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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Steampunk that works!
I didn't think I was going to enjoy this - I'd originally bought it for my OH - so included it on my TBR Challenge for this year. I'd had an earlier, relatively unsuccessful foray into steampunk so I approached this with some trepidation.....

It's London under Victoria's reign, but ground trains and electric hansom cabs run along the streets, and airships rule...
Published on 28 Jun. 2011 by SazzyMCH

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars By-The-Numbers and not as 'steampunk' as it thinks it is...
Recipe for a steampunk novel: You will need:

1 victorian London - present.
A variety of steam-driven machines - present.
Several improbably capable clockwork automata - present.
Lots and lots of airships - check.

But:

1 involving 'ripping yarn' of a plot - missing
several interesting characters - absent
plenty of...
Published on 3 Dec. 2011 by J. D. Burnell


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars By-The-Numbers and not as 'steampunk' as it thinks it is..., 3 Dec. 2011
By 
J. D. Burnell - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Affinity Bridge (Paperback)
Recipe for a steampunk novel: You will need:

1 victorian London - present.
A variety of steam-driven machines - present.
Several improbably capable clockwork automata - present.
Lots and lots of airships - check.

But:

1 involving 'ripping yarn' of a plot - missing
several interesting characters - absent
plenty of atmosphere - nope
a handful of plot twists the reader can't spot a mile off - uh uh.

This just doesn't work.

Dialogue: others have noted the dreadfully non-victorian dialogue; here's another example: people in the nineteenth century didn't say "How the devil are you?" - that's what modern people say if they are pretending to be cod-victorians.

Scene-setting: I never once believed I was in victorian London - even a steampunk version of it. There's no scenery, no colour, nothing to put me in the place. Compare Pullman's Sally Lockhart stories for how to do that really well.

Technology: I'm not convinced Mann knows his history of science and engineering. An example: one of the main characters goes back to her apartment and lights a gas grill to make some toast. In 1901? Not (completely) chronologically impossible, but it's hugely unlikely, and certainly unusual enough for it to be commented on in the text, if the writer had realised that and wasn't just being lazy.

He also never really talks about the way technology has changed society, except in banner-waving statements about clockwork robots putting people out of work, and that's never examined in any more detail. So even the technology he does discuss comes across as a two-dimensional maguffin - it's just 'Oo look! There's a steam taxi! Right, on with the plot.'

Even that I could cope with if the plot cracked on enough, but it doesn't. It plods, and when you don't really care about the two-dimensional characters that's not something you can get away with.

The cover sums up the whole book - superficially steampunk but look closer and you'll be disappointed. It's desperately trying to be steampunk, but the main image is a stock shot of a zeppelin with a very simple, non-victorian and not-very-well-drawn gondola tacked on badly at the bottom.

Avoid.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not too sure about this one, 2 Feb. 2010
This review is from: The Affinity Bridge (Paperback)
This was my first experience of a steam punk novel, not sure if it will be my last. The story revolves around the the investigation into an airship crash in Victorian London, with zombies clockwork robots and glowing ghostly policeman thrown in for good measure. heading up this investigation is the partnership between Sir Maurice Newbury and his female assistant Hobbes.

Now obviously the main protagonist has to have a major failing, he just wouldn't be a detective if he didn't have some failing. In this case it is an addiction to laudanum. Here in lies my first problem with this book, why does he have to have an addiction, especially laudanum, this seems to de the drug of choice for Victorian detectives.

Secondly, everything bar the Kitchen sink is thrown into the mix, secret meetings with the monarchy, clockwork powered robots, a slightly dubious scientist, a power mad business man, and lets not forget fog shrouded streets of London. Yet for all these things Mann, never to truly capture any sense or fell of Victorian London, regardless of its steam punk leanings. Reading this novel it was hard pushed to imagine the characters walking around London, even though all that was missing was a young boy shouting "shine your shoes guv'nor.

The novel read flat, at no point did I feel compelled to turn the page. Yet, this is where it becomes murky, would I recommend this novel to someone else, no I wouldn't, but will I buy the sequel, probably. There is a really good pulp novel sitting here, waiting to be edited and rewritten in to leaner more fast paced story. Hopefully the second novel sees a progression in the writing, with a few off the clichés thrown out in favour of some more original thoughts and ideas.

