Tag Archives: Steampunk

Review of “A Tale of Two Airships”

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“A Tale of Two Airships” eBook was published in 2016 and was written by Katherine McIntyre (https://katherine-mcintyre.com). Ms. McIntyre has published a dozen novels. This is the second in her “Take to the Skies” series.

I purchased this novel after receiving the first in the series as an ARC for review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence, Mature Language and Mature Situations. The story is set in the near future on Earth, but that Earth is a world powered by steam. The primary character is Captain Beatrice Weston of the airship Desire.

More than two years have passed since the escapades described in the first bool “An Airship Named Desire”. The Desire and her crew are just making ends meet. Longtime crew member Isabella is contacted by her estranged gypsy clan, recruiting the Desire for a job. But while Weston and a small group of her crew meet with the gypsies, the Desire is taken along with the rest of the crew.

Weston must find a way to get her ship back and rescue the crew. Much more happened but more detail would give up spoilers.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 8 hours I spent reading this 277 page Steampunk Fantasy. There is near non-stop action as Weston and her band find themselves in one tight situation after another. There is not a happy ending for all as the Desire looses some of its crew. I thought that this was a fun read. There has still been no explanation as to what happed. Yet this is an Earth evolved from ours as Weston mentions radar once, the automatic rifles used are AK 551’s which evolved from the AK-47 and aether, the substance that powers the steam engines, only begun to be harvested a few years earlier. The cover art certainly gives the feel for the story. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Review of “An Airship Named Desire”

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Book Review – “An Airship Named Desire” eBook was published in 2015 and was written by Katherine McIntyre (https://katherine-mcintyre.com). Ms. McIntyre has published a dozen novels, this being the first in her “Take to the Skies” steampunk series.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story is set in the near future of an Alternate History Earth. Machines are driven by steam and airships fly the skies, not airplanes. The primary character is young Beatrice, the First Mate of the Airship Desire.

The Desire and her crew mostly deal in smuggling and other similar jobs. Bea and fellow crew mate, Jensen, sneak aboard a British merchant vessel to steal a specific piece of cargo. That soon has the British chasing after the Desire. The British want to get back their stolen merchandise, a small locked box. Before long, a traitor among the Desire’s crew makes off with the box. Bea and the crew of the Desire give chase, but find both the British and the Morlock pirates in their way.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 7.5 hours I spent reading this 294 page Steampunk Alternate History. The story is set in our world, but it has changed in several ways. California has slid into the Pacific, the British are in control of most of Europe, and most importantly steam power rules. The date is a little in our future, around 2040. There is a mix of technologies – super computers are mentioned and the balloon holding up the Desire is protected by a Plasma Shield. On the other hand, the Desire crew and their enemies carry various kids of swords and hand guns.

The story is never dull, with Bea and her crew getting into one perilous scrape after another. The cover art is a good idea of what the story will bring. The only thing I can say is missing is a little better explanation of why the story is set in a steam powered world. I give this novel a 4.7 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Review of “Tour: Wayfarer Returns”

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Book Review – “Toru: Wayfarer Returns” eBook was published in 2016 and was written by Stephanie R. Sorensen. This is Ms. Sorensen’s first publication.

I received a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story is set in 1852 Japan. The primary character is the young man Toru.

At first the story is that Toru was shipwrecked and saved by an American ship. Taken to America, he spends two years learning much about the technology, society and military. He returns to Japan with a wealth of information and books.

You soon find that his ‘shipwreck’ was planned as was his stay in America to learn about the country. Japan is facing a forced opening of its ports from America led by Admiral Perry. Toru is able to convince some of his countrymen that Japan is at risk from America. They begin to build airships, rifles, telegraphs, etc. – all technology that Toru has brought back from America – to defend Japan.

The Shogun is not in favor of this and Toru and his friends face forceful opposition. After several months of preparation, Admiral Perry and his fleet arrive. A confrontation ensues to keep Japan independent.

