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Zany, Serious, Solid

By LondonIvy, member

Sep 9, 2011: I am a long-time fan of Stefan Gagne’s writing, and so it was natural I gave his newest series Anachronauts a try. As of now I have read two books in the series and trying to find the time to read more.

What Anachronauts is at its heart is a very solid genre mash-up, filled with seemingly incongruous elements (aliens, the fae, steampunk and zombies all mixed in a post-apocalyptic world). From his past writing it’s obvious that Gagne excels with mash-ups of this sort, usually bringing different, even paradoxical elements together into a stream-lined, unique world. The world of Anachronauts is an alternate Earth that feels original, even if the parts that create this world actually aren’t. It’s more about how Gagne masterfully stitches everything together than it is about what he puts in.

Yet, the world of Anachronauts is also what holds this series back from a five. Every element has an interesting, original spin, and it’s exciting to see what Gagne has done with each part of his world. On the other end it’s almost too incongruous with no real unifying theme to bring it together. Yes, there is a plot reason for the worldbuilding’s patchwork feel (an occurrence called the Pandora Event brought the fae and other creatures together from alternate realities), but it still doesn’t keep the reader from feeling that perhaps these elements could be stitched together more finely. Yes, I’m aware the series is called Anachronauts and that may be the point.

Overall, however, the world-building is quite good. All of my nitpicks are personal and don’t detract from my enjoyment of the series.

However, I have never read a Stefan Gagne story for the world or even the plot but for the characters he populates in his worlds. So how do the characters in Anachronauts hold up?

Most are excellent and well-sketched out. Although there is the occasional character I feel could be given more depth, such as Una and Nel (although he’s making attempts to rectify this), overall you know who these characters are and what they’re about. They aren’t just blank slates walking around an interesting world. They are the world, and you really feel they are acting on the world rather than the world acting on them. They aren’t mere puppets or conveniences of the plot.

The plot itself is made up of large arcs, and with every arc it’s almost like the stakes become higher and the character’s conflicts deeper. Emily in particular has an interesting conflict that I won’t reveal save to say it deals with the old issue of power versus keeping your humanity. The author switches between funny, serious and even the zany in a way that is effortless.

However, there are a lot of characters and plots, leaving some potentially interesting character conflicts to only be briefly touched upon. This in addition to the patchwork feel of the world means the work merits a four rather than a five in my mind.

In closing: I waited eagerly for installments of this series to come out. I wanted to know what would happen next, and the whole thing is like a wonderful, tightly-written television show, especially the author releases scenes on a schedule like episodes of a tv series. A must-read and perhaps Gagne’s most polished work.

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