Saturday, June 30, 2012
Alice's Adventures in Steamland - Wol-vriey
2012; 233 pages. New Author? : Yes. Full Title : Alice's Adventures in Steamland: The Clockwork Goddess. Genre : Bizarre Hybrid. Overall Rating : 6*/10.
Start by thoroughly mixing equal parts of Alice In Wonderland and Steampunk. Next add some finely-diced Jack-The-Ripper. Dump in a cup-and-a-half of sex scenes. Bring to a simmer, and garnish with an Alternate Universe, where 1867 "Victorian America" is split into two queendoms - the North ("New York") ruled by the Red Queen, and the South ("Texas") ruled by her sister, Mech-Anna.
Bake for 200+ pages, and Voila!, you have Alice's Adventures in Steamland.
What's To Like...
AAiS is both original and ambitious. This Alice is an ex-hooker and present paid assassin. The March Hare(s), Cheshire Cat(s), Mad Hatter, and hookah-smoking Caterpillar are all altered in like manner.
Steampunk gets a similar treatment. There are huge mechanical spiders, bionic Indians, 40-meter-high mech rustlers, and a toothy reproductive organ. Especially humorous are the steam-powered firearms. It isn't easy shooting a rifle when you have to wait for the charcoal to heat the water into steam before the bullet can be discharged.
The action is non-stop. I found the sex scenes and foul-langauge to be somewhat excessive, but that's just me. 15-year-old hormonally-plagued boys may disagree. These are all "straight" sex scenes. I get the impression Wol-vriey is somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of gay sex.
Alice is a strong, female lead character; as are the two queens. The male main characters are weaker, but the rabbits are a hoot.
Victorian America, 1867
The train billowed as it chugged into New York.
Catching a glimpse of a Goodyear blimp advertising the new four-speed bicycle, Alice Sin heaved a sigh of relief. She'd made it to the capital without any air strikes. Back in Chicago, she'd heard endless horror stories of travelers being blown to bits by bombs dropped from Texan military airships. (loc. 84; opening paragraphs of the book)
"Leave him - he's mine!" the badger said, sliding back the rifle's bolt to chamber another round. "How dare you kill our mistress, human?"
Jackson let go his thigh, realizing he'd inadvertently disarmed himself. He ducked down and frantically felt beneath the bed for the revolver. His fingers settled upon something hard but slippery. Relieved to have found the pistol butt, he pulled it out to discover that it was only one of Aunt Marie's kidneys.
Kidney in hand, Jackson stood and faced the servants.
It's over, he thought. (loc. 3893)
I downloaded this for free at Amazon, but it is now $2.99. Wol-vriey has a scond book available for Kindle, The Bizarro Story of I, also $2.99.
"What use is it being a wealthy twenty-two year old corpse?" (loc. 4781)
The book reads like a stream-of-consciousness panorama from Wol-vriey's mind. Every other page brings something new and exciting, but when you take a step back, you find that the story-telling is shallow and lacks continuity.
For example, the Jack-The-Ripper subplot is underdeveloped and unnecessary. Finding and capturing him is too conveniently spur-of-the-moment. Ditto for Alice's trek to meet and kill Mech-Anna. After traipsing around all over Texas and getting nowhere, Alice opens a door and, well-glory-be, guess who's there?
Ultimately, Alice's Adventure In Steamland screams to converted into a graphic novel. The writing weakness would be subsumed by the images emanating from Wol-vriey's wondrous imagination. A good artist would be able to soften the language, gore, and sex scenes down to at least R-rated panels. We don't expect depth or scrupulous continuity in comic books, just dazzling artwork and entertaining action.
My eyes drool (deliberate mixed metaphor) in anticipation of what the imaginative Wol-vriey and a gifted artist coud do with this story. 6 Stars. Add two stars if you're a teenage boy, or if this gets converted into a graphic novel.