I enjoyed the 7.5 hours I spent with this 274 page Alternate History novel. Because of the main character’s experiences in America and the information he returns with, Japan is able to build a SteamPunk inspired force to meet Perry. I liked the cover art as it merges the feudal Japan with the SteamPunk inventions of the story. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Book Review of “The Dragons of Dorcastle”

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“The Dragons of Dorcastle” eBook was published in 2015 and was written by Jack Campbell (http://www.jack-campbell.com). Mr. Campbell has written nearly 20 Science Fiction novels. This is the first of his “Pillars of Reality” series.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘G’. This Young Adult Fantasy/Steampunk novel is set in another world. The two main characters are 17 year old Mage Alain and 18 year old Master Mechanic Mari.

They come from different guilds with very different and opposing outlooks. Each guild considers the other a fake and sham. Both consider the other human inhabitants, the ‘commons’ of their world far beneath them. The Mages use spells and magic to manipulate the world, while the Mechanics employ simple machines. The respective guilds hold the knowledge they posses closely so that none but their members are privy to the skills. Both guilds contract out the services of their members to which ever common is willing to pay.

Mari and Alain are thrust together after the caravan they are riding in is ambushed. Alain had been hired to protect the caravan, but the bandits attacked in overwhelming force. Alain and Mari escape, then rely on one another’s skills to survive. They soon establish a friendship. Once they make their way to town, their respective guilds criticize them for speaking with the other. Both have a history of bucking the system, so this incident leaves Mari and Alain suspected by the elders of their guilds.

Both though find that there is something beneath the surface, something that may tear the guilds as well as the rest of the civilized world apart. Though they are instructed to stay away from one another, they seek each other’s help. Together they investigate and find that there is another force at work beyond their guilds. A force that is willing to kill a Mage or a Mechanic if they get in the way. Before long Mari and Alain find that their friendship has grown to more romantic feelings, something that they cannot let any in the guilds discover.

I have liked Jack Campbell for some time, having read most of his “Lost Fleet” series. I thought that this was a good start on a new series. I liked both of the characters that he created and am looking forward to the next novel in the series. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Curtsies & Conspirators”

“Curtsies & Conspirators” was published in 2013 and was written by Gail Carriger (http://www.gailcarriger.com). Ms. Carrier has published nine books, this being the second of “The Finishing School” series.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this Young Adult Steampunk Fantasy novel as ‘G’. The novel is written in the first person and is set in 1851 era England. Though this England is rich with steam powered devices and primitive robots. Rather benign vampires are a significant part of society, and werewolves have made up the backbone of England’s military for some years. The primary character is 14 year old Saphronia Temminnick. She is the youngest child of her family and has a reputation for trouble.

She is sent off to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality by her parents in the hopes that her rough edges will be removed and she can find a proper husband. Her parents have no idea of Saphronia’s escapades covered in “Etiquette & Espionage” while she was trying to recover a secret device.

Now having completed 6 months at the Academy, Saphronia’s progress is reviewed. To her amazement, she is excelling in every subject. This creates a rift between her and most of the other girls. Using her developing skills as a Intelligencer, Saphronia uncovers a plot around the test of a new dirigible. Before long she, and her close friends, are deeply involved with vampires and the Picklemen.

I enjoyed the 8.5 hours I spent with this story. The plot was a good continuation of Sophronia’s adventures. The characters in the story are typical of those found in Young Adult novels. The book reminds me of the Harry Potter books in some respects. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Etiquette & Espionage”

“Etiquette & Espionage” was published in 2013 and was written by Gail Carriger (http://www.gailcarriger.com). Ms. Carrier has published nine books, this being the first of “The Finishing School” series.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this Young Adult Steampunk Fantasy novel as ‘G’. The novel is written in the first person and is set in 1851 era England. Though this England is rich with steam powered devices and primitive robots. Rather benign vampires are a significant part of society, and werewolves have made up the backbone of England’s military for some years. The primary character is 14 year old Saphronia Temminnick. She is the youngest child of her family and has a reputation for trouble.

She is sent off to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality by her parents in the hopes that her rough edges will be removed and she can find a proper husband. Little do they know that the Academy is far from the normal Finishing School. Certainly the normally expected subjects are taught, but in addition, the young ladies of Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy are being taught the skills needed to be an Intelligencer.

