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The Return of the Discontinued Man: A Burton & Swinburne Adventure [Kindle Edition]

Mark Hodder
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton and poet Algernon Swinburne return in a new series of wildly imaginative steampunk adventures.


It's 9 p.m. on February 15, 1860, and Charles Babbage, the British Empire's most brilliant scientist, performs an experiment. Within moments, blood red snow falls from the sky and Spring Heeled Jack pops out of thin air in London's Leicester Square. Though utterly disoriented and apparently insane, the strange creature is intent on one thing: hunting Sir Richard Francis Burton!

Spring Heeled Jack isn't alone in his mental confusion. Burton can hardly function; he's experiencing one hallucination after another--visions of parallel realities and future history. Someone, or something, is trying to tell him about ... what? 

When the revelation comes, it sends Burton and his companions on an expedition even the great explorer could never have imagined--a voyage through time itself into a twisted future where steam technology has made a resurgence and a despotic intelligence rules over the British Empire!

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In this fifth installment of his popular Burton and Swinburne steampunk alternate-history series, Hodder brings back the titular antihero of his award-winning novel The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (2010). This time the mythical leaping phantom plays an entirely different role for notorious explorer Richard Burton and his sidekick, the famous poet Algernon Swinburne, acting here as a messenger with a warning about a catastrophic rift in time. After red snow begins falling from the sky and Burton experiences a series of hallucinations involving parallel universes, the pair traces these disruptions to an experiment conducted by brilliant inventor Charles Babbage. Before they know it, Burton and Swinburne find themselves jumping into the future in 54-year increments, with their ultimate destination a radically transformed England in 2202. As in the previous novels, Hodder puts his knack for tall-tale spinning on full display, with such Victorian England celebrities as Herbert Spencer and H. G. Wells rubbing elbows with each other in one imaginative and enthralling scenario after another. Hodder’s growing legion of fans won’t be disappointed. --Carl Hays


"Exquisite prose, exceptional characters and worldbuilding, and a rollicking good adventure to boot ... A must read" -- George Mann "Serious literary fun as Mark Hodder vaults to the front of the new steampunk writers pack. Elaborately researched and name-checked, THE SECRET OF ABDU EL YEZDI races Victorian explorer Sir Richard Burton through a diabolically baffling maze of historical possiblities -- plus there's corsets and airships. Hard to imagine any lover of alternate British empires not being thoroughly amazed and entertained" K.W. Jeter "Great fun, thought-provoking, highly literate and beautifully written" Daily Mail

Product Details

  • File Size: 1906 KB
  • Print Length: 367 pages
  • Publisher: Pyr (July 8, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #399,616 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Time-Hopping Tale July 23, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The adventure continues for Burton & Swinburne in The Return of the Discontinued Man. A bit of time has passed since the events relating to Abdu El Yezdi, but Sir Richard Francis Burton not only begins to feel time pressing on him, he seems to be hallucinating it too. With the help of the always peppy poet Algernon Swinburne, Burton discovers the source of the hallucinations and the truth behind what he must do. Burton and Swinburne, along with several other familiar faces, soon find themselves literally hopping through time toward the year 2202. Along the way they make some new friends and find out just how different the future is from what it should have been if the events hadn't been changed by Spring Heeled Jack.

The writing is as crisp and entertaining as always. Mark Hodder does a fantastic job of working in big ideas without bogging down the development of events or making the ideas so technical that you can't tell top from bottom. The only real issue I had was the ongoing disorientation of Burton's hallucinations in the first section and then the introduction of characters and places that quickly get discarded through the second section when our main players are advancing through time. There are a few times that the book feels more like the author writing something for himself than for purposes of helping plot. Also, the book finishes with part revelation and part set-up for the next book, so there is a vague sense of incompleteness. Quite a doozy the climax is too. Still, The Return of the Discontinued Man is a definite must-read for anyone who has been following Burton & Swinburne this far even if it seems a bit discombobulating at times. Plenty of action, suspense, and science fiction to be had all round.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Fifth Burton & Swinburne Adventure September 15, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the fifth novel in the series, with Steampunk, time travel and Victoriana, real historical characters and plots that fast, twisting and truly original. I've read and thoroughly enjoyed this series and was eager to see where Hodder would go with this further adventure of Sir Richard Burton and Algernon Swinburne.
The writing is as ever, tight, well constructed and the characters three dimensional, fully formed but beware, although there are many passages explaining past story lines in the previous books, you really need to have read the series to be able to follow this fast paced novel.
And that is what I found slightly annoying about this book, but it was obvious that Hodder was trying to ensure that everyone was on the same page but it detracted from the action for me.
I'm a huge Mark Hodder fan, have loved this series and his other books, this one was mostly satisfying but I felt let down by the ending.
This and the frequent explanations was the reason I gave only four stars.
So if you've been following the series, yes you need to read this one, but prepare yourself for a surprising end to this adventure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forward to the Warped Future, Bravely July 24, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Hold on to your hat, because this may be the wildest ride yet for Burton, Swinburne and company. Time-skipping all the way to the year 2202, it's certainly the most ambitious book in terms of sheer scope in this deeply satisfying series. As with many time-travel-centric tales, the plot can feel a bit, well, jumpy at times, but Mark Hodder knows where (and when) he's going with the story.

This tightly-disconnected series keeps rebooting my waning interest in steampunk, though - as many have noted - pigeon-holing the saga as steampunk is a wholly inadequate definition. Perhaps Victorian timepunk? Regardless, the steampunk elements are simply ingredients in the cake, not the whole confection. Deep philosophy, twisty history, lush verse and an obvious author-driven need to address social inequity are some of the compelling and deftly-wielded tools that bring me back to Burton & Swinburne time and time again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Double butterfly effect... October 18, 2014
By Raven
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In this, the fifth volume of Mark Hodder’s steampunk alternative timeline, Sir Richard Francis Burton and poet Algernon Swinburne are faced with a sad dilemma. The massive clockwork body of scientist Isambard Kingdom Brunel has ceased to function. With it, the life of Brunel becomes discontinued. Due to the black diamond fragments in his mechanical brain, he is technically alive, just discontinued.

The Nimtz generator built by Charles Darwin and Charles Babbage is capable of time travel, connected to the Time Machine invented by HG Wells. However a transfer of power at exactly nine o’clock on the fifteenth of February somehow manages to have repercussions across every possible timeline. In effect, it is what first enabled Edward Oxfordn, AKA Spring-heeled Jack to come back in time to stop his ancestor from attempting to kill Queen Victoria, which in a struggle between Jack and Burton results in the Queen being killed, fracturing reality.

Burton has already traveled in alternate timelines, and knows that there are infinite possibilities in infinite combinations, and only one would be the restoration of the natural timeline. Still, Burton, Swinburne, Wells and company decide they need to travel to February fifteenth at precisely nine o’clock in the year 2202, the year Spring-heeled Jack first jumped back in time to stop him. They form The Cannibal Club as a support system, there to meet them when they stop and aware of the ultimate goal of the voyagers.

We are taken on a wild ride through time with stops ever so often to take on supplies and sometimes to totally change vehicles as improvements have been made. The Nimtz generator from the first time-ship must be removed and installed in the new and improved ship.
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