This novels deserve 2 and half outr of five.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 14 May 2009
This review is from: The Affinity Bridge (Paperback)
Like others I bought this on the strength of the excellent cover, having no knowledge of the author - and overall I enjoyed it. Whilst the characters and the setting are familiar and the debt to Sherlock Holmes etc is clear, thats OK with me - its SF! The plot is nicely put together, with everything from zombies to airships thrown into the mix and I can forgive any implausibilties such as the lead characters powers of regeneration.

There are the makings of a nice series here and the author knows it, eg references to other adventures such as the 'Hambleton affair'. I wish him luck. For me though the writing style was the real problem and never drew me in. Some of the dialogue really grated (eg "you can choose to help us or choose to create a situation for yourself" - in 1901?).

I can't recommend this book overall. I think the reviewer who classed this book as a missed opportunity pretty much summed it up. I hope that the author can round out the characters in future episodes, as the setting should give him plenty of room to play in.

I never thought that this book would be my first Amazon review. What prompted me was this: I can't be the first to wonder whether the reviewer Lou Anders is the same quoted on the front cover of my copy ("I absolutely loved it"), and thanked by the author in his acknowledgements. I feel that somehow he should have mentioned this in his review, if true.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I paid money for this?, 21 Mar. 2013
This review is from: The Affinity Bridge (Paperback)
I'm sorry to say that I've given this book two stars rather than one because I have, in fact, read worse.

Story-wise, it's mildly intriguing, though I made the mistake of not consuming it in one fell swoop, and, having once put it down, found I wasn't sufficiently invested in either the plot or the characters to get back into it. Neither grabbed me. After I made the second mistake of reading the end, I had no desire to wade through what I'd missed.

There are problems with this book that I found insurmountable:
- leaden prose
- boring bits describing people doing perfectly mundane stuff that contributes nothing to the flow of the story
- characterisation straight from the GCSE handbook of how to write stories
- obviously very quickly written

AND...

Well, this was the final nail in the coffin for me: disgraceful copy-editing. It would be disappointing to know that a writer didn't know the difference between loathe/loath, or hanger/hangar, may/might, or belie/betray - to pick just four examples - but to have such grotesque mistakes (and more) make it into print is simply shoddy. I'm an editor, and since my work is to ensure that the text I work with is as perfect as it can be before the public reads it, I feel insulted to be confronted with this ... thing... when I've actually paid money for it.

In the "About the Author" section of the book, we learn that "George Mann is the head of a major SF/Fantasy publishing imprint." Is it too cynical of me to wonder whether this had anything to do with this novel making it to the sales floor in such an unworthy condition?
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Steampunk Detective Desperately Seeks Editor, 10 Jun. 2010
By 
Woolgatherer (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Affinity Bridge (Paperback)
This was an interesting concept, spoiled by some sloppy writing and poor plotting.

If an author is trying to create an alternative world, I think that it is important to make sure the details are credible to maintain the illusion.

So, for example, we asked to believe that Miss Hobbes, who is described as having a, "dainty but full figure," (whatever that means), can break down a door and then drag an unconscious, fully grown man onto a bed. Later Miss Hobbes is distracted by a shouted warning, having managed to ignore Newbury crashing through a locked door to reach her (doors get smashed open fairly frequently, building standards are pretty poor in this alternative world).

Then there is use of language. For example we are told (twice) that Mrs Bradshaw has a Scottish accent, but at one point she says, "...I ain't about to try and find out." No Scot would say "ain't." Write idiomatically if you must, but at least choose the correct idiom. Similarly most of the time the characters speak over formally, but occasionally anachronistic (in its proper sense) language slips in, such as "are you okay".

Worst of all, any fan of Dr Who can work out the mystery pretty quickly, and the resolution is not due to Newbury's less than outstanding powers of deduction but to his ability to fight off various assailants.

