So, we have seen the freakangels policing each other and now we get to see one go into action against someone who has attacked him. Duffield once again displays a real ability for capturing the kineticism of violence and not a single image strikes you as gratuitous — it is all lean, to the point, necessary; there is no striking of poses an there are no witty one liners.
It is so nice to read a writer who is not thinking self-consciously about the fact that they are writing something set in a fictional world; no knowing asides. I made the comparison before about how Ellis is writing here in a similar mode to William Gibson in his later novels where the future is a hair’s breadth away from the now — this is even truer of Freakangels than it is of Doktor Sleepless.
The mudlarks, the enemy of the piece, are named for a group
who scavenges in river mud for items of value, especially in London during the Industrial Revolution. Poor peasants would scavenge in the River Thames during low tide, searching for anything of value. from wikipedia
which is interesting given we are in a steam driven world. They are dispatched fairly easily — at least the crew of this particular boat are. One suspects this is maybe because they are too cocky and sloppy though. The approaching crews have weight of numbers on their side.
And one still has the impression that as far as enemies go these are nothing to what the freakangels may have to face. The mudlarks are unlikely suspects in the toppling of the buildings that we see. The mudlarks are an understandable reaction to the dialling back of the world to a simpler and, for some it seems, a more desperate and violent way of life.
Our first catalyst, Alice is now ensconced in the freakangels world — the reader’s human representative set up in place to ask our questions and push forward from that direction. A ticking bomb? Maybe. And now we have a group to really challenge the freakangels gang. Things are starting to build up a head of steam in the pressure cooker.