the Little Red Reviewer

A Red Sun Also Rises, by Mark Hodder

Posted on: December 20, 2012

ARedSunAlsoRisesA Red Sun Also Rises, by Mark Hodder

published December 2012

where I got it: received ARC from the publisher

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Aiden Fleischer is a conflicted man, more so than most men.  A young and sheltered priest who struggles with his faith, Aiden escapes an extortion scheme by signing up with the Missionary Society. Travelling with him, is his friend and housekeeper Clarissa Stark, whose engineering genius is matched only by her crippling disfigurement. Before long, Aiden and Clarissa find themselves on a remote island near the Solomon Islands, and Aiden begins his task of bringing the Lord’s word to the natives. Who aren’t the slightest bit interested. Also, they are cannibals.

During a ritual gone wrong (or maybe right?) Aiden and Clarissa are sent through a portal to an alien world, where strange insect-like beings welcome them with open arms. Apparently the islanders have been coming here for years to work as servants for the aliens. After Clarissa accidentally falls into a sacred pool, the aliens, known as Yatsill, are able to read her thoughts and memories of London. Soon, the Yatsill are all speaking with almost Cockney accents, and attempting to wear the fashions of 1880’s London, which look ridiculous on their four-legged bodies.

The Yatsill are mimics, able to create and recreate their city, their homes, their language and their fashions to copy memories read from an Earthling’s mind. But they are still just imitating, going through the motions with no understand of what they are doing (Not unlike how Aiden goes through the motions of being a  man of faith, actually). A funny example is the British sounding names many of Yatsill adopt, such as Crockery Clattersmash, Prosper Possibly, and Mordant Reverie. Poor Aiden, he has to keep a straight face the whole time!

The details put into the Yatsill and their planet of Ptallaya are nothing short of astounding.  Hodder lets his imagination run wild, offering up lighter-than-air behemoths who crawl across the landscape by grabbing trees with their hands, huge fruits that hum, and sky scraping tentacled creatures.  Ptallaya itself, is in a unique spot in the universe, which causes all sorts of strange things to happen on its surface. For no other reason, read this for the aliens and their unique planet. Because the Yatsill are just the beginning of what Ptallaya has on offer.

When multiple attempts are made on Clarissa’s life, it becomes obvious that the Yatsill are not unanimously in support of these societal changes.  Their newly “London-ified” city can’t possibly survive the strong weather on the planet, and Clarissa and Aiden’s requests for more information about strange phrases continue to go unanswered.  There is something very wrong here, and Aiden is running out of time to figure out what. Moreso, he’d like to figure out how to get home.  Doesn’t that sound hokey “running out of time”? But this time, I’m dead serious.  Because when the twin suns of Ptallaya set . . .  well, that would be a massive, magnificent spoiler, and I’m not going to tell you.

If you’ve read Hodder before, you know he’s a man of details.  In his earlier Burton & Swinburne series, there were certainly sections that felt infodumped because of all the historical detail that was needed in the story. In this new, stand alone novel, Hodder gets mighty close to mastering “show, don’t tell”.  Every conversation, every observation, every detail is important. But you never feel like you’re drowning in information, you just feel like you’re reading a nice conversation between characters, or Aiden’s observations of the alien planet.  But suddenly, you have all these details, and it’s incredible.

In the introduction, Hodder says the story was inspired by a journal found on a shipwreck in the Bermuda Triangle.  By framing the story in such a way, the reader can’t help but wonder if there was a grain of truth in Reverend Fleischer’s ravings. I know this style of framing is a standard Victoriana device, but I have a soft spot for it.

I greatly enjoyed A Red Sun Also Rises. The pacing is spot on, the characters have hidden depths, the end is mad-cap in a way only Hodder can do, and as I’ve already mentioned the aliens are incredible. As always, I am exceedingly curious to see what the marvelous Mark Hodder comes up with next.

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7 Responses to "A Red Sun Also Rises, by Mark Hodder"

I’ve been going back and forth about reading this one, I too was sent an ARC. One one hand it sounds fascinating but on the other I’m worried that I may end up feeling ‘meh’ about it. I like hearing that it has a “mad-cap” end and I’m like you, I like that kind of framing device in stories. Hmmm….decisions, decisions. :)

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read the first 20 pages, see what you think. if it doesn’t grab you by page 20, give it up. If it counts for anything, the book grabbed me by like page 4!

I think this one is easier to get into than Hodder’s Burton & Swinburne series, with those, there was so much historical (and other) set up, and it was assumed that the reader had some knowledge of that time period. With Red Sun, it’s no experience necessary, just dive in.

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I think I’m destined to go ahead and at least give this a try, I first got the ARC and then a couple of days ago got an actual copy of the book…perhaps I’m being told something, lol!

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Interesting, I haven’t ever come across this author yet. I do have to say, the cover does raises my interests. I’ll add it to my TBR list, but for some reason I have a hunch I have to be in a good relaxed mood to read this book.

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I really like the sound of this not to mention look at that bloody mental looking cover!
Thanks
Lynn :D

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Great review!

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thanks!

this was the perfect Hodder for you to start with. hopefully RED SUN will garner him more attention, he’s pretty much been under the radar so far.

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