BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Ned survives the ending of Zepplins West, and meets up with Mark Twain and Jules Verne to deal with pirates, martians, and time travel.
PROS: Ned’s narration is fantastic; Excellent mixing of some classics of Science Fiction; Some truely funny moments.
CONS: The ending feels a bit rushed.
BOTTOM LINE: An excellent follow up to Zepplins West with alot more humor. A fine homage to pulp novels of the past.
Ned the seal returns from the end of Zeppelins West, and he is quite the smart seal. I will admit that the concept of an adventuring seal with intelligence to be quite interesting. Add to this Samuel Clements and Jules Verne and time travel and that is a formula for a great read. This book is just that – a great read. Mr. Lansdale has a unique gift to mix characters (especially the Martians – its worth reading just for the them) from both fiction and non-fiction to weave a wonderful pulp fiction tale. This book is (in my opinion) a much better than Zeppelins West.
Much like the previous book, the action is fast and furious, and the collection of characters are well done. They are drawn from both the authors and the fiction he leverages in the book, and it is that interaction that I enjoy so much. Where else can you have Jules Verne be bitter when his wife runs off with Phileas Fogg? Or a time travelling Steam Man? I am going to go with nowhere darned it!!! Now it is not without at least a single fault and that is the fact the book seems to end a bit quickly, and I do understand part of that is an homage to War of the Worlds. But it was still a bit quick for me. This is only a minor ding in the overall experience. Is this a literary work of art? A resounding no, but it is a fun book and that was the goal.
This book ends with a statement of a third and concluding book in the Ned the seal adventure, and I look forward to seeing that one. I will be honest and say that I like Ned as a character and I find myself giggling when I hear my wife say things that “Ned wrote” in the book, and that has to be an indication that the book has left an impression on me. If you enjoy pulp fiction and can handle some questionable language (this book is not for kids – even if it has a seal in it), I think you will be rewarded with the experience.