... high adventure and dazzling inventiveness …
Philip’s second book in this Railhead series continues to follow Zen Starling and Nova, the almost human Motorvik. His nuanced cast include Chandni Hansa, a “Popsicle Girl” because she was deep frozen in prison; the reluctant empress, Threnody; and the broken hearted Kobi Chen-Tulsi. His individual style of storytelling builds sympathy and curiosity as they perform unexpected heroic acts amidst their bewilderment and wonder travelling across the New Worlds. They encounter terrifying aliens such as the deliciously feline Kraitt whilst all the time riding trains and running through Gates towards the mysterious Black Light Zone.
There’s a continuation of the gentle love story between Zen and Nova and the constant allure of the Rail Network singing out across the galaxies but, perhaps what will stay with me the most, is the dazzlingly inventiveness of his world. He conjures visions of the mysterious Guardians constructed out of virtual code; Uncle Bugs with his smiley face; and, as always, the sentient, singing trains of the Network Empire.
Cover design moment: A sequel to the first Rail Head design – again with the fore edge decoration – put together by designer Jo Cameron and her colleagues at OUP, using work by the brilliant Ian McQue. You can see more of his work here.
Black Light Express was published on 6 October 2016 by Oxford University Press. I bought my copy from Emily’s Bookshop. YAY.