Sunday, November 22, 2009

Science Fiction in Victorian England

Some books don't fit into the usual genres.  Historical fiction, science fiction, humor, and fantasy are all easy enough to recognize, but what do you do when all four collide in the same book?  Philip Reeve wrote just such a book (and then wrote two sequels for good measure).

 Reeve, Philip (2006). Larklight. (Grades 6-8)

Arthur Mumby and his very proper sister, Myrtle, live in a remarkable house--in outer space.  The year is 1851, and, thanks to Sir Isaac Newton's discoveries about gravity, humans have invented ships that can take them to the moon and beyond.  Queen Victoria's British Empire, for instance, stretches all the way from Venus to Mars, and explorers spend plenty of time around Jupiter.

When Arthur's family receives an unexpected visitor, he and Myrtle are launched into a daring adventure with alien moths, space pirates, and giant white spiders that threaten the Mumbys at every turn.  Arthur tells most of the story himself, but Myrtle's diary entries make regular appearances to fill in some gaps.

Despite the ever-present danger, Larklight and its sequels--Starcross and Mothstorm--are wildly imaginative and humorous books.  You can read an excerpt from the first chapter here!  If it sounds a little strange when you read it, just be patient.  It's supposed to sound like an old, Victorian novel, but it doesn't take long to get used to.  Be sure to pick up a copy of the book itself: the illustrations make the book even more fun to read.

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