A War Across The Glass
A review of Patrick Bollivar’s “Operation: Looking Glass” in Alice Unbound: Beyond Wonderland Edited by Colleen Anderson (Exile 2018)
By Derek Newman-Stille
It turns out Wonderland isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Patrick Bollivar’s “Operation: Looking Glass” explores a group of people who are in a battle with Wonderland to get their sister back. The Wonderland that Bollivar envisions is one that is at war with the human world and at war with itself. It is suffused with an aether, an air that transforms people and animals who cross through the looking glass into this strange world.
Bollivar imagines the potential for Wonderland to have a contagious effect but unites this contagious transformation with a specific location – Wonderland. The contagious effect varies, but it changes people’s personalities and ideologies and it changes animals into hybridized figures with human and animal characteristics. This Wonderland has been at war with itself, conflicted both in terms of its inherent contradictions but also literally engaged in battle.
Bollivar creates a steampunkesque diving story, but this particular group of adventurers are diving into another world… though one that they need as much protection from as they would at the bottom of the ocean.
Like many of the authors in Alice Unbound, Bollivar unites aspects of Lewis Carroll’s life with the world that he created when he wrote Wonderland, and this particular tale involves the Liddell children, who served as inspirations for Carroll’s writing. The characters in Bollivar’s tale call Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland a propagandist text, ignoring the real horrors of Wonderland.
This is a highly exciting steampunk story that provides a contrast between the rational world and the world of dangerous whimsy that lay on the other side of a simple sheet of glass.
To find out more about Alice Unbound, visit Exile’s website at http://www.exileeditions.com/shop/alice-unbound-beyond-wonderland/