Advanced Triggernometry by Stark Holborn
Rattleback Books, e-book, £2.49
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
‘Wanted dead or alive for Foul Numerical Acts’
The power of maths compels you to check out this extraordinary alt-western adventure! This is a stand-alone follow-up to Holborn’s well-received and brilliantly named ‘Triggernometry’ set in a world where mathematicians are literally outlaws – and gunslingers to boot.
Not to be confused with Triggernometry A Gallery of Gunfighters by Eugene Cunningham – although I’d be surprised if this novella wasn’t some sort of tribute in a way.
The plot sees the infamous Professor Malago Browne, who is hiding out as a teacher after a daring heist (which I’m going to hope is in the first book as I’ll be reading that very soon). Browne is tempted back into the saddle when three women make her proposition to help them overcome a corrupt sheriff and his mean posse who are killing off their town.
While in the real world, a bunch of mathematicians really might be much use – here, the fun bunch of deadly fighters are a magnificent seven of ‘mathmos’. Yes, Advanced Triggernometry – is another reworking of the classic ‘town in trouble – who call on seven warriors to stand with them against insane odds’ but this is the freshest and most fun spin on it for years!
Together with six unlikely allies – some names after classic mathematicians of yore like Archimedes (who speaks Ancient Greek – and it’s written that way too), Browne must come up with a plan to face off against the big bad Capitol backed Austin and his small army.
Holborn fully commits to the madness of having sharpened ruler-wielding, protractor packing intellectuals using Sherlock Holmes-style ‘show your working’ scientific strategies to overcome the 20-1 odds they face. There is a joy in seeing a mind plot out all the appropriate angles at which to shoot in order to cause maximum bloodshed. If you’ve seen the sci-fi film Equilibrium – imagine the ‘gun fu’ from there but with more equations and in a wild west setting. Fear not, though – this isn’t a Wild Wild West misstep; it’s a slightly mad concept brought to effective life in a compact e-book format.
It may not be a long read, but the action cracks along at such a breathless pace you’ll be lapping up the classic western tropes such a dodgy saloon bars (complete with brawl), the timid townsfolk and the hard-drinking, hard maths dealing heroes.
In these post-Trump times, it is easier to relate to a world where science is frowned upon and maths itself outlawed in the way witchcraft was back in Salem’s times. What Triggernometry does so well is wrap up a well-trodden tale in fancy new trappings that hooked me in immediately and made me an instant fan.