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The Constantine Affliction

A Pimm and Skye Adventure, Book 1
Written by: T. Aaron Payton
Narrated by: John Lee
Length: 10 hrs and 10 mins

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Publisher's Summary

It is 1864, and London is a city in transition. The Constantine Affliction - a strange malady that kills some of its victims and physically transforms others into the opposite sex - has spread scandal and upheaval throughout society. Scientific marvels and disasters, such as clockwork courtesans, the alchemical fires of Whitechapel, electric carriages, and acidic monsters lurking in the Thames, have forever altered the face of the city.

Pembroke "Pimm" Hanover is an aristocrat with an interest in criminology, who uses his keen powers of observation to assist the police or private individuals - at least when he’s sober enough to do so. Ellie Skyler, who hides her gender behind the byline "E. Skye", is an intrepid journalist driven by both passion and necessity to uncover the truth, no matter where it hides.

When Pimm and Skye stumble onto a dark plot that links the city's most notorious criminal overlord with the Queen's new consort, famed scientist Sir Bertram Oswald, they soon find the forces of both high and low society arrayed against them. Can they save the city from the arcane machinations of one of history's most appalling monsters - and uncover the shocking origin of... The Constantie Affliction?

©2012 T. Aaron Payton (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tango
  • 2014-08-09

A Mash-Up that Gels into a Rollicking Adventure

Steampunk that works on every level with alternate technology woven seamlessly into the plot (not just tossed in for effect) with a mash up of genres (melodrama, alternate history, paranormal, horror, romance) and flavored with a bit of everything (romantic comedies of the 40's, Dr. Frankenstein, Regency tales, etc.). The plot sizzles and steams until all these bits and pieces gel into a wonderfully fun and cohesive story that will have a permanent home in My Library. It would be a spoiler to detail anymore of the plot than provided in the Publisher's Summary, but the premise of a disease that causes gender change in a person during a era when genteel people would never mention the word gender much less sex and in a time when men held most of the property and power and women were not guaranteed basic human liberties obviously provides a setup for some interesting conflict. T. Aaron Payton (pseudonym for Tim Pratt) has used this terrific premise to lay out a very engaging story that is fun and funny while still providing some food for thought. I have liked some of Tim Pratt's previous books, but I'm glad I didn't realize Payton and Pratt are the same person before I read the book because The Constantine Affliction is a major cut above and I'm really glad this book is a "Book 1" because I want much more of this. The characters are well developed (I could so picture Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell or Katherine Hepburn playing the leads in this), the plot is crazy but coherent, the biological bent of the alternate technology is a nice new twist on steampunk, and John Lee's narration is truly great. Even if you have given up on steampunk (because, hey, there is a lot of it that isn't very good), I'd urge you to try this one - first rate entertainment!

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Troy
  • 2014-07-21

Screwball Fun

I went into this expecting a steampunk mystery built upon a screwball, gender-bending premise. From there, the only assumption I made was that it would either be fun or absurd. I got both, and I got a few surprises along the way, which I won't spoil because that's part of the fun.

The characters are a blast. Oddly, as much as I like the two lead characters, it's the supporting cast that really makes this story tick. Kudos for the villain on this one. I love a good over-the-top "I'm the hero of this story" monologue in the classic style, and this one doesn't disappoint. As bizarre as the premise is, the story does offer some rather spectacular modern social commentary through the lens of Victorian society and its expectations. Explained through the villain's point of view... wow.

I'm looking forward to book 2 now. I'm curious to see what the author offers as an encore.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Elizabeth Brackman
  • 2014-07-15

This Tale Ate Up the Miles

What made the experience of listening to The Constantine Affliction the most enjoyable?

The unusual and unique ideas in Payton's plot, and Lee's narration. While the plot contained several familiar steampunk tropes, the premise was refreshing. The characters were interesting and vivid- and Lee's narration added to this with his ability to manifest their voices consistently.

What other book might you compare The Constantine Affliction to and why?

If you enjoyed Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris' Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences tales, you'll likely enjoy The Constantine Affliction.However, Payton's plot doesn't get bogged down in romance (I sometimes lost patience with the romance elements in MPO stories). I prefer a plot that cracks along at a good pace and doesn't lose track with emotional conflict between principal characters. The romance that is there is lighthearted and enjoyable. It's also macabre and sometimes a touch gruesome in a similar way to MPO, but those elements of the story were campy enough that I was favorably reminded of some of my favorite classic black and white horror movies.

What does John Lee bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Lee is a talented narrator, maintaining his characters' different inflections and syntax in voices distinct enough from his narrator's voice so I had no trouble determining which character was speaking. He also did a superb job with the female character voices without lapsing into annoying falsetto. I think I would have enjoying reading this book as well, but Lee's narration created such an immersive atmosphere that my imagination was captivated utterly. Although my eyes were on the road and my hands were on the wheel, my mind was in neo-Victorian London.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, and I did, just about. I purchased the audio book prior to making a very long drive, and the miles just drifted away hour after hour, and I found myself irritated at having to stop for gas and bio breaks not because I was losing drive time but because I had to pause the story.

