Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Burning Sky / Joseph Robert Lewis

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Fantasy/Thriller/Steampunk

Approximate word count: 130-135,000 words

Kindle US:
YES UK: YES Nook: YES Smashwords: YES Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


Lewis says he began his career writing “about deadly firefights in Afghanistan and Iraq, studying cutting-edge information technologies, and chronicling personal journeys of exploration around the world.” (That sounds like he was a writer in the military to me.) He now writes novels, with eight available in multiple genres plus an omnibus edition of the Halcyon Trilogy. For more, visit Lewis’ website.


Airship engineer Tazri Ohana survives an attack on the airfield and is drafted to help chase the criminals responsible. This is the first book in the Halcyon trilogy.


I’d heard of the steampunk genre (usually when someone in a forum referenced it as a sub-genre that is underserved by traditional publishers), but don’t think I’ve read anything that fit the definition until now. For those as clueless as I was as to what fits this genre, here is what Wikipedia says:

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually Victorian era Britain—that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc. This technology may include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or more recently Philip Pullman and China Mieville.

Unlike many steampunk novels, The Burning Sky isn’t set in Victorian era Britain, but on an alternate version of the Earth, based on the premise that Europe didn’t emerge from the Ice Age and is mostly uninhabitable. Lewis gives a brief author’s note explaining this and setting expectations. Wikipedia calls steampunk novels with this type setting fantasy or fantasy-world steampunk.

My favorite things about The Burning Sky were the plot, which is a thriller, and understanding the alternative world Lewis has created. The premise of Lewis’ world means the history of the world would have changed; how everything, from science to culture, would have developed differently from the Ice Age to the time the story is set. This makes anticipating how people will react and the direction the story might go more unpredictable. The Burni
ng Sky kept me guessing, right up to its dramatic conclusion.


A small amount of adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four stars


Cookie’s Mom said...

This one looks interesting, Al. I'm not familiar with the genre either, but have been meaning to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.

Joseph said...

Minor update: The Burning Sky is now available in paperback on Amazon.