“Retribution Falls” by Chris Wooding (2009)
It’s actually quite embarrassing to realise that it has taken me 6 weeks to read this book. It’s a very good book. There is no blame to be laid upon the novel for this ridiculously slow read. The blame lies in my diary and my workload and my dedication to running… not in the narrative.
“Retribution Falls” is a rollicking, steam punk adventure story about a group of scruffy ne’er-do-wells aboard an airship in a ‘retro-future world’. The captain of the airship Ketty Jay, Darian Frey, is honestly a reasonably unlikable bloke, and his crew aren’t particularly appealing either. But somehow their dumb luck and bumbling style makes them ridiculously appealing. They take a job far too good to be true and it all goes pear-shaped as was so obviously going to be the case. From there, they jerk and bump from problem to solution to new problem to new solution.
What I loved about this book was the way in which ideas and concepts completely foreign to me made perfect sense. Wooding has a skill for weaving the unknown into the known in a confident, science fiction style that immediately allows you to become an informed observer of a world you don’t actually have the first clue about. This is effective and engaging writing in an adventure story that keeps you guessing and keeps you hoping.
The entire time I was reading I kept seeing comparisons between this novel and the ill-fated television series, Firefly, and a quick check online shows that I’m far from alone in this comparison. If you haven’t read the book or watched the series you should address your oversight in either or both directions.