Iteration the Fifth.

My hero! He's returned!

I love Oliphant. Can't help it. Won't bother apologizing. From his first speaking appearance when interviewing Mallory, when he gazes off into the distance and ruminates on some mystic vision, he makes gallant Neddie look positively one-dimensional. Oliphant seems just as schizophrenic as Ada, then swings back with some admirably self-assured promises of mystery and intrigue. My kind of man.

Reading this iteration brought me to the conclusion that the story in the middle three iterations is entirely crap, and could be mostly removed. Oliphant is our hero and Sybil, via likeable Mick, his catalyst. The stories in the first and fifth, wrapped up cleverly in the Modus, are the true grit of the story. I think what most readers complain of is falling too into the pulpy Mallory bits and ignoring the political affairs entirely.

What's most interesting about said political affairs is that they're comprised mainly of North American troubles, albeit affected by our characters in London and Paris. Europe is nothing more than a pretty tinted filter for those intricate plot developments: Britain's petty uprising during the Stink came to nothing, while the movements of American Marxists and sub-factions thereof are going to have far more interesting repercussions. The depiction of Marxism in the book is going to be worth of its own post soon, I'm afraid, so I'll leave this train of thought here.

I found all sorts of things in this chapter endearing. I loved the sneaky bits with Wakefield and his assorted spies and messengers; I loved Mister Hermann Kriege and the idea of Oliphant as an 'Uncle Larry.' I like the idea of "factions within the Party... Anarchists disguising themselves as communists... covert cells not under Manhattan's control...." I'm baffled by the pantomime, alarmed by the rubber bathtub, and rather despondent about the whereabouts of Betteredge. All in all, an excellent time was had.

(Oh yeah, and there was that evil-men-apprehended-world-turned-to-rights-everybody-rejoice stuff too. That was good, too.)