The second series of Space: 1889 & Beyond continues with instalment two, Mundus Cerialis, and I have to say, it is disappointingly short. It was really good I had a lot of other things to do because otherwise I would have been through in about a day and a bit.
The shortness is the only complaint I have, though. Sharon Bidwell and Andy Frankham-Allen manage to pack the pages full of good things. Mundus Cerialis has everything a good piece of Vernian Sci-Fi (i.e Steampunk) should have: Action, and a lot of it, suspense, intrigue, moments for the heart, a conspiracy and a little more on top of that. In order not to put any spoilers here, I concentrate on the little more on top, which makes Mundus Cerialis such a wonderful reading experience. Part of the story are told through the eyes of an old acquaintance or friend of anyone following the Space: 1889 & Beyond series since the beginning, Doctor Arnaud Fontaine. He is on the run from somebody (we do not find out from whom until the end) and he is on the run under the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres in our asteroid belt (my favourite Space: 1889 location, by the way).
While on the run he makes quite a few interesting discoveries and almost goes native, because he gets more or less adopted by the native intelligent species inhabiting Ceres. Again, I will not spoil anything but I have to congratulate Sharon and Andy for their depiction of that species. Looks, culture, habitat,and the way the conflict between this species and the human miners is solved (and I salute Annabelle). There was plenty opportunity to make the same mistakes made in Ghosts of Mercury, but they were all avoided. In a way, Mundus Cerialis is almost post-colonial, this time men (at least a faction of the human colony) are the bad guys.
In conclusion Mundus Cerialis is an absolute pleasure to read, as I have said, it offers everything you expect from a Steampunk novel and a little more, my only complaint is its shortness. But who knows, maybe Ceres will be revisited.
9 out of 10 Zeppelins