“Imagine if you will, a world where our history pages have been smudged, ever so slightly. A world where places and people sort of, well… differ from our current reality. Our history books suggest the Titanic sank during her maiden voyage and that Nikola Tesla has no place on the mantle of great inventors, but this tale, from the memoirs of Sir Swarley Paxmore, tells a different, skewed story…”
Wardenclyffe from author Gregg Cunningham and published by Black Hare Press is an alternate history tale of failed experiments, war, courage, romance and dragons. Yes, dragons.
The novelette is the first in Black Hare Press’ “Short Reads” series and is a fine effort to debut with. Cunningham cuts a blistering pace throughout, moving the action from 1912’s Blackpool all the way to Long Island, USA in less than 90 pages.
That’s not to say this isn’t a substantial read. The speed at which the plot moves helps Cunningham pack more in. There are three meaty action set-pieces, placed in between fine character work and excellent world-building.
The world-building, in particular, is done to a high standard. Cunningham takes some real historical events, like the Titanic’s sinking, and puts his own spin on it. The use of Nikola Tesla and the novelette’s spectacular beginning at the Blackpool Tower reminded me a little of Disney’s Tomorrowland, but only for a fleeting moment. Wardenclyffe is wholly original and a page turner. I read the book in one sitting, then read it again.
Humour is strong throughout. If you’re a fan of Terry Pratchet’s Discworld series you’ll find much to enjoy here. Star Wars fans will also find reference to a classic line, used to good measure. The interplay between protagonist Swarley Paxmore and his second-in-command, Smithy is endearing and, overall, fun.
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