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Simul by Andrew Caldecott

19/02/2024
Simul by Andrew Caldecott

Simul is the second and final volume of Andrew Caldecott’s second series which began with Momenticon. Suffice to say that if you have not read Momenticon, this second volume, even with its glossary of people and places at the back, is no place to start. To the point where even the description of the plot in this review is possibly not going to make too much sense. This is because when you buy into Caldecott’s altered reality, whether in this series or his previous Rotherweird series, you have to be all in and prepared to go where he takes you.

When Momenticon ended, the main heroes were separated after a big battle. Fogg and Niobe were left on Deception Island and Morag and Benedict were headed to a preprogrammed location in a balloon-powered airship, pursued by the evil Lord Vane and his mother. At the same time, various of the other characters in other parts of the post-apocalyptic world are lining up either on one side (Vane and the equally evil Lord Sine) or the other (Fogg, Morag and their allies). All of the action, when it is not about the bad guys chasing the good guys, centres around the discovery of a tree that has the ability to clear the ‘murk’ that accompanied the apocalypse which killed most of the wildlife and drove the surviving humans into domes. With this tree, though comes a new danger that has the capacity to wipe out all of the survivors. Meanwhile various machinations for domination, discovery and revenge swirl around each other.

Caldecott is nothing if not idiosyncratic. In Simul he builds on his steampunk crossed with fantasy post-apocalyptic world. From balloon-driven vehicles, to hidden academic outposts, to villages that replicate famous paintings, to robotic characters out of Alice in Wonderland, to quests that replicate those from Greek mythology. And all of this infused with word games and puzzles, the ultimate in this volume being Lord Vane’s diabolical Tower of No Return which looks like an Escher drawing inside and presents a series of puzzles that Morag and Benedict have to solve or die trying.

In the end, much like in the Rotherweird series, Caldecott sticks to a fairly basic good versus evil plot. But readers will not be coming for the plot. They will come for the bonkers flights of fancy, the games and puzzles, the literary and artistic references, and the Terry Gilliam-esque characters, locations and set pieces. In those respects, Caldecott once again delivers in spades.

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Simul by Andrew Caldecott

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7.5/10

Wrap Up

Simul by Andrew Caldecott

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