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Steampunk'd Kindle Edition
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The anthology has fourteen stories that take place in various setting ranging from the Americas to Africa. In "Chance Corrigan and the Tick-Tock King of the Nile," Chance pits wits against his foe Gavrilis. Who will win? In "Foggy Goggles," Gavin is a reporter who visits a famous inventor who has made snow in Arizona - but how bad will it ruin the environment? In "The Battle of Cumberland Gap," French forces threaten to make a stronghold in America by going through the Cumberland Gap. Can LT Landry stop them?
"Portrait of a Lady in a Monocle" is about a female inventor who is not highly regarded by her peers because she's a woman, but will she have the last laugh? In "Foretold" Maks is a seer who hunts down meteorites, but when he stops "seeing" will the competition get ahead?
"Echoer" is about an inventor, Brandon, who is building an airship. Can he convince the women he's in love with to help? In "Of a Feather," Kit and her crew find a prehistoric bird in South America, but will the competition steal the bird for themselves? In "Scourge of the Spoils," Constance has a chance to capture the elusive Dr. Ocularious, but can she haul him in?
"Edison Kinetic Light and Steam power" is a story about Thomas Edison. Will he blow himself up to find electricity? In "The Nubian Queen," Sahdi finds herself in the midst of international conflict on an African continent that flourished when Cleopatra and Mark Antony defeated Rome. "Opals from Sydney" is about a widow who owns an opal that animates objects. Will the opal fall into the wrong hands?
In "the Whisperer," Avery's whispers are like hypnotic suggestions. Can he save Lilly from death? "Imperial Changeling" is about the royal houses of Europe. Elisabeth and Ludwina are fey. Can they stop the evil Col. Ames from carrying out his plan? In "The Transmogification Ray," will Francis actually change lead to gold and stop the spies from stealing his discovery?
This anthology is fiction and will give the reader a nice flavor of the Steampunk genre. My favorite stories include "The Nubian Queen" and "Imperial Changeling" for their creative takes on history. "Steampunk'd" will take you on a heart-pounding airship ride around the world.
I tend to make assumptions of where a story might lead to however Mary Louise Eklund's story, "Opals from Sydney," threw my expectations out the window of a steam powered zeppelin. This is a new genre for me and Mary Louise Eklund was able to write in this steam powered Victorian age a way I could easily imagine myself in an era without the technology currently surrounding me. It was a delightful and exciting read and I wish I could read more about Sydney's adventures with her amazing opals.
Michael Stackpole is always an enjoyable writer, and his is one of my favorite stories in Steampunk'd. Excellent, then, that "Chance Corrigan and the Tick-Tock King" starts off the book. It definitely doesn't suffer from any of the aforementioned issues--it's got action and adventure, an exotic setting along the Nile, and plenty of interesting characters. This tale showcases the best side of steampunk.
While Donald J. Bingle's "Foggy Goggles" (fascinating how steampunk seems to be obsessed with goggles) captures the textual flavor of steampunk, as the second story in this anthology it does display some of those characteristics I mentioned earlier. As much as I enjoy reading about the nifty devices and technologies of steampunk, I'm not three pages of description interested in how a device works, especially out of a 13 page story.
The book swings back and forth between these types of stories: William C. Dietz's "The Battle of Cumberland Gap" returns to the land of interesting characters, great pacing, and a fascinating story, as well as a look at quite an unusual possible alternate history. Bradley P. Beaulieu's "Foretold" is a highly original and unusual take on the steampunk genre, involving auguries, meteorites, pirates, and Russians. Dean Leggett's "The Echoer" succeeds in skillfully hiding its ideas wrapped up in plenty of character content, so you never feel like you're being faced with a technical manual.
On the other hand, as is often common in the younger years of a genre, there are some stereotypes and thinly-disguised archetypes that could use some sprucing up. In particular, thanks to the original Victorian setting of the genre, the roles and personalities of female characters often fall into somewhat narrow ranges. Some authors, such as Jody Lynn Nye, do surprisingly well while attempting to remain within these confines, but others allow themselves to be overly constrained by them. A few, such as Paul Genesse with his "The Nubian Queen", break beautifully free of this mold.
Overall, Steampunk'd isn't quite as bold a foray into new territory as I would have liked, but it's definitely an enjoyable read for fans of the genre.
NOTE: book received free from publisher for review