Category: Book Reviews

The City of Blind Delight

“The City of Blind Delight” is a short story in Other Worlds Than These, an anthology that explores the theme of other worlds and the road not taken. Valente’s story is a wonderful example of the genre. It is one of those stories where there are touches of steampunk, of fantasy, and of sci-fi. Some readers may not feel that it is “strictly” steampunk because it lacks certain elements, such as a setting inspired by Victorian England or the American West. However, I would argue that Valente creates a blended genre that simply has a little more “punk” than “steam.” And really, aren’t both of those words important to the genre?

The Mechanicals by Nix Whittaker

The Mechanicals is Nix Whittaker’s second book in the Wyvern Series. The first, Blazing Blunderbuss, was published early in 2016. It is not necessary to read the first book in the series to enjoy the novel, but knowledge about the characters and the story world can add a depth to the story, particularly at the start of the novel.

Pale Highway by Nicholas Conley

Pale Highway, by Nicholas Conley, is a science fiction novel with touches of mystery, horror, and fantasy. The main character, Gabriel Schist, is a Nobel Prize winning scientist who in his youth invented the cure for AIDS. Now in his seventies, he has Alzheimer’s disease and is living in a nursing home. When one of his nursing home friends catches a virus that leaves the patient in a horrific living-death state, Gabriel realizes that he is the only one who can cure it: But he is in a race against the quickly spreading virus and his own deteriorating mind. Although the main plot focuses on a worldwide plague that threatens humanity, this is not a disaster-centered narrative. This is a story of human survival, of morality, of loyalty, of family, of sacrifice–of doing anything necessary to help those you love.

Neil Gaiman’s Tribute to Lovecraft & Sherlock Holmes

In the preface to the collection, Gaiman (2006) explains that he found this to be a unique challenge because the two styles are very much polar opposites. The character of Sherlock Holmes is logical, scientific, and rational. The focus is on solving mysteries and presenting celebrated solutions. Lovecraft’s works proceed on a different basis. Many of his creations were deeply illogical and maintaining the mysteries helped keep humanity sane. “If I was going to tell a story that combined both elements,” Gaiman (2006, pp. 4-5) writes, “There had to be an interesting way to do it that played fair with both Lovecraft and with the creations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”

Book Review: The Victorian Steam Locomotive: It’s Design & Development 1804-1879

In the forward to G. D. Dempsey and D. K. Clarke’s (2015) The Victorian Steam Locomotive: It’s Design & Development 1804-1879, Dr. Pete Waterman begins by stating that even people who are enthusiastic about the age of steam power can sometimes be blasé about its history. It is hard in this day and age of technological wonders to comprehend the magnitude of the innovative process behind the development of the steam engine. In just over 90 years we moved from the simple idea of boiling water, to making steam to generate power, to the steam engine we know to this day. As Waterman explains, the engine design has not significantly changed since the Victorian era; it has been tweaked here and there, but essentially remains the same. For those of us who are steam train enthusiasts, we might say that it is hard to improve on perfection!

Review: The Best of Spanish Steampunk

I received this anthology as a gift and opened it with a great deal of anticipation. Short, speculative fiction has been my favorite genre for many years and reading an entire anthology of steampunk stories would be a treat on a cold winter day. But as I read, I found myself to be puzzled: there were ghost stories, gaslight romances, alternate histories, and references to Victorian authors and their creations, but very few elements that reflect the steampunk aesthetic.

Review: Minutes Before Sunset

  Minutes Before Sunset, by Shannon A. Thompson, is book one of The Timely Death Trilogy which chronicles the lives of three interconnected groups in Hayworth, Kansas: the Light, the Dark, and the Human. The Dark and the Light have two forms—human and “mystical other”—and live in human […]