The Forever Engine

Baen. Jan. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781451639407. pap. $15. SF
OrangeReviewStarIn the near future, Special Forces operator-turned-scholar Jack Fargo agrees to take a look at some curious artifacts, allegedly brought forward from the past by a group of scientists secretly experimenting with time travel. When a violent temporal accident sends Fargo to London in 1888, the soldier-scholar finds himself in a world very different from that of his historical knowledge. In a city rendered dark and toxic by the fumes of industrialization, floating wood, known as liftwood, enables the flight of great iron ships. Humans have colonized Mars, and in Eastern Europe, the Old Man of the Mountains is constructing a "Forever Engine" that could destroy more than one world.
VERDICT The author of How Dark the World Becomes and designer of role-playing games has brought to life a darkly imaginative steampunk future populated by intriguing characters, including a lovely and brilliant spy for the French Commune and a British officer who seems to shirk his duties but who may be more than he appears. Alternate versions of historical characters mingle with Chadwick's fictional personae in a brilliant sf adventure that will leave the reader hoping for further outings for Fargo and his companions.
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