Three-part ``steampunk''--Victorian fantasy--outing for the author of the noteworthy Land of Dreams and The Paper Grail. In part one, scientist Langdon St. Ives, despondent after the recent murder of his wife Alice by the diabolical hunchback Dr. Ignacio Narbondo, struggles to prevent said Narbondo from causing Earth to collide with a passing comet; simultaneously he must sabotage Lord Kelvin's superpowerful electromagnetic machine that, if used to repel the comet, would produce still another disaster. Part two sees St. Ives attempting to recover Kelvin's machine from beneath the English Channel while battling a cast of bad guys intent on revivifying the supposedly dead Narbondo. In part three, St. Ives seizes Kelvin's machine, which turns out to be a time machine, and sets off to make significant alterations to history- -not least, the prevention of Alice's murder. A neat enough idea, but the tone is wrong from the start, as broad comedy-adventure (part one) veers into farcical parody (part two) before subsiding into straightforward melodrama (part three). Neither is the scenario--as if Victorian America had invaded 1930's England--particularly convincing. All in all: a thumping disappointment.