Saphoronia does not want to be sent the the school, but once there she fits in well and excels in all of the classes. On the way to the school, Saphoronia is involved in a skirmish with Skywaymen searching for a secret device. Once at the Academy, which turns out to be suspended beneath three large dirigibles, Sophoronia’s talent for mischief is unleashed. Before long she has engaged three of her fellow students in a search for the mysterious device.

I enjoyed the 6 hours I spent with this story. The plot was not a surprise, but I liked the Steampunk creations that Ms. Carriger wove into the story. The characters in the story are typical of those found in Young Adult novels. The book reminds me of the Harry Potter books in some respects. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Steel Lilly”

“Steel Lilly” was published in 2013 and was written by Megan Curd (http://megancurd.com/). This is Ms. Curd’s fourth novel and the first in “The Periodic Series”.

“Steel Lilly” is a Young Adult Steampunk/Fantasy set in a post apocalypse Detroit, Michigan. I was alerted through http://daily.ereaderiq.com/ that the book was available for free. I would rate this book as ‘PG’ as there is a little violence. The novel is written in the first person and the major character is Avery Pike.

Avery is an Elementalist, that is, one who is able to exert some control over one of the elements. In Avery’s case, she can control water. This is important in her world as everything runs off of steam. The very survival of her home, Dome Four, depends upon steam for power. A world war has left the Earth in an unlivable state. The only survivors live under domes, and as far as the residents of Dome Four know, they are the only survivors.

But life in Dome Four is not a pleasant one. Avery has been alone for years since her parents disappeared. When Avery’s best friend Alice Dobson is being sought after by the Polatzi, Avery takes advantage of a strange boy’s offer and runs away with he and Alice. The boy, Jaxon Pierce, takes the girls in a strange machine to Dome Seven.

Supposedly, Dome Seven has a school for Elemantalists where she and Alice will be well treated, and she will learn how to control her ability. Avery soon finds though that the new Dome has it’s own set of secrets. One of those secrets concerns the location of her missing parents.

The novel took me about 5.5 hours to read. The premise that some people became “Elemantalists” after being exposed to radiation from bombs used in the war seems a little far fetched, but then this is a fantasy. The plot was not bad, and it kept me engaged with the story. I give this novel a 3.5 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “The Time Roads”

“The Time Roads” was published in 2014 (October) and was written by Beth Bernobich (http://www.beth-bernobich.com). Ms. Bernobich had written 7 novels. The eBook is available on Amazon.

I obtained this novel for free in advance through https://www.netgalley.com for review. The book was written in the third person and is a combination of Time Travel, Steampunk, Mystery and Thriller. Most of the novel is set in Eire (Ireland), though in truth it is really four interrelated short stories rather than a novel. The primary characters are Aine Lasairiona Devereaux, Breandan O’Cuillnn, and Aidrean O’Deaghaidh.

Aine is eighteen when the stories begin and unexpectedly becomes Queen of Eire when her father dies. She has seen a demonstration by Aidrean of his experiments and, once Queen, expands the support her father had extended to him.

Breandan is a scientist and he experiments with time. He believes he will eventually be able to communicate, if not send a person, through time. After Breandan moves his laboratory to the castle at Aine’s request, they gradually become lovers.

Aidrean is a soldier who is appointed body guard to Aine. Aine trusts Aidrean and she often sends him on special missions on her behalf. Aine and Aidrean share a close bond, more than she simply being his Queen.

The setting is in a world much like our own at the beginning of the 20th century, though in this timeline Eire is the dominant political power over the Irish and British Isles. Airship travel is in vogue between major cities of Europe. I liked the characters for the most part, and the pace kept things moving and my interest up. Of the four stories, I least enjoyed the second. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also posted on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Steel and Song”

“Steel and Song” was published in 2014 and was written by Ani Bolton (http://www.anibolton.com). This is her second novel and the first in “The Aileron Chronicles” series. The eBook is available on Amazon.

