RogerBW's Blog

The Dracula Caper, Simon Hawke 09 August 2023

1988 SF, eighth of its series. People are being torn apart in Victorian London, or simply drained of blood. How will the Time Commandos solve the problem?

Well, it's very obviously a trap for them, which they mostly fall into. But others get involved too: Arthur Conan Doyle, H G Wells, Bram Stoker, and there's even a brief appearance by Oscar Wilde and Bosie.

There are many people, and many moving parts, to this plot, and much of the book is spent by people chasing each other around London and occasionally getting murdered. (Series villain Nikolai Drakov has engineered a vampire and a werewolf with infectious DNA elements, so some the victims get turned against their former friends.) One character is even introduced as "my favorite deus ex machina".

Hawke largely resists the urge to lecture, at least after the opening chapters, and it's pleasing in a book of this era to see the Chinese community painted as victims defending themselves rather than as sinister plotters.

We return to the idea used in The Nautilus Sanction that wiping the memories of creative people is unreliable; so Stoker gets his inspiration for Dracula, and Wells his Dr Moreau and time traveller and invisible man. I find this a little trite, not to mention raising the creative process to some kind of mystical event, but hey ho; it's done with some sympathy, at least.

While some of the moments are excellent, there's relatively little sense of progress overall.

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Previous in series: The Argonaut Affair | Series: Time Wars | Next in series: The Lilliput Legion

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