After a while I was only reading this (I was trapped on a train) to spot its mistakes and infelicities. All in all, this was a poor effort designed to cash in on the popularity of this genre. Although Miss Hobbes is eminently fanciable (she has pearly white thighs and can put you to bed when you are comatose, what more could you want?), I won't be following her further adventures.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Steampunk that works!, 28 Jun. 2011
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This review is from: The Affinity Bridge (Paperback)
I didn't think I was going to enjoy this - I'd originally bought it for my OH - so included it on my TBR Challenge for this year. I'd had an earlier, relatively unsuccessful foray into steampunk so I approached this with some trepidation.....

It's London under Victoria's reign, but ground trains and electric hansom cabs run along the streets, and airships rule the skies.........and a plague like virus is making people zombie like (although for those of you who aren't zombie fans- or revenants as Mann calls them - don't fear, it's not the dominant story. I really enjoyed the detective duo - neither of whom are perfect and both have their secrets and darker sides - and I loved the murky and dark setting of a slightly off kilter Victorian London. The author did a great job of setting the scene just enough for my imagination to fill the rest of it in.

Wonderful book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's Good, But Not GREAT., 4 Mar. 2011
By 
L. E. Jones - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Affinity Bridge (Paperback)
I love steampunk. There is no doubt about that. If there is a book with the word 'Steampunk' on the front I will buy it, regardless of the story.
The circumstances were similar for 'The Affinity Bridge'. I saw it in my local Waterstones and bought it expecting a tale of, what the blurb described, robots and zombie fighting goodness.

Yes, it had all of it! A brilliant read! But my problem with this book was it took too long.
By this I mean that It took to long to explain some of the key points, like The Affinity Bridge itself which is explained at the VERY END of the book.
And the pacing of some of the events, that was another bother to me.

But by all means, BUY THIS BOOK!
It is a good read, but don't expect a thrill of a life time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Promising Start, 24 Aug. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Affinity Bridge (Paperback)
As I sat down to write this review, I found myself wondering what first drew me to this book. Was it my keen interest in the steampunk genre? Was it a familiarity with the previous works of the author? Perhaps it was due to a glowing review I had read? Alas, it was none of these reasons. I first picked this novel up because I think the front cover was kind of cool. Not the most informed or sensible way to make such a choice but, thankfully, it paid dividends.
The Affinity Bridge is an entry in the increasingly popular steampunk genre. It's 1901 London has airships, brass automata, a plethora of steam-driven inventions and an entrenched Queen Victoria, kept alive by numerous contraptions in a life-preserving chair.
Our lead character comes in the form of Sir Maurice Newbury. Whilst officially an authority on paleontology, working out of the national museum, he also happens to be a highly skilled expert on the occult and an agent to Her Majesty the Queen. Newbury has a flavour of Sherlock Holmes about him, even sharing the same opium vice as Conan Doyle's famed detective. Yet Mann's character does seem to make at least some effort to fit into the polite society of the time. Aiding him in his many endeavours is Miss Veronica Hobbes, a strong-willed and socially progressive young woman whose keen mind and determination make her the perfect companion for Newbury. There is a great deal of respect between them, as well as poorly-concealed romantic interest.
Completing the trio of principal characters is Sir Charles Bainbridge. Not only is he Newbury's best friend, but also Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard and another of Her Majesty's agents. He represents a more grounded and traditionally Victorian character in contrast to his friend's brilliant, but slight unstable, mind.
The story begins with them both looking into a series of attacks seemingly linked to sightings of a phantom policeman. However, Newbury's attentions are soon diverted elsewhere when he is commanded to investigate an airship crash on behalf of the Queen. Soon, he and Miss Hobbes find themselves dealing transport magnates, crazed inventors, dastardly machines and a revenant plague that is sweeping through the slums of London.
Whilst the investigation element to the story is not particularly complex, it still succeeds in holding your attention. You quickly find yourself caring for the characters (particularly Newbury and Hobbes) and the story has a pace that, whilst not incredibly fast, is steady and consistent. The action scenes are of particular note, and that are clearly a strength of Mann's. He expertly brings you right into the very centre of the action and these moments certainly have a cinematic quality to them.
Whilst the world in which these characters inhabit feels slightly small, its quirky take on a technologically advanced 'steampunk' society is thoroughly enjoyable and certainly has one hopeful of further adventures in which the scope can be broadened.
Most importantly, for me personally, is the fact that, in spite of a few flaws, this book was just damn good fun. It reflects an author who seems to have had an extremely positive experience in the creation of this novel.
I'd recommend this book to fans of adventures, murder mysteries or just those curious about the steampunk genre.
All-in-all, an entertaining read that shows great promise for the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clockwork and steam, 7 Jun. 2009
By 
EA Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Affinity Bridge (Hardcover)
It's a pretty brilliant idea for a novel -- an special agent of Queen Victoria, sent out to deal with weird and supernatural threats.

