A Red Sun Also Rises by Mark Hodder
A man without faith. A woman without hope.
My name is Aiden Fleischer. I was forced from my home, moved among the victims of Jack the Ripper, was tortured by a witch doctor, and awoke on another planet. Throughout it all, my assistant, Clarissa Stark, remained at my side.
On Ptallaya, we were welcomed by the Yatsill. The creatures transformed their society into a bizarre version of our own, and we found a new home beneath the world’s twin suns. But there was darkness in my soul, and as the two yellow globes set, I was forced to confront it, for on Ptallaya …
A RED SUN ALSO RISES
… and with it comes an evil more horrifying than any on Earth.
Upon their arrival on Ptallya, Aiden and Clarissa meet a strange race called the Yatsill. These enigmatic creatures have the power to telepathically mine thoughts. They use Clarissa as a subject for their powers, and very quickly begin to establish a new order based on her memories of home. A slightly surreal parody of London society springs up almost overnight. This new regime is made up of Aristocrats and the Working Class.
Everything initially seems quite idyllic, but as time passes this new society begins to fall apart. The Yatsill are reticent to discuss certain aspects of their culture and there seem to be secrets everywhere. It’s up to Aiden and Clarissa to uncover the truth about their new home. What follows, reads like a marvellous slice of golden age science fiction.
What really sold this book for me was the attention to all the little details. One of the best things about the change that comes over the Yatsill, is the new names that they come up with for themselves. Hodder is obviously having a great deal of fun with this particular element of the story. The names are all verging on the absurd, and it’s great to discover them all as each one is slightly more odd than the last. One of my personal favourites was Tendency Clutterfuss. Best character name ever? Could well be.
In addition to the amusing names, the Yatsill all start speaking terribly proper English. There is a colonel who is part of the Yatsill military who is all bluster and outraged exclamations. I have to admit a certain fondness for phrases like ‘tally ho‘ or ‘by jove‘. That sort of language always reminds me of George MacDonald Fraser’s iconic creation, Flashman. It’s very strange to hear that particular lexicon coming out of the mouth of an alien-being, but within the confines of this story it totally works.
It’s nice to see the evolution of the relationship between Aiden and Clarissa. On Earth, they are very much bound by the constraints of Victorian society, but once they find themselves elsewhere things change quite dramatically. Aiden is also forced to face his inner demons, and starts to better understand himself and the nature of humanity. I wasn’t expecting quite this level of introspection in the characters, but it works well and helps flesh out the context of the main narrative.
It struck me that this novel positively revels in the unexpected. Each time I thought I had an inkling about where the plot was going next, my suspicions proved to be entirely incorrect. I do like when a book defies my preconceived notions and takes me somewhere unexpected. I’ve not read any of Mark Hodder’s other novels, but based on my experience with this one I’ll have to remedy that situation quick smart.
A Red Sun Also Rises is published by Del Rey UK and is available from 17th January. Definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for an action packed science fiction romp.