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Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Link Between H. G. Wells & K. W. Jeter

Today is the birthday of K. W. Jeter. I know him best as the author of a trilogy of Star Wars novels, centered around the bounty hunter Boba Fett. Most of the literary community know him as the man who coined the term Steampunk in a letter to Locus magazine. His early novel, Infernal Devices, which I read last year, took me on a journey through dark and seedy Victorian London communities. It featured elaborate robots designed to replicate the actions of priests and lay leaders in Church of England worship services. (Unfortunately, these automatons leave mass injury and destruction in their wake). As a bonus, it also featured elaborate clocks that portend the end of the world.

Or at least, that's my best summary of it. There's lots of other fun aspects to it, involving boats, planes, and selkies, and if you're interested I'll let you discover those on your own. Interestingly, today's readers, inured to modern conventions, often remark there's not enough "Steampunk" in it. As I don't make a habit of reading this niche genre, I cannot comment on that. What I can tell you is that this early K. W. Jeter's novel entertained me, and left me sufficiently intrigued about certain plot points (especially selkies) that I turned to Wikipedia and gained a better knowledge of the world. 

So, I guess you could call that a recommendation for Infernal Devices.

Now I'm heading down a path to read another of his novels. While researching this year's trip to England, I realized that I might have time to stop by one H. G. Wells landmark. This dovetails with earlier plans for our 2013 trip (sadly abandoned) to visit another key Wells location. This, along with several Classics Illustrated adaptations of H. G. Wells' stories that I recently picked up, sent me to my bookshelf. 

For my first H. G. Wells reading experience in decades, I selected The Time Machine. So far, I've noticed that this short novel differs from George Pal's movie version in significant ways. What's struck me most strongly so far is that the Morlocks, hairy creatures in the film, are depicted as white ape-like creatures with large bulbous eyes in the novel. 

Although I didn't plan it at the time, as I began reading The Time Machine, I realized which novel I should read next. It's been sitting in my bookshelves since Christmas, when I received it as a gift. It's entitled Morlock Nights, a sequel to H. G. Well's classic novel. And it's author? None other than celebrated Star Wars and Steampunk author K. W. Jeter. So it would seem that another novel has joined the ranks of books pressing for my immediate attention. 

Happy Birthday K. W. Jeter. I can't wait to read your book!

Dragon Dave

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