Dec 23, 2011

Christmas Past by Jonathan Green

Obviously, this is not the cover for Jonathan Green's steampunk short story, "Christmas Past." However, it is written by him, and is far more festive than any of the Pax Britannia covers. Those are kickass, but not festive.
Having read two of Jonathan Green's novels, his collection of short stories, and now his short Christmas tale, I find him hit-and-miss. I nothing short of detested Unnatural History, and while I enjoyed much of Leviathan Rising, I was nonplussed by its unnecessarily stereotypical treatment of asians-as-villains. I find Green far easier to take in small doses. Green's writing is the literary equivalent of your favorite junk-food - it's bad for you, but you enjoy it anyhow.

"Christmas Past" is one of Green's short works, available for free download from the Pax Britannia site. It's a no-risk venture, but so as not to waste anyone's time, I'll give you a quick sense of its flavour. It's a bloody tale of revenge and murder, complete with a slasher Santa. The mystery isn't half-bad, though not at the level of Sherlock Holmes, though it's clear Green wants his series' hero, Ulysses Quicksilver, to come off as a combination of Roger Moore's James Bond and Sherlock Holmes with a libido. That isn't to say it isn't worth reading - it's a nice diversion, and a good introduction to Green's style - if you like "Christmas Past," you will likely enjoy the Ulysses Quicksilver Short Story Collection. You may even wish to try some of Green's novels, though I can't vouch for them myself. I haven't given up on the man yet, though. He certainly takes things to a gonzo level in his steampunk world, as you'll see when I talk Leviathan Rising in the new year as part of the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea series of posts, and I still own one more of his earlier Quicksilver novels (Human Nature, where I originally found "Christmas Past"). I love the underlying ideas Green plays with, but I have mixed feelings about the execution. Who knows, YMMV.

If you enjoy "Christmas Past," here's an idea taken from Gail Carriger's blog, where she suggested the following as a stocking stuffer:
Find some nice sepia tone or other fancy printer paper, buy a $0.99 short story by your friend's favorite author in .pdf form (or whatever) and print it out. Roll up and tie with a little ribbon. Pop into top of stocking, so cute! (Of course, for all the nay-sayers out there, I am not suggesting distributing or profiting from these print outs.)
Perhaps you'll use "Christmas Past." If it wasn't to your liking, why not try Carriger's short story, or Cherie Priest's free short story, "Tanglefoot: A Story of the Clockwork Century"? Or if you have your heart set on keeping it festively seasonal, try "If Dragon's Mass Eve Be Cold and Clear" by Ken Scholes. For those who hate reading, and want some arts and crafts on Christmas eve or morn, try Desktop Gremlins' Steampunk Santa!

Well, it's time to leave the blog until the new year - the year's "Best of" post will be out next Friday, but that's already written and waiting a scheduled posting. The best of the season to you all. Thanks once again for dropping by the blog, and making it one of the go-to-spaces on the web for steampunk reading.

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