In an alternative 1890, the British Empire’s reach and power is almost absolute, and from a technologically-advanced London where steam-power is king and airships ply the skies, Queen Victoria presides over three-quarters of the known world – including the east coast of America, following the failed revolution of 1775.
But London might as well be a world away from Sandsend, a tiny village on the Yorkshire coast, where Gideon Smith whiles away his days fishing on his father’s clockwork gearship and dreaming of the adventure promised him by the lurid tales of Captain Lucian Trigger, the Hero of the Empire, as presented in Gideon’s favourite “penny dreadful” periodical, World Marvels & Wonders.
When Gideon’s father is lost at sea in highly mysterious circumstances, Gideon is convinced that supernatural forces are at work. The writer Bram Stoker, holidaying in nearby Whitby, fears that a vampire from Transylvania is abroad on English soil, but is the dark agency that killed Arthur Smith and his crew even more ancient and foul – murderous, mummified creatures from the shifting sands of Egypt?
Deciding only Captain Lucian Trigger himself can aid him in his search for answers, Gideon sets off for London, and on the way rescues the mysterious mechanical girl Maria from a tumbledown house of shadows and iniquities.
Looking for heroes but finding only mysteries and unanswered questions, it falls to Gideon Smith to step up to the plate and attempt to save the day… but can a humble fisherman really become the true Hero of the Empire?“A triumph of the modern pulp genre. Funny, clever, and superbly executed… I guarantee you'll have fun as you breeze through this first adventure of Gideon Smith, and I commend it to you all. I'm already anxious for the next one.” - George Mann
“A great-hearted, rollicking romp through the many worlds of classic pulp-loads of fun.” - Nick Harkaway
David Barnett (born 1970) is an English journalist and author. He has several published books, including Hinterland (Immanion Press, 2005, re-issued 2008), Angelglass (Immanion Press, 2007) and The Janus House and Other Two-Faced Tales (Immanion Press, 2009). Born in Wigan, Lancashire, England, he has worked at the Telegraph & Argus.
Written by Bob Milne (2013-09-18)
Next to perhaps River of Stars and The Marching Dead, both of which I went into with high expectations, I don't think I've enjoyed a book this year as much as I did Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl. From the concept to the characters, I enjoyed every aspect of it and came away wanting more . . . much more. David Barnett's novel has been called "the ultimate Victoriana / steampunk mash-up" but that doesn't begin to describe it. It's also an old-fashioned horror story, a penny dreadful romp ... (more)