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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smarter than the Average Steampunk
I find myself in something of a quandary with how many stars to give 'The Martian Ambassador'. It is an enjoyable Steampunk novel that breathes fresh life into some tired ideas. It is not however a perfect novel, the ending is rushed, and obvious questions about Baker's world, that may have inconvenient answers, are simply ignored. So four stars then? Well yes, but...
Published on 16 Dec 2011 by Quicksilver

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
I like reading science fiction/fantasy but this is my first venture into the realms of steampunk I was curious to see for myself what all the fuss was about in this revitalised genre. However, I seem to be in the minority in my opinion but I have to say I was disappointed - I thought it started out strong with great ideas and interesting characters I liked Thomas and...
Published on 19 April 2012 by Samantha


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, 19 April 2012
By 
Samantha (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martian Ambassador (Paperback)
I like reading science fiction/fantasy but this is my first venture into the realms of steampunk I was curious to see for myself what all the fuss was about in this revitalised genre. However, I seem to be in the minority in my opinion but I have to say I was disappointed - I thought it started out strong with great ideas and interesting characters I liked Thomas and Sophia they made a nice combination, I am a fan of Star Trek so enjoyed the idea of Mars and Earth joining forces and sharing technology. However, mid-way through it began to lose its way and by the the time we hit faerieland I was disengaged and bored. It tried to pack too much in, too many ideas. Who was responsible was revealed too early so the suspense was lost for me. Reminds me somewhat of the Quatermass/War of the Worlds but lacks the nostalgia element that I feel when watching them despite the language "You'll swing for this, you filthy bounder!" But may I say if you like Dr Who then this will be right up your street.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smarter than the Average Steampunk, 16 Dec 2011
By 
Quicksilver (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martian Ambassador (Paperback)
I find myself in something of a quandary with how many stars to give 'The Martian Ambassador'. It is an enjoyable Steampunk novel that breathes fresh life into some tired ideas. It is not however a perfect novel, the ending is rushed, and obvious questions about Baker's world, that may have inconvenient answers, are simply ignored. So four stars then? Well yes, but regular readers of my reviews (Hello Mum!) will know I have formed an attachment to George Mann's Newbury and Hobbes series, which I have also given four stars. Baker's novel is superior to Mann's in almost every way. So as far star rating goes consider 'The Affinity Bridge' a generous 3.5, and 'The Martian Ambassador' a curmudgeonly 4.5.

So why did I like Baker's novel so much? For a start, it's the lack of fog. This is a re-imagined Victorian England, but the introduction of Martian technology, has enabled the author to avoid the usual industrial-revolution-in-overdrive clichés. Second is Baker's reverence for the genre's forebears. There are a number of small homages to the writers that have come before him (such has having had one of the Martian craft come down in Woking). His references are seldom heavy-handed and it gives the novel an extra depth; something else for the reader to look for. Finally, Baker has had a pretty good stab at doing what nearly all great Sci-Fi novels do; using an other-worldly setting to hold a lens to modern society. They seem obvious when stated starkly, but Baker offers a subtle examination of racism, arms-dealing and war-crimes. He asks, what measures are reasonable for a state to defend itself, and looks (crudely) at the role of the press in stirring up mass-hysteria.

There are some complaints on these pages, that Baker's use of Faeries, and his mystical Aether, are not in keeping with the genre's traditions, but I found this approach refreshing. As a story, the novel doesn't quite work all the way through (most notably the Villain makes the classic megalomaniac mistake of not just killing James Bond), but 'The Martian Ambassador' is the start of a fresh new series, that manages to stand out from a cluttered field.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic and not a George Mann Clone, 25 May 2011
By 
Dean Jones (Essex UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martian Ambassador (Paperback)
I absolutely loved this novel. I have loved the subject of Martian life in fiction all my life from 'War of the worlds' through to 'Princess of Mars' and 'Gulliver's vacation'. When I first ordered this book I suspected it would be good but much in the style of George Mann/ Both write steam punk detective novels in Victorian London with a duo of a man and woman, but there the simulartiy ends. The Martian Ambassador feels more like the fiction of a hundred years past when Sci-Fi and Fantasy were not separated. It's a heady blend of genres set against a beautifully crafted world.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sherlock Holmes meets War of the Worlds!, 18 May 2011
This review is from: The Martian Ambassador (Paperback)
My wife bought this book for me last month as she thought this would be right up my street. She wasn't wrong!
She actually came across Alan Baker's work on a writers and readers forum site and was fortunate enough to read this book in its unpublished form before it was actually taken on by a publisher.

Alan Baker writes with a superb imagination and the world he depicts and creates really pulled me in to the point where I needed a few coffees to keep me going, I didn't want to stop reading. I've always loved a mix of good old fashioned mystery and science fiction, the term 'Steam Punk' stirred up all sorts of things in my mind but essentially I guess it just boils down to a mix of the two things I've mentioned and the associated technologies of differing time periods (past, present and future). The idea of old technology and values mixing with those far more advanced worked really well in this book. The old fashioned Victorian 'Sherlock Holmes' plot line of the story flowed nicely too and as much as there is science fiction in this book there's a remarkable realism to everything in Alan's descriptions so that you really can say, yes that could happen. Ok, we are talking about humans and Martians living together here but even so, the rate at which technology has raced in the last few years, who knows what will be found in the future. Of course there are some parts where things are make believe but it just seemed to work. Like the previous review here I felt that I was also reading a 'visual book' in that it is something I could almost definitely see being shown as a television programme or film. I particularly enjoyed the character of Ingrid Cold (the main villain in this story), cleverly put together and ultra devious with his own very sinister twist. I wouldn't wish to give too much away about this book as I think the blurb sets the tone of the book nicely.
If you like your mystery science-fiction with a mix of old and very new technology as well as the ideals of times gone by as well as those that may be in our future then this should be in your reading list. I also believe there is a sequel to this book coming which leans more to the supernatural. Sounds like it will be another fab read and it looks as though we'll be seeing a lot more of Blackwood and Harrington in the 'Steam Punk' genre in future.

