This is a new format for the blog, a non-review book feature. I have a backlist of 50 works of literature by now (fiction and non-fiction) and I see little chance of getting them all read in the foreseeable future. Instead, I am going to feature a book I found noteworthy but have not gotten round reading or finishing it, every now and then. The first of those is
Pulse Chaser by Archer Garrett
A Classic Science Fiction Adventure in the Spirit of Jules Verne.
In September, 1859, a celestial event of untenable proportions bombarded the earth. Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America were disrupted or destroyed. Telegraph pylons threw terrifying arcs of electricity through the air. Operators were shocked; some were even killed. Some systems continued to send messages even after being unplugged. Auroras were seen as far away from the poles as the Caribbean.
Two amateur astronomers, Richard Carrington and Burgess Stallworth, identified the phenomenon as a solar storm. The storm, the first and largest ever recorded, came to be known as the Carrington Event.
In the midst of the storm, they discovered something far more extraordinary, a ripple in the aether, and an entirely new world.
This other world, in many ways a mirror image of our own, became a buffer of sorts against tempests such as the Carrington Event. Auroras became a regular phenomenon there. Massive solar flares were as common as Sunday brunch. These extremes forced this alternate world to progress in a much different direction than our own.
Thirty years later, William Stallworth, grandson of Burgess, abandons his mundane life in our own world for one of adventure in another. He discovers a place that is far different than even he expected. Steamwork airships soar through, and are plagued by aerial pirates. Mighty sea creatures, the products of a prolonged Industrial Revolution’s pollution, haunt the seas. Cities glow by the light of ethereal, alchemical reagents, while evil lurks in the shadows just beyond.
While aboard Helios, the first airship of its kind, William is propelled into a series of harrowing exploits that ultimately lead to the unearthing of a plot that could destroy the world that he has come to love, as well as the one he left behind.
And this is an excerpt:
Journal Entry 237a
An Introduction to the Caribbean Expedition
Since the study of electromagnetism was mostly abandoned, the minds of many thinkers were freed to pursue other fields of study; namely, these being chemistry, metallurgy and biology. Note I say that the study of electricity was mostly abandoned; the electrical does exist here, though it is very limited in scope. Because of the need for Faraday cages in all things electric, the cost and application of such can be quite prohibitive.
The advancement of chemistry in Terra was far greater than anything in our world. Many of these discoveries were used for the betterment of society, but some, I fear, will soon be used by evil men – just as we’ve seen in our own world. That, however, I shall save for another entry.
As you look around your world, you’ve probably realized that science and technology often outpace the sensibilities and ethics of man. We often have to learn by burning our fingers, but our collective memories are short-term and the lessons we learn are soon forgotten. Our bandaged fingers eventually go wobbling back into the dancing flames.
In the early years of the divergence, environmental concerns were nonexistent, and pollution was rampant in both worlds. The inhabitants of the multiverse were forced to eventually address their smog-filled cities and the acid rain that pattered on their heads, but Terra had a far worse problem in the early days – what to do with the extremely toxic by-products of the chemicals and processes that were being developed?
At first they were dumped openly on the ground in the deserts and other sparsely inhabited areas, but this created vast wastelands. Burying the chemicals was attempted next, but due to their highly corrosive nature, contaminated groundwater soon became a dire issue. Finally, a solution was devised; the by-products would be dumped in the depths of the oceans, far from civilization. What could possibly go awry? As we would soon discover, quite a many things, actually.
Most of the creatures of the sea that ventured into the designated dumping grounds quickly perished, but this was not the case for all species. Some creatures experienced horrific mutations, far worse than any could have imagined. One class in particular that was affected in this manner was cephalopods – specifically squid and octopi. These creatures experienced vastly increased growth rates and exhibited extremely aggressive and territorial mannerisms. Even so, this journal entry would not exist had it not been for architeuthidae, known to us commoners as the giant squid.
The largest documented architeuthidae was 43’ long and weighed over 600 pounds, but many an old sailor had a tale or two of a monstrous beast that exceeded 60’ in length. The toxic dumping had the effect of tripling, or possibly even quadrupling the size of the already-massive creatures. Entire ships began to disappear without a trace, and sailors began to bring stories to port of mythical krakens, except they were no longer a myth. After a particularly gruesome attack against a barque in the Caribbean was witnessed by a passing vessel, a team of men was organised to track down and exterminate the offending beast. This is where my story begins.
If this has kindled your interest, then pick up Pulse Chaser.