A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!
by Harry Harrison
(Victor Gollancz SF Collectors' Editions, £9.99, 192 pages, paperback; first published 1972, this edition 28 September 2000; ISBN 0-575-07134-6.)
As a young shaver Your Reviewer was a True Admirer of Mr H. Harrison's many Literary works (notwithstanding those astonishing Adventures of the scurrilous Mr James di Griz, whose Misdeeds Nanny most strongly disapproved of as being Poor Moral Stock to present to a Growing and Impressionable young Gentleman).
Pray, picture, if you will, Your Reviewers' delight, then, upon discovering that Mr Victor Gollancz, Esq. has included Mr Harrison's most Triumphant and Efficacious Work in his renewed Collection of Scientific Romances! Ecstasies of Bliss unimagined were soon to be Mine, I reflected, and my Fancies remained most assuredly Undisappointed.
A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! depicts the very Heights of the mighty Victorian Empire as it might once have turned out had not the insidious depredations of Foreign Powers, Dissolute Women and the Loss of Our American Colonies not conspired to sap the Vitality of Britannia throughout the course of the previous most Ignoble century.
Set in the year of 1973, Mr Harrison's Stupendous Imaginatory Cognition has conjured, for our Simple Pleasure, a world of Mighty Engineering Projects all overseen by the Fair and Gracious Queen Elizabeth II, Mighty Monarch of the British Empire that continues to span the waves as surely God Intended.
A Loyal American Subject, Captain Augustine Washington has, in tandem with True-born Englishman Sir Isambard Brassey-Brunel, not only Planned but in True Fact begun the Execution of a Splendid Transatlantic Tunnel for the Glory and Support of The British Empire. Our esteemed Narrator follows the course of Mr Washington's superlative Efforts to see the Tunnel completed: his Sacrifice and Frustrations in Love, Iron-Hard Determination to complete his Mighty Work and the Rewards of Faith that must always accrue to the Pure of Soul and Body.
Mr Harrison has employed that most purposeful of Narrative Modes, the High Victorian, as most fitting to such an Improving Tale, and Your Humble Reviewer would fain not Argue with such an Inspired Choice of Diction.
The Reader who may perhaps fancy Himself a Connoisseur of such Scientific Romances will not be disappointed by Cameos from such familiar characters as Detecting Officer Mr Richard Tracey or Rocket Captain Clarke, cameos which I am informed are quite the fashion in such examples of the Literature of the Alternate Plane.
Readers of a Romantic and Characterful disposition may perhaps Discover little to Tempt their Purple Palettes, however the More Technically Minded Gentlemen of the Reading Public will, I venture to say, find much that is Enjoyable and Most Humorous in A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!
Hurrah! for the most redoubtable Mr Harrison - may his imagination Long Continue in such a Queer Vein as this.
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© Stuart Carter 11 November 2000