Dark Side by Jonathan Green
“Start a new life on the Moon!”
I have been a huge fan of the Pax Britannia novels since I discovered the first novel Unnatural History back in 2007. I was quickly in thrall to the universe of gentleman adventurer and dandy, Ulysees Quicksilver and his ever loyal man servant, Nimrod. Set in an alternate Britain where the Victorian era never ended, the British Empire, now known as Magna Britannia, is still going strong. The industrial revolution continues unchecked and with the help of steam technology Victoria has retained her throne for over one hundred and sixty years. The following video serves as an excellent introduction into what you should expect from a Pax Britannia novel.
In Dark Side, the sixth Pax Britiannia novel that Green has written, the author takes Ulysees Quicksilver from the now familiar streets of London Maximus, off world to the British colonial moon base Luna Prime. Our erstwhile hero’s brother, Barty, always the black sheep of the family, has left London unexpectedly and Ulysees is determined to track him down.
Upon his arrival in the moon Quicksilver begins to uncover a massive conspiracy that will affect not only him and his family but the whole of the British Empire. The reader is then drawn into a rollercoaster of a story involving time travel, giant robots, politics and industrial intrigue.
This novel kept me hooked from page one. It struck me that the title works on two levels. It doesn’t just refer to the dark side of the moon but the reader also gets to experience the darker side of Ulysees character due to the events that unfold.
The thing I like most about Green’s writing, and it’s in evidence here, is that he pays attention to the little details. This is what makes the world(s) of Pax Britannia feel so well realised. Each chapter title is named after a movie, album, play or even episode of The X Files, that deal with matters cosmic or robotic. I think I managed to spot all the references but I might be wrong. The character names as ever are wonderfully evocative from Wilberforce Bainbridge to Alexander Oddfellow. Mention also has to be made of the splendid cover design for this book. I like the reworking of the image from the 1902 sci-fi epic Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon).
Prior to Dark Side, each Quicksilver adventure in the series has essentially been a standalone affair, previous books are mentioned but only in passing. The scope of Dark Side is much larger. The novel ends on a cliff hanger, there is much more to this tale than can be covered in a single book. If I have ever had a criticism of the previous novels it has been that I wanted larger more involved story arcs and based on the ending of Dark Side my wish has been granted.
A new Pax Britannia novel is always a cause for excitement here at The Eloquent Page. Dark Side joins the existing novels as a worthy addition. Green has crafted yet another action packed rip-snorter. Each new release fleshes out the Ulysees Quicksilver universe and is a guaranteed must read. Long may the adventures of Ulysees Quicksilver continue.
As if all this weren’t enough, an added bonus after the main feature, the novel also contains an additional Ulysees Quicksilver novella Proteus Unbound.
The next Ulysees Quicksilver adventure, Anno Frankenstein, is due for release in 2011. I look forward to reading it when it is available.