Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Vingt mille lieues sous les mers: Tour du monde sous-marin cover

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, or Vingt mille lieues sous les mers: Tour du monde sous-marin, as it is titled in the original French, is probably the book Jules Verne is best known for.

First published in 1870, it remains a timeless classic. It has been inspiration for countless other works, be they graphic novels, books, movies, art or even theme-park rides, such as those in Disneyland Paris and Tokyo DisneySea.

The Nautilus and to a lesser extend the kraken have become some of the most recognizable symbols of steampunk. Verne himself is not only commonly seen as a visionary but as one of the grandfathers of the genre; a founding father, so to speak.

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Murder on