Friday, 5 June 2009

An Early Review for The Basingstoke Chronicles!

My time travel adventure novel The Basingstoke Chronicles won't be released until August at Uncial Press, but I've just received a very early (and glowing) review. Check it out:

A Caribbean Adventure to Dream Of

Appleton, Robert. The Basingstoke Chronicles. Aloha, OR: Uncial Press, 2009.

Who does not long for “an impromptu Caribbean adventure, without a care in the world”? For the armchair traveler who yearns for days of yore, The Basingstoke Chronicles by Robert Appleton is the perfect answer. After being introduced, in the prologue, to this first-person account by Lord Basingstoke on a “winter’s night [December 16th, 1901] on the shingle of Ten Gulls Beach in Devon, southern England”, the first chapter transposes the reader to a more recent, though still distant, “grey evening in 1979, a few miles outside Bucharest…”

Arriving at a semi-annual Archaeological Society get-together with his good friends, the guileful Lord Brooke and the beautiful Lady Brooke, “fine archaeologists both”, the slightly tipsy Lord Basingstoke finds the gothic stone decorated home of Georghe Dumitrescu, “a wealthy industrialist of some note in Eastern Europe”, much smaller than he had imagined. Immediately establishing rapport with Lord Basingstoke by swigging in tandem from his hip flask, his seemingly empathetic host horrifies the distinguished gathering by presenting the riddle of a partly decomposed body as the centre point in his “personal prologue to the evening”. Most startling of all was the fine Incan embroidered clothing in which the partially incinerated and fully drowned victim had been found drifting off the Cuban coast two weeks before.

The next setting, naturally, is Cuba, in which less rarified environs the narrator at once becomes Baz, Lord Brooke Sam, and Lady Brooke Ethel, whose flirtation with Baz adds a touch of spicy romanticism to the tale. Meeting up with Rodrigo, his companion for the adventures to come, the focus is from now on fully directed towards the scuba diving expedition on which they are about to embark. But first, the author reveals his familiarity with Cuban topography in his description of Jagua Bay, in Cienfuegos, the “Pearl of the South”, as “once a stalking ground for pirates and corsairs”.

Appleton’s cracking pace of narration flows smoothly and poetically, faster than the tides, while, at the same time, conjuring up visions of the Caribbean, always alert to “savor the pungent balm of a saline breeze”. The reader is inevitably drawn into the narrator’s love of the sea, a love that surely embodies the author’s own admiration for the underwater realms.

At the core of this fast-paced novel lies the questioning of the stabilizing nature of time as “embedded in the fabric of cause and effect” emanating from Baz’s discovery of a time machine lying at the bottom of the ocean. And so to pre-existing times…The scientific explanations of phenomena present in Appleton’s fictional scenarios not only show how knowledgeable he is about such natural features as tropical rainforests, but also add significantly to the realism of the scenes depicted. Baz’s sense of affinity with the bear, that he later names Darkly after the forest in which he appears, strengthens the reader’s awareness of the narrator’s (read author’s) appreciation of the natural environment. The keen interest shown in other lands and places reveals itself in the detailed descriptions of the village life that the chief protagonists encounter on the island of Apterona.

Possessing the descriptive power of a modern day Jules Verne and the narrative pace of a twenty-first century Sir Rider Haggard, don’t let Robert Appleton’s easy flowing, yet thoughtfully worded, adventure just drift on by!

--Lois C. Henderson

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