Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders

Richard Ellis Preston, Jr. Amazon/47North, $14.95 trade paper (504p) ISBN 978-1-61109-918-8
Preston’s steampunk debut manages to turn a half-destroyed world recovering from a brutal Martian invasion into the setting of a weird and rather trite faux-humorous fable. Our dashing hero is “the Magnificent Romulus Buckle,” commander of the steam-powered Pneumatic Zeppelin, for whom no superlative is superlative enough. He leads his motley crew to a daring rescue of his adopted father, clan leader Adm. Balthazar Crankshaft, from the nefarious Founders. Naturally there’s a love triangle populated by chief navigator and first mate Lt. Sabrina Serafim, “a perfectly slender version of a full-grown wood nymph” whose face has “a tendency towards Asian angles,” and half-Martian chief engineer Max, the closest thing to a nonwhite character in this alternate California. Together, they face numerous obstacles (raptorlike tanglers, iron-suited forgewalkers, wastelands of noxious gas) as they storm the “impenetrable” City of the Founders. Despite some imaginative and cinematic world-building, this attempt at a rip-roaring, swashbuckling adventure crumbles into hyperbolic cliché. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/13/2013
Release date: 07/01/2013
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