Filed under: Baen Books, Monday Book Pick, Science Fiction
The Forever Engine by Frank Chadwick
Crunchy Steampunk goodness from one of the founders of the genre. Yes, it’s that Frank Chadwick, creater of the Space:1889 RPG. Those of you, like me, will find a good deal familiar with tale of adventure and Mad Science. Including Liftwood, stout hearted British Marines, and a five barrel Nordenfelt!
The Martian Emperor (A Chronological Man Adventure) by Andrew Mayne
Second in the series. The first was my pick back in early June. In this book, our hero and heroine pick up a number of months later. They travel to New York City by way of Smith’s private, and off the books, train, in order to face a new menance. The “Emperor of Mars” is blackmailing the Earth. They run into his old friend Theodore Roosevelt, and have a series of adventures. During the course of said adventures, we learn some more about Smith and his background. A ripping good yarn and well worth the $0.99.
The Buntline Special: A Weird West Tale by Mike Resnick
Executive Summary: Steampunk at the OK Corral, with Indian Medicine Men casting real Magick (for a dash of Shadowrun tossed in for flavor). Bonus points for a young Thomas Edison with a specially harded bronze mechanical arm. Other than that, it’s a pretty historically accurate recounting of the events leading up to, and the events after, the Gunfight at the OK Corral. It reminded me a lot of the movie Tombstone, to the point where I heard Val Kilmer’s Doc Holiday in my head while reading the book. This could be because both Resnick and the folks who did Tombstone did a lot of research on the topic. Even with the Steampunk Plus elements, it was a fun read.
The Monster in the Mist (A Chronological Man Adventure) by Andrew Mayne
Executive Summary: Steampunk version of Doctor Who, with a bit of other pulp references tossed in. I give it a thumbs up for being a fun read and definately worth the $0.99 for the ebook download. It’s the first in a series, with the second book also out in the wild. The hero is clearly based on the 11th Doctor, who only travels forward in time. He spends long periods in storage beneath a building he owns in Boston, coming out only when the clockwork computer that monitors events decides that there is something worth cracking him out of cold storage. This time, it is a rash of disapperances in the fog that brings him out in 1890. He even has a companion. A young woman who maintains the office and keeps up on current events. The hero Smith, just Smith, also has a warehouse of gadgets that would make Doc Savage proud, but he won’t show up for a few more decades.
The Steampunk Detective by Darrel Pitt
A light hearted hat tip to Sherlock Holmes, with a thinly disgusied WWI vet operating in a Steampunk 1920s. The author includes characters and references from multiple sources of the Holmes era, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The detective’s young ward, an orphaned high wire artist, is a references to Bob Kane’s best known character’s first sidekick. There have been a bunch of books lately that float on sea of historical and literary references, ranging from the extremely well done (the Anno Dracula) series, to bizarre shock lit (The Adventures of Ned the Seal). The Steampunk Detective falls somewhere in the middle of that. This book can be read by young teens (or younger), where the other two would not be a good choice for young audience.
Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
The first in a new Steampunk action/adventure/romance series. Not a bad first outing for the writing team of Ballantine and Morris. Good solid formula adventure, the kind Lester Dent made a very nice living writing during the Golden Age of Pulp. That is a favorable comparison by the way. This novel, which takes place in the 1890′s, complete with airships, Analytic Engines, steam powered bar bots serving beer and a mystery filled “Ministry” protecting the British Empire. This series follows two agents of that Ministry, a studious “Archivist” aptly named “Books” and the uber-field agent, Ms. “Braun”, who wears a bullet proof corset (Ministry issue of course), is a crack shot with her two customer revolvers and has a fondness for explosives.
Stop groaning! The plot flows well and has enough twists and fight scenes to keep you engaged. In all a good, fun read. I’ll be looking forward to the next installment in this Steampunk series.