THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF LANGDON ST. IVES

by James P. Blaylock

Subterranean Press

978-1-59606-782-0

396pp/$40.00/July 2016

The Further Adventures of Langdon St. Ives
Cover by J.K. Potter

Reviewed by Steven H Silver


James P. Blaylock has written several stories about his steampunk explorer scientist, Langdon St. Ives. Four of these stories were collected in 2008 in the collection The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives. A collection, however, does not mean the adventures are complete, however, and the following year saw the return of St. Ives in the novella The Ebb Tide. A new collection, The Further Adventures of Langdon St. Ives, collects five newer stories of the explorer, beginning with The Ebb Tide and concluding with two never previously published tales.

The Ebb Tide pits St. Ives and his narrator Jack Owlesby against Hilario Frosticos in a search for an underwater grotto where a mysterious object has fallen from the sky. As with many of Blaylockís tales, the story perfectly captures the Victorian period as well as the sea adventure story wo which it pays homage. The story doesnít have a lot of meat to it, instead relying on the strong sense of location with which it is imbued, but it offers a good introduction to the style of stories which follow.

Frosticos isnít St. Ivesís only nemesis, and in The Affair of the Chalk Cliffs, he finds himself face to face with another one of his old enemies, Dr. Ignacio Narbondo. Moving to land after the sea adventure, St Ives now finds himself at a lighthouse outside a remote seaside village in Kent which has suddenly been infected with a sort of madness. St. Ivesís character is also further fleshed out as his adventures appear to be having an impact on his marriage to Alice.

An ocean voyage comes into play again with The Adventure of the Ring of Stones. While most of St. Ivesís adventures are based on Victorian, or in some cases, Edwardian storytelling tropes, the most direct antecedent for this tale is King Kong, as Gilbert Frobisher returns to London with a giant mollusk. Frobisherís adventure is made more difficult by the appearance of Billy Stoddard, who seeks the giant octopus for his own advancement. Despite the later origins of this story, it retains the Victorian feel that Blaylock has mastered so well for the St. Ivesís stories.

In ďThe Here-and Thereians,Ē Langdon and his wife, Alice, travel down to London for the opera, however when they learn that Gilbert Frobisher has taken up with the latest craze in London, Langdon investigates while Alice continues on to the opera. Unfortunately, Langdon also gets caught up in the craze, which consists of drug use and the purchase of barrels that can be used to put out to sea. While Langdon is immersed in the self-destructive tendencies of the mob, Alice and Tubby Frobisher, along with a young street urchin named Larkin the Just, continue the quest to rescue Gilbert and learn what has happened to Langdon. Alice is allowed to shine in this piece which explores, but does not explain, the sorts of mass hysteria which have broken out at various times in history.

Blaylock ends the collection with another original piece, ďEarthbound Things.Ē A walk in the woods with Vicar Hampson to find some recently discovered Celtic stones goes awry for Langdon St. Ives and it isnít long before the two men make an excursion in a hot air balloon the mirrors a similar flight twelve years earlier that resulted in the disappearance of Roger Kryzanek. Blaylock presents an interesting world for the two men to explore, yet the reader must remained tantalized by its wonders as Hampson and St Ives lack the time to indulge in their curiosity. The story, as a whole, hints at much more than it actually delivers, making the reader wonder what stories Blaylock could have told if he had allowed his characters the opportunity to remain in the realm they discovered.

The five tales collected in The Further Adventures of Langdon St. Ives continue to allow Blaylock to pay homage to the adventure stories of the Victorian age. His writing captures the sense of adventure posited during that period with a more modern literary style, making them more accessible. At the same time, the reader is constantly reminded of the works of Doyle, Haggard, Stevenson, and Wells while reading about St. Ivesí latest exploits.


The Ebb Tide The Here-and-Thereians
The Affair of the Chalk Cliffs Earthbound Things
The Adventure of the Ring of Stones

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