I have been looking forward to reading The Age Atomic, ever since it was announced. After enjoying Empire State immensely, I was itching for the sequel, and this is what I found when I finally got it:
The Age Atomic is set a number of years after Empire State, in 1954, but in the Empire State (the first novel is named after the setting), only a few months have passed. In the Empire State, we meet an old friend from the previous novel, Rad Bradley, who has to deal with a rather dire situation: The Empire State is plunged in a perpetual winter, Captain Carson, who took charge of the Empire State at the end of Empire State has gone missing, chaos is spreading and a mysterious figure known as The King of 125th Street is assembling an army of robots, recruited from the Wartime navy. He gets help, of sorts, from a mysterious woman named Jennifer Jones who works for the City Commissioner but also has her own agenda. To make matters worse, Nimrod, Rad’s ally from our-reality New York has not made contact with the Empire State in a while.
Nimrod has his own troubles in New York, Eisenhower’s government has set up a new organisation, Atoms for Peace, headed by Evelyn McHale, a suicidal woman turned goddess by the fissure which created the Empire State. Evelyn is mercurial, possibly insane and Nimrod does not trust her but is forced to cooperate.
Just as in Empire State, Adam Christopher manages to create a gripping noir tale, this one set at the very beginning of the US‘ post-War golden age. I also consider The Age Atomic to be the first real Atompunk novel, quite a feat. The story is again multi-facetted and there are once more enough twists and turns to keep the readers surprised and at the edge of their seats. Very few things in The Age Atomic are what they appear, there is a hidden agenda behind almost everything. The McCarthy era paranoia runs strong in The Age Atomic and adds a very fitting bitter flavour to it. And just as in the real world: The wrong ones get accused of being communists.
The Age Atomic also has its share of tragic characters, adding a layer Empire State did not have. Two of the main protagonists are destined to die, but… (and I will not say more, it would be a major spoiler). And there are the discoveries, Captain Carson has made… Oh the implications! More fuel for WorldBuilder!
The novel also ends with one of the biggest cliff hangers I have ever encountered, but I can completely understand Nimrod’s action, believe me.
To sum up: The Age Atomic is another masterful tale by Adam Christopher. An action-packed noir Atompunk tale with more layers, facettes and twists than one would expect and which keeps the reader enthralled from the first to the last page. Highly recommended reading!
I WANT A SEQUEL!
10 out of 10 Zeppelins (So far, no book by Angry Robot has gotten less then 9/10, I wonder how long they can keep it up).