Book Reviews

Spire City Episodes 5 & 6: Alpha & Omega Steampunk Stories

Daniel Ausema’s Spire City is home to mighty machines of steam power and clockwork, and giant beetles pull picturesque carriages over cobbled streets, but there is a darker secret behind these wonders. A deadly infection, created by a mad scientist, is spreading through the city, targeting the poor and powerless, turning them slowly into animals. A group of those infected by the serum join together to survive, to trick the wealthy out of their money, and to fight back.

Ausema’s elegant writing style, cleverly executed plotline, and thought-provoking ideas about the issues that face humanity when living in a totalitarian society—greed, chance, courage, perseverance, the sanctity of friends and family, and a desire to survive—make it quite an impressive series.

5Spire City Episode Five: High Society

In the hope of learning more about who is pursuing the people infected by Orgood’s serum, Chels and Williver attend a high society ball in Orgood’s honor. The ball is a whirl of too many people, of elaborate food carved into sculptures and dance fighting and whispers and intrigues on all sides. How is Chels supposed to maintain her false identity long enough to learn anything that will help them.

SPOILERS AHEAD

I enjoyed this chapter. It presents a different aspect of the Spire City society—one where the members are affluent and attend parties, dance, and speak in clever well-mannered innuendo. I envisioned a mixture of a Downton Abbey gathering with a bit of a Game of Thrones style underlying threat to everything being said. Orgood being acknowledged almost as a ruler disturbs Chels intensely. When she makes the acquaintance of one of Orgood’s former wives, Lady Elsenir, the intrigue develops even further. I look forward to seeing how this plays out in future episodes.

sixSpire City Episode Six: Completing the Map

Spire City is full of abandoned alleys, sewer tunnels, disused attics, and forgotten cellars. For years Batan has been mapping these routes, which form a sort of alternate city, unknown to both the uninfected citizens and the authorities. He can feel his body failing, though, as his infection runs its course. Can he give the others his knowledge before he completes?

SPOILERS AHEAD

I enjoyed this chapter. It is darker, more philosophical, than some of the others. Bantan has reached the end of his change and desperately wants to pass on his knowledge of the underground tunnels to group before the infection destroys the last of his humanity. His last wish is to be carried into the tunnels, far from the rat catchers, and to be left alone to complete the transition in private. His final words to the group are not about his fate, but their own lives, and inspire them to continue their fight against Orgood and his minions.

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