Down With OPB – The Hollow Earth

Ya down with OPB? Yeah, you know me.

OPB means Other People’s Books, which means I’m talking about fiction other than my own. In theory, given what this site is about, that means I should be trying to track down obscure superhero novels and review/recap them. In practice, I’m mainly going to be pimping out work by people I know and like.

First up, a dude I first encountered in the Codex writers group on-line, Mr. Steven Savile. He has published a lot of novels through Games Workshop as well as media tie-novels for series like Dr. Who and Torchwood, and is lately publishing his own original work. His thriller Silver sold well in print and the ebook release is now tearing up Amazon’s charts. The Hollow Earth and Other Stories (From the Annals of the Greyfriar’s Gentleman’s Club) is a collection of macabre stories with a proximate connection to Digger.

Which is to say that the connection has nothing to do with theme or content, but simply proximity. One of the stories in this collection, “A Madness of Ravens,” had its first publication in the anthology Daikaiju! 3: Giant Monsters vs. the World (and was, in my opinion, the best story in the volume). The story directly after it was “Out of His League,” my first Digger story (which can be heard in a special audio presentation here), and his was a tough act to follow.

There are three stories in the volume: “The Hollow Earth,” “A Madness of Ravens,” and “The Mechanisms of Grief.” The stories all take place in Victorian England, in a world where both magic and clockwork super-science exist (assuming all three take place in the same continuity, given the branding in the sub-title).

Perhaps strangely for a collection of stories within the same milieu by the same author, the stories vary widely in tone. “The Hollow Earth” is a gory tale of demons and sorcery, while “A Madness of Ravens” is an action-packed tale of a sort-of giant monster battle between sorcerers. “The Mechanisms of Grief,” on the other hand, is a quiet tale, with advanced mechanical science taking the place of magic in the story.

Although “The Hollow Earth” is the lead story, it’s my least favorite of the three. The writing is a little too florid, the gore a little over-the-top.  And there’s a lot of build-up for less payoff than I would have liked.

On the other hand, I’ve already said I really liked “A Madness of Ravens.” The giant monster menace is a really unusual take on the idea, and Savile’s interpretation of magic fits his setting very well. I had a little trouble getting into “The Mechanisms of Grief” (truthfully, all three stories suffer a little from meandering beginnings), but once it got rolling, I enjoyed it.

The link above is to the Kindle edition, which is only 99 cents! Seriously, that’s a great value.

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