Subversive Activity by Dave Luckett, Vivid Publishing, 2009.
Reviewed by Edwina Harvey.
This book views an obscure part of the world from two
centuries ago through the eyes of Captain Horatio de la Terre, of the British
Royal Navy. The good Captain is a Naval Attaché on a diplomatic posting to
Maldona which might be all well and good if all the locals didn’t insist on
talking Foreign, and if there wasn’t a
confounded contraption floating
in the harbour, newly constructed for the Maldonian Navy. A steel-hulled
thing that had no right to float, was way too thin to be a battle ship, and
besides where were the gun turrets? And the smoke funnels for that matter?
Strangest boat he’s ever laid eyes on. No, no danger there.
So much for de la Terre’s spying on the locals to report back to the
British. All too easy! But why does he always seem to cross paths with Reddon,
another inhabitant of the Embassy? Though Reddon comes in handy, turning up in
a fetching diving outfit to save de la Terre when he’s kidnapped and taken
aboard the skinny, useless battleship that, as it turns out, has been designed
and built, not to mention manned – err, womaned, err personed by the remarkable
Makiniri sisters, daughters of the Maldonan President.
Like many of us de la Terre seems to stumble his way through
life, getting into all sorts of unexpected adventures usually as a result of
not having a clue about what’s going on.
It’s obvious that Luckett
was really enjoying himself writing this merry tale, and that joy in conveyed
to thereader through some very subtle humour that intrudes at the most
unexpected moments and leaves the reader chuckling. Subversive Activity is part humour, part
romance, part alternate history, but 100% fun.