Let me introduce you to a series of books (two already out and the new one arriving on our shelves on Tuesday, June 30) which may just blow your mind. They’re science fiction, they’re steampunk, they’re adventure, they’re intricate and plot-driven with wonderful characters and they’re the kind of books you think of when people complain that “They don’t write ’em like that anymore.” Felix Palma, an international sensation of a writer, has come up with great fun reads in these two (and soon to be three!) books.
The first book in the series is The Map of Time, which came out in 2012. The twisty, interconnected plot concerns time travel. It starts with a young upper class man preparing to commit suicide because the only woman he ever loved became one of the victims of Jack the Ripper. The man’s friends save him from suicide by persuading him that he can go back in time and rescue the woman he loved, using a fancy time machine created by that writer, H. G. Wells. At the same time, the hottest sensation in Victorian London is a special expedition that takes people to the future where they can witness the defeat of evil robots by the greatest hero of mankind. H G. Wells, who knows this expedition is an elaborate fake, is drawn into a plot whereby someone from the actual future is stealing the works not yet written by Victorian writers such as Bram Stoker and Wells himself, and passing them off as this person’s work.
This is one of those books where you get closer and closer to the ending and you can’t imagine how the author is going to pull it off, making all the threads work together and resolving all the crazy events of the plot. Without being a spoiler (I wouldn’t dream of spoiling a book as fun as this one), I can only say that when I reached the very end of the book, I laughed aloud in pure delight at how perfectly the author made it all work.
The second book is The Map of Space, published in 2013. Where The Map of Time played off H. G. Wells’ famous Time Machine, this one takes its inspiration (in part, at least) from Wells’ War of the Worlds. You don’t have to have read the first book to be drawn immediately into this one, though I heartily recommend reading them in order, just to get the full delights of seeing familiar characters reappearing in different contexts (besides, the first book is so good there’s no reason not to read it!).
In this book we begin with a horrific Antarctic exploration gone bad, including in the party one Edgar Allan Poe and one Captain Shackleton. The scene changes to a rich American socialite challenging her millionaire fiance to recreate the Martian invasion from War of the Worlds. So of course when strange alien-looking cylinders start appearing in London, Wells (once again a character in the book) assumes they’re some kind of hoax, except they aren’t There’s a real Martian invasion and the human race is in danger of extinction.
In many ways this is a darker book than The Map of Time, but it’s equally enthralling, and because the stakes are higher, it’s all the more urgent that Palma brings it to an emotionally satisfying conclusion, and once again, I’m happy to report, he does. The ending is both surprising and inevitable; he plays fair with his readers but at the same time hides some of the answers in plain sight.
And now, after a two year wait, the third book, The Map of Chaos, is due to be released on June 30. I can hardly describe how excited I am to read it: not only do we have H. G. Wells as a character, but Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Lewis Carroll make appearances, as does, apparently, Wells’ Invisible Man, somewhat more real than Wells expected.
Do yourself a favor and read The Map of Time and The Map of the Sky now, so you’ll be primed to enjoy the delights of The Map of Chaos when it comes to our library on June 30!