Any additional comments?

This story has several steampunk, gothic and even sci fi elements that could have spun out of the author's control and turned into a muddled mess, but Payton kept it all tightly stitched together and never let the plot spiral away. Several unique surprises lifted this work out of mere genre fiction into a cleverly crafted and thoroughly engaging tale.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Johnny
  • 2014-09-05

More Fun than a Barrel of Mecha-Monkeys

Owing much to old-time radio plays, The Constantine Affliction remains fresh even while playing homage to Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein, and H.P. Lovecraft. Yes, some of the characters are superficial and one dimensional, but only when it's called for and they are used to great effect.

The narrator brilliantly depicts a wide range of characters. At first I was a little worried about his ability to do female voices, but it seems all part of the plot.

The setup for the story is two-fold. The actual Constantine-Affliction, an STD that reverses the gender of it's victims, plays more of a background role, and the story could have been made to work without it(although it would be totally bland). The main plot centers around a series of murders. The victims all being young women, all of whom are employed as prostitutes.

It does get a little silly towards the end, and Payton lets the plot get away from him at one specific point, but then he manages to wrangle everything back together. You won't learn anything from this book, and you won't find yourself thinking about it once it's over, but it's a fun relaxing romp, for anyone who's not afraid of a little gender-bending.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • R Ferguson
  • 2014-05-21

An fun romp of a story with a superb narrator

What did you love best about The Constantine Affliction?

The narrator did an excellent job, and the author provided him some excellent tools to display his craft.

If you’ve listened to books by T. Aaron Payton before, how does this one compare?

This is my first T. Aaron Payton (AKA Tim Pratt) book

What does John Lee bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He brings a great series of voices, and does an excellent droll rendering of some quite silly scenes

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Victorian England is struck by a plague that converts men to women, and women to men... and this is the least of their problems

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • sbav
  • 2019-06-29

Loved it

The story was right amounts funny and intriguing.

I love that the characters are addressed per their changed/ preferred sex. Even when discussing the change, they use male pronouns for when the character is/was male and female pronouns when the character is/was female.

Love the characters specially Winnie.Freddie and Pimm's
chemistry is insanely good. Their banter is top tier.

  • Overall
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  • Jamie Nettles
  • 2017-12-10

Great Premise and Story

Loved the premise and the story. The kind of steampunk I like. Can't wait for the next installment.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • BikeVON
  • 2017-11-14

New steampunk heros!

The Constantine Affliction takes the Victorian detective story and infuses it with steampunk, mad science, and offbeat social commentary. It is funny, gruesome, a little bawdy, thoughtful, and always wildly entertaining.

Oswald was the antagonist in The Constantine Affliction. He was a maniacal mad man who work to redesign England in his interest. One ideal was to illustrate swapping the sex of a person does not change their same mind and faculties. The method in which society creates norms based on sex is arbitrary and ridiculous

His method of creating a better human was based upon the study of eugenics. With the introduction of genetics, eugenics relied on an ideology of genetic determinism in which human character was due to genes, unaffected by education or living conditions. He proposed, to wipe out crime, criminals would be sterilized so they could not have children.

Primm, Freddy and Ellie are the protagonist would work to stop the evils plans of Oswald. Pimm is an aristocrat with an interest in criminology, who uses the Sherlocking methods of observation to assist the police or private individuals. Ellie, is a female journalist who is driven by passion, her curiosity and necessity to uncover the truth, no matter where it hides.
Freddy is Primm’s scandalous, unconventional wife, who disregard the norms of society. Her marriage to Primm is based upon their shared secret, which is beneficial to both of their life styles.

The story is rich with clever biological speculations, especially concerning matters of gender and humanity. It is a unique and wonderfully sinister steampunk mystery that grabbed my attention. I was riveted until the end and completed it in one night.


I am anxiously awaiting to read book 2 with more adventures of this band of unconventional heroes.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Marc
  • 2017-11-01

Sub characters more interesting

The story reminded me of a mashing of a bunch of ideas into one; steam punk, Frankenstein, h.p. lovecraft... etc. The main characters are so full of themselves it almost seems as if being characters in a story was an inconvenience. The sub characters on the other hand were well formed and the dialog was interesting. over all, not today exciting of a story because nothing bad would ever happen to the main characters

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2017-07-09

Good Story!<br />

i only wish there was more set in this, or at least i have not found it. it is a unique story line which is hard to come by nowadays. I highly suggest it. it's a little bit of a harsh start, but it quickly all comes together.