The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack
The word is finally out: the winner of this year’s Philip K. Dick Award (judged by yours truly, with a panel of other worthies) is a delightful debut novel by Mark Hodder, called The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack. Full of manic, inventive energy, bizarre villains, a whirling plot as mad as some of the characters, it nevertheless delivers a complete and satisfying conclusion that wraps up every loose end. The alternate Victorian world is rich with detail and betrays a deep knowledge of the true history of our world, even as Hodder twists it almost to the breaking point to tell his tale. The characters are motivated by all kinds of unusual passions, but are both believable and sympathetic, even as the world around them goes mad. Ambitious, full of surprises, and very satisfying.