Airships. The very word conjures images of luxurious views of the ocean or the mountains. They make us think of the romanticized interwar years and are the symbol of a future that never came to pass; one that was cremated in the ashes of the Hindenburg. And yet they endure in the imaginations of people whose parents were not alive to see the fiery death of that future.
That brings us to the subject of this review: a duology from Sea Lion Press about a crew of a cargo airship by Tabac Iberez, composed of A Century Turns and Night Over the Bosporus.
From the start, the books are different. These are not the stories of aristocrats or generals, or even soldiers. The character are simply working-class folks trying to make their way in the world.
The series is led by Aleksander Van Riebeck, a roguish ship pilot from Michigan who changes ships multiple times over the course of the series. He is joined by several crewmen, including a navigator who is tasked with maneuvering through the aether, which allows for faster travel, throwing these characters into the supernatural in a manner reminiscent of the shipboard psykers in Warhammer 40,000.
The setting teeters on the brink of steam- and dieselpunk. This is the turn of the twentieth century, when European empires bestrode the world like colossi. This is mashed with an eighteenth-century notion of the aether and combines to form a world reminiscent of classic adventure pulp stories.
The first novel takes us from Michigan to Toulouse, France. The second spends most of its time in Istanbul. Night Over the Bosphorus lacks the globe-trotting adventure of the first novel, but the character work and political intrigue more than make up for that. Both books are must-reads for any airship, steampunk or dieselpunk fan.