As far as I'm concerned I can highly recommend this book, hence the 5 genuine stars. I glad to have had such an introduction to the world of the 'Steam Punk' Hope it does well too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new experience, 17 April 2012
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having never read steampunk I was a little dubious about it but this was a well written intersting tale that took me out of myself and really enjoyed.

Take a gamble today!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Scotland Temple - Marvellous, 30 Jan 2012
This review is from: The Martian Ambassador (Paperback)
How can one not enjoy a book where the Templars are standing in for the Metroplitan police ? Characters are still Victorian in appearance and in attitude, which helps make the setting more consistent. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The devil you say!", 5 Jan 2012
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martian Ambassador (Paperback)
This is the first novel of what I believe is the "steampunk" genre that I have read; so stand to be corrected on its classification.

The story itself is enjoyable; a slightly alternative Victorian England which has built a relationship with Mars (despite the initial alarm caused to inhabitants of Horsell Common - a sly reference to H G Wells' War of the Worlds). Queen Victoria still rules England the Empire; but there are diplomatic relations with Mars and a Martian Ambassador in London - when the Ambassador is killed, the risk of Mars and the World falling into war becomes more of a reality. What can Special Investigator Thomas Blackwood, joined by Lady Sophia Harrington, do to prevent war and to find the real cause of the death and mayhem - and what does Spring-Heeled Jack have to do with all this?

This is a great setup - there are Martian technologies being used on earth, and steam-driven apparatus even in human prosthetics. But ... and there is a but. I found the whole "Faerie Realm" to be a let-down in the book. This was an element that just didn't seem to sit right; and to be honest, let the tone of the book down. It seemed a cop-out that when things got into a tight corner, there was a convenient member of the Faerie kingdom there just ready to pop out of a faerie mound and put things to right. Just didn't seem to be necessary! Surely the novel could, and should, have been able to have been crafted without having to resort to faeries and djinn. I found myself really enjoying the parts of the book with the Martians (and others, whom I won't mention for spoiler), and the technologies - and skipping over the "Faerie Realm" parts. A shame.

I shall continue with this type of genre, though - I have Mark Hodder's The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack sitting on the shelves - and will see what else lies out there. I'd really like to read more of Alan Baker's books, too, as this one was really well written - the story compels the reader on and the plot outline is good - it's just those darn faeries!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Yet More Fog and Airships, 14 Feb 2012
This review is from: The Martian Ambassador (Paperback)
Another alternative Victorian London that's now becoming an all to familiar sight. It's London, it's foggy, there's airships, Spring-Heeled Jack of course - everything you would expect from Fozzygig's patent Steampunk Plot Computational Engine. The Martian connection was a reasonable development but fell prey to daft-name-itis. Having lots of apostrophes in your name does not make it more exotic. Lord Pannick reminded me of the bloke from the Go-Compare ad. Sorry to have such a downer on this book but I really do feel it was yet another Steampunk by numbers when it could have been so much more. Perhaps the next one will have more promise.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Martian Ambassador, 14 May 2011
This review is from: The Martian Ambassador (Paperback)
This was one of the best books I have read in a while. I was a little dubious at first, just because I had no idea what 'steampunk' was. I'm not sure that I do now, but it doesn't matter. The story was entertaining from start to finish, with a well plotted and executed story line that was intricate yet not too complicated.
I loved the characters, especially the hero and heroine, Blackwood and Lady Sophia Harrington, and they have so much more mileage left in them for many more adventures. Indrid Cole was also a brilliant creation too.
The juxtaposition of two worlds in Victorian London sounds impossible but it worked brilliantly, without it being too 'Doctor Who'ish. The description of the settings was so realistic too.
The book had a very visual feel to it, and I could see it being adapted for television.
This is certainly an original, gripping read, and I can't wait to read the next one.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful adventure story in the style of early H.G. Wells, 13 Jun 2011
This review is from: The Martian Ambassador (Paperback)
It would be a shame if this excellent homage to H.G. Wells would go unnoticed in the current flood of steampunk novels, because it is so much better than most. Like many steamPUNK novels, there is no 'punk' here - during the 1890s, when Wells' main works were published, to the 1930s when the term 'science fiction' took over, this would have been called a 'scientific romance'. It is a romance novel? Of course not (though there is some minor romance element), but more importantly: neither is it a 'mystery' - despite the claim on the cover.
I was first attracted to the book by the fantastic loo(c)king cover (uncredited unfortunately) and by the promise of a Holmesian mystery revolving around a Martian ambassador. The back cover-text btw is accurate and does not contain major spoilers - I dare any SF-fan to read it and not consider buying/reading the book!
I am not disappointed that this is not a mystery by most definitions, and future titles - of which there will hopefully be many - may well be 'proper' mysteries with SF-elements - all the elements are in place. For a first novel, the characters, heroes and villains alike, are well drawn, the setting simply excellent and well researched and the way Wellsian stories are incorporated deserves applause. The plotting is handled perfectly, the pace is fast without being bogged down with too much background information (though it must have been tempting). Quibbles? Too few to talk about in detail. The ending is a bit rushed, but in style with this type of adventure novel and a few terms (joystick) should have been caught by the editor.
I am more than happy to give this first novel five stars and can honestly say that is very rare that I buy the hardback for my collection after I've already bought and read the paperback edition. More, please!
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The Martian Ambassador
The Martian Ambassador by Alan K. Baker (Paperback - 1 Mar 2011)
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