characterisation come to be important for the climax which is at times utterly surprising. As a standalone title, The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack is outstanding. I can only hope it serves as a platform for more Burton and Swinburne in the future. A Must Read book for any steampunk or alternate history reader.
Hodder imagines Spring Heeled Jack as a future historian/scientist who attempts to undo his family's sullied reputation by "fixing" the past. That historian/scientist, Edward Oxford, journeys back through time via a sophisticated time-travel suit to convince his ancestor of the same name to forgo a failed attempt to assassinate the young Queen Victoria. Wishing his lineage something better than being known for their own John Hinckley, Oxford instead creates a far worse outcome that alters all of history and traps him in the past. His many attempts to undo the damage to time prove more and more disastrous, his sanity slipping away even as the authorities attempt his capture.
Commissioned by King Albert to be his age's version of Agent Fox Mulder of _The X-Files_, former African explorer Richard Francis Burton pursues Jack. In the course of unwinding Jack's mysterious story, Burton encounters man-beasts created by the new breed of geneticists, robots with human brains, flying ships, and a timeline that he senses has gone awry. Poet Algernon Swinburne joins the creature hunt, and the story hurtles through mayhem, mystery, and one bizarre historical and technological re-imagining after another.
It's good--if highly unlikely--stuff.
* Inventive.Read more ›
At its core The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack is a time travel mind bender mashed up with a pulp. The beginning was a bit all over the place, but it quickly turned into a very entertaining romp with adventurer extraordinaire Sir Richard Francis Burton and de Sade follower and poet Algernon Swinburne. Like Westerfeld Hodder chooses to innovate with not only technological wonders, but also genetic using Darwin as a keystone. Everything from giant swans, coal-driven horses, odd chimney sweeps, and broomcats come into the fold in this well realized alternative England. And not since Dicken's have chimney sweeps been so well used. The Spring Heeled Jack mythos is used to great effect as Hodder unveils this mysterious hopping bogey monster. There are many groups all vying for power. Nearly too many with political, technological, and anti-tech groups all jumping into the fray as well as their offshoots.
Despite some quibbles with the first quarter of the story Hodder brings it all home and clearly shows how much fun he had writing this tale.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wonderful book! Hodder created a world you can easily get lost in. I can't wait to read more!Published 2 months ago by Scarlett Stewart
In the end… I only felt any real interest and sympathy for the "Spring Heeled Jack" character. The version of London portrayed by MH was only mildly compelling. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Janine M. Steiner
The plot felt dumb. I enjoy steampunk aesthetics, but does it have to be always connected to such idiotic stories?Published 5 months ago by Dan Svoboda
The title says it all- Strange. As in most time hopping books- there are instances of repeat and that slows the pace. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Jett1961
Full of twists and turns, this book is filled to the top with steampunk goodness. It starts out as a waltz in Victorian London and then drops drips of steampunkiness until you are... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Susan Roach
A fun book to read, will most likely read the other books in the series.Published 8 months ago by B. Johnson
Will read Mark's other books! Venturing into other world's of the imagination, what fun, kept me reading quickly. Good job!Published 15 months ago by Ancient Techie