And the concept fits in seamlessly in George Mann's first novel "The Affinity Bridge," which reads like Arthur Conan Doyle decided to write a thriller set in a steampunk fantasy world. It's an engaging story written in a slow-moving but detailed style, and Mann keeps things interesting by peppering his story with all sorts of strange twists -- airships, clockwork robots, and zombie plagues. The only flaw is the underwritten leads.

While investigating a string of strangulations in the Whitechapel area, Sir Maurice Newbury is called away by the ailing Queen Victoria -- an airship has crashed in Finsbury Park.

With the help with his assistant Veronica Hobbes, Newbury soon discovers that the airship may have crashed and burned because it was being piloted by an automaton -- a clockwork robot that is mysteriously absent from the wreckage. They start investigating the manufacturers of both the automaton and the airship, Chapman and Villiers, but haven't got much more than a bad vibe from Chapman and a creepy history from Villiers.

Unfortunately the two cases -- strangulation and airship -- intertwine when a potential informant is strangled in Whitechapel. Newbury and Hobbes investigate further, but Whitechapel is full of more dangers than just the strangler, since there are also zombielike flesh-eating plague victims wandering around the place. And when a badly wounded Newbury is attacked by a pair of lethal automatons, he discovers the horrifying facts behind their creation.

Steam-powered carriages, clockwork robots, airships and the occasional mad scientist with a giant sewing machine -- while the Victorian London of "Affinity Bridge" isn't radically different from our own, George Mann adds all sorts of weird little details into his story. And those steampunkian items aren't just surface flash to make the whole book cooler and more fantastical -- the complex, winding mystery hinges on some of these fictional inventions.

To match his story, Mann also writes in a sort of modern-Victorian style -- richly detailed, atmospheric and full of mannered interactions. But he also spins up some fast-paced, bloody action scenes and grotesque fights (particularly with the "zombies" and automatons), as well as a climactic chase through the airshipyards. The secret of why the automatons are malfunctioning is a shocker, and Mann evokes just the right amount of horror from it.

And as a mystery writer, Mann does an excellent job winding together different mysteries in a plausible manner, even if the bad guy's identity is quite clear early on in the book (though not necessarily the how and why). And there are substantial plot threads left hanging -- especially in the epilogue -- hinting at future stories.

The biggest problem is the characterizations, which never feel entirely fleshed out -- okay, Maurice is a Holmesian genius with a weakness for laudanum and a rather murky history that seems to be made up as it goes along. Hobbes is a smart, capable woman who can do her own investigations. Although they are fairly likable characters, neither one is really expanded beyond their basic outlines -- especially since we hear hardly anything about their daily lives, their pasts, their families, et cetera.

"The Affinity Bridge" suffers from underwritten lead characters, but has a solid mystery plot and a richly-imagined steampunk world. If he can flesh them out a little, the next Newbury and Hobbes book is sure to be a pure delight.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ruined by clumsy writing, 5 Jan. 2010
By 
Ian Mackenzie (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Affinity Bridge (Paperback)
I really wanted to like The Affinity Bridge. The cover looks great, the 'steampunk 'genre is enticing, the themes seemed right up my street.
George Mann's writing style lets him down, sadly - it's clunky and repetitive and peppered with errors. There are some real howlers that still make it past the editor somehow. A real shame, but Mann's style had me scowling and exclaiming out loud. The same things are described in the same words just too many times. I almost didn't finish the book, but plowed on and found that the plot ties up with enough loose threads to weave together another few books yet.
I WILL be giving George Mann another chance, and will check out his second (and maybe the forthcoming third) book.
I really wanted to like The Affinity Bridge, but in the end just found it 'tolerable'.
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The Affinity Bridge
The Affinity Bridge by George Mann (Hardcover - 1 July 2008)
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