A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!
By Harry Harrison
Why this book?
A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! is an outlier, if you like. I call it ‘proto-Steampunk’ as it was published before the term was coined in the early 1980s. Regardless, it could be a template for Steampunk when it arrived. In some ways, it’s an alternate history, and it has steam-powered contraptions, big engineering projects, a Victorian tone that still incorporates our modern gaze, cameo appearances by real historical figures, and a rip-roaring narrative. Its rollicking diction is uplifting, and it mirrors the gorgeous stiff upper lip tone of much Victorian fiction to heart-warming effect. It plays with the manners, morals, and decorum of the times to create a world that isn’t the nineteenth century as it was, but as it should have been. The edition I have, purchased many years ago, has a foreword by the notoriously curmudgeonly Auberon Waugh where he admits that he ‘cried like a baby at the wedding between the beautiful, good Iris and brave Captain Washington’ which is a thoroughly splendid outcome for all.
A bonus for me in this book is the appearance of the descendant of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of my personal historical heroes, a visionary of the sort we sorely need these days.
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