Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders - Richard Ellis Preston Jr.
The world of Romulus Buckle is unique in its blend of science fiction, steampunk and post-apocalyptic fiction. The result is compelling.

Romulus Buckle is the hero of the tale, but he shares the stage with some fascinating and clearly drawn friends (and enemies). Buckle emerges as a brilliant dirigible captain. The storytelling is just as deft.

Characterisation – check. Coherent world-building – check. Fast pace – check. Distinctive style – check. But what stood out for me was how, without losing momentum or feeling clumsy, tantalising clues were strewn, preparing for future story development.

I received an advance reader copy (which was lovely since I’ve been wanting to read RB’s story for ages), but the downside is that I’m hyper-vigilant not to drop spoilers. Let’s just say there are some seriously interesting twists.

Part of the appeal of steampunk is its unashamed enjoyment of Adventure with a capital A. Our ordinary world becomes remarkable and characters are confronted with high stakes choices—and in RB they’re not comic book heroes. Their responses are nuanced.

I have to come back to the world-building and descriptive power of the book. I could all but smell, taste, feel and shiver at the scenes of battle. The Pneumatic Zeppelin, the dirigible, is a world of her own, and RB hauled me into it. As a sidenote, if you know Los Angeles you’ll be intrigued by its re-imagining.

Romulus Buckle and the City of the Founders is proof that steampunk can inhabit the future as well as the past.