Frank Reade: Adventures in the Age of Invention

Paul Guinan & Anina Bennett. Abrams, $24.95 (176p) ISBN 978-0-8109-9661-8
This handsomely crafted follow-up/companion piece to 2009’s critically acclaimed Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel once more finds its authors firing on all cylinders as they chronicle the Tom Swiftian exploits of a turn-of-the-20th-century minidynasty of scientific innovators and adventurers. Accurately resurrecting the look and style of the era’s pulp fiction accounts of real-life celebrities with a steampunk flair, the volume follows the super-scientific accomplishments of the Reades, Frank Senior and Junior (and to a lesser degree, those of “Wild” Kate Reade, Frank Jr.’s daughter), and how they blazed a path of invention and far-flung adventure across the globe. Rife with warfare, airships, quaint robotics, aquatic exploits both above and below the waves, dangerous encounters with wild animals and “exotic” indigenous peoples, and a head-on collision with actual history and its figures, there’s a lot to satisfy even the hardest to please of readers. As in Boilerplate, actual media from the era have been cleverly altered to include the Reades. The result is a stunning multimedia confection of the highest order that creates a detailed and delightful world. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/09/2012
Release date: 02/01/2012
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