I received a copy of Morlock Night by K.W. Jeter from the fine folks at Angry Robot in exchange for an honest review. Angry Robot puts out some awesome books, and if you haven’t already, you should definitely check them out.
Morlock Night is a steampunk novel that picks up where H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine leaves off. The protagonist, Edwin Hocker, attended the dinner party in Wells’ story and heard the tale of the time machine, but thought that it was merely a fanciful story. It turns out that the story was true, and now the Morlocks have possession of the machine and are poised to take over Victorian England.
Morlock Night is an ambitious novel, as it pairs the story of The Time Machine with the legend of King Arthur. That’s right. Who better to save England from her most dire hour than he reincarnated Hero of Britain? Of course, that’s not as easy as it sounds, because Merlin’s archenemy, Merdenne, has joined forces with Morlocks. He’s captured both Arthur and Excalibur, and so Hocker must suspend his rationality and disbelief, otherwise all is lost.
For such an enterprising and complex story, I felt that Morlock Night accomplished its goals well. I’ve read other steampunk novels that feel cluttered, or that try to incorporate so many different elements that they don’t quite do any of them well. I didn’t get that impression here. Jeter was able to integrate several different mythologies, including King Arthur, The Time Machine, and the legend of Atlantis, and I was impressed that he was able to pull it off. Jeter does take some liberties with the source material, but it’s for artistic reasons, and I’m okay with his interpretation of Wells’ vision.
Jeter incorporates the same tone as H.G. Wells as he tells his story, which makes the novel campy and fun. This isn’t *serious* reading, and it’s not meant to be. It’s a pulpy steampunk adventure, and I loved it. One of the things that I enjoy about steampunk is its ability to incorporate strong female characters. In this case, Hocker’s sidekick from the future is a woman named Tafe who fought in the resistance against the Morlocks. She disguises as a man when she time travels to before the invasion, and Hocker wouldn’t have been able to succeed without her.
If you’ve read The Time Machine and are into steampunk, Morlock Night is an excellent adventure. It’s a quick read and definitely worth giving a chance.
By the way, does anyone else adore this cover as much as I do? I love the 1960s psychedelic feel that it has. If it were a poster, I’d want it on my wall. The creepy eyes and the submarine are awesome.