I obtained this novel for free in advance through https://www.netgalley.com for review. This story is a Young Adult / Fantasy / Alternate History / Steampunk tale told in the third person. Due to Mature Language, Mature Situations and Violence, I categorize the book as ‘R’. The novel is set in Russia, but in a different Russia than we know. In this story the Cossacks, rulers of Russia, are at war with the Franks. The primary characters are Tova Vanaskya and Piers Nikolayevich.

Tova is a young peasant girl living in rural Russia. She, as many of her fellow gytrash, have magical skills. In Tova’s case she is an Air Witch with an ability to control the wind. Because of her young age and ability to use her power to navigate a coal barge, she has escaped being drafted into the Cossack’s army. Her luck finally runs out though and she is torn from her mother and younger sister as a conscript.

Piers is a Cossack and is the last young male of the House of Rus, one of the seven Houses. He commands an aileron, a military air ship, and repeatedly throws his ship into battle. He has tallied many kills, but he is never satisfied with his successes, fighting internal demons on every flight. He lost his Air Witch on his last mission and goes looking for a replacement. By the time he makes his way to the replacement depot, all that is left is Tova, which he takes as better than nothing.

Tova displays high skills for someone untrained flying the Aileron. She makes friends with other of the conscripts and finds that there are some ready to revolt against the Cossack’s oppression. She makes friends with the other Aileron crew members, and impresses them and Piers with her ability. There is also a growing attraction between Tova and Piers but as a Cossack, his social position is far above hers.

I enjoyed the five hours I spent reading this novel. There is a touch of romance along with the action Tova and Piers face against the Franks. I thought the characters were well developed, and I liked the story. Over all I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also posted on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Steampunk Trilogy”

“Steampunk Trilogy” was published in 2014 and was written by Paul Di Filippo (http://paul-di-filippo.com). It is actually a collection of three stories – “Victoria”, “Hottentots” and “Walt and Emily”. Mr. Di Filippo has published other works. This eBook is available from Amazon.

I obtained this publication for free through https://www.netgalley.com for review.

Victoria – Set in 1838 London. the main character Cosmo Copperthwait combines a newt with cells from humans and grows what looks like a fully formed woman. As it turns out, the creature he has created looks very much like the young Queen Victoria. When Queen Victoria disappears, the newt is substituted for her until the missing Queen can be found. Cosmo is involved in a search for the missing Queen.

Hottentots – The main character is Louis Agassiz who is a Swiss scientist. I can’t say more than that as I struggled to finish this portion of the novel.

Walt and Emily – This is set in 1860’s with Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman as the main characters. Emily’s brother is in pursuit of the afterlife and has brought a collection of characters to his home to help him get there. Emily is a disbeliever, but accompanies them just to keep them honest. She is also infatuated with Walt Whitman.

First, none of these seem to be “Steampunk” to my mind. Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steampunk) defines Steampunk as “a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery,[1] especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. Steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or American “Wild West”, in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. Steampunk perhaps most recognisably features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era’s perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art. Such technology may include fictional machines like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or the modern authors Philip Pullman, Scott Westerfeld, Stephen Hunt and China Miéville. Other examples of steampunk contain alternative history-style presentations of such technology as lighter-than-air airships, analog computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine”. Needless to say I found none of these attributes present in any of the tree books, so I am at a loss as to why it is labeled as “Steampunk”.

In the first two stores, dialog was written to include character’s accents. This made them very hard to read.

I thought that “Victoria” was a little odd, but tolerable, though I did not find the story very engaging.

“Hottentot” was incomprehensible. I forced myself to finish it and I am not sure what the point of the story was. There was a side of the main character that was bigoted against blacks. Perhaps it was meant as a satire.

“Walt and Emily” was the best of the three, though it was too full of characters thinking and speaking in poetry for my taste.

Needless to say I did not enjoy the eight hours spent reading this work. I feel like those eight hours were stolen from me. This was certainly the worst work I have read this year, and quite possibly the worst publication I have ever read. I give it a 2 out of 5.

My book reviews are also posted on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).