Review: A Red Sun Also Rises
I don’t know if I can accurately describe just how excited I was to dive into this book. Mark Hodder’s Adventures of Burton and Swinburne were some of the most amazing books that I read in the last few years. Major anticipation in this corner. So the fact that this book was nothing like I thought it would be, AND ended up being Science Fiction, AND I still really liked it says something impressive about Mr. Hodder and his burgeoning array of great stories.
A RED SUN ALSO RISES (Amazon), to all appearances, is a stand-alone novel in the same vein as Hodder’s previous trilogy and definitely a not book that you’d find Arthur Krystal picking up at your local bookstore. Go ahead and check out the very fine book cover and tell me that it doesn’t make your mind just go, SPROING! Seriously great artwork there. And the story ain’t half bad either!
Inside, we delve into the life of Aiden Fleischer, a priest struggling to make the connection between playing the part of a man of the cloth and actually being one in truth. In short order, a woman comes into his life, Miss Clarissa Stark, and the both of them are soon romping around an alien planet, filled with the weird and strange lifeforms of Mr. Hodder’s supreme imagination and trying to understand just what kind of world they’ve been thrown into. Massive bag aliens, and hybrid wolf aliens, and aliens erupting from other aliens-aliens. Seriously wild stuff.
The background is built upon many aspects of the history of our world, introduces a very large change, and then flies into the speculative stratosphere. Unlike Hodder’s previous books, RED SUN was very much enamored with two foci that I see as being highly important to Science Fiction: exploration of the unknown and the exploration of God. An overwhelmingly large portion of the book was devoted to these two ideas, and yet they were all wrapped up and woven throughout the tapestry of the over-arching story so well that they frequently disappeared amongst the strata. A good thing in my book.
The downside was that the development of these aspects overtook a few of the other very important pieces of the story. Those being characterization and direction. Fleischer’s character is well-drawn during the beginning of the book. Inner-torment over his priestly duties and his understanding of God and the presence of evil in the world (by way of a Jack the Ripper cameo) paint the conflict within Fleischer very well. Once the new venue made a showing however, the book made a pretty large shift. The adventure portion of the story took hold, and consequently the direction of the plot also became a bit more nebulous. This did make the story drag a bit in parts, especially toward the middle, but the end made for a rip-roaring mash-up where all the cards finally came tumbling out of Mr. Hodder’s hand. I really liked how it all turned out.
I think Hodder’s fans will like this new adventure, especially those whose tastes tend more toward the realm of Science Fiction. It’s a relatively short read with a interesting premise, logical plot progression (peppered with wandering exploration), and a satisfying ending that will remind Hodder’s readers of all the things they love about his work. Definitely one to add to the old bookshelves.
- Recommended Age: 18+
- Language: Very low
- Violence: Themes surrounding Jack the Ripper. Quite grisly and violent in sections.
- Sex: Inclusion of sex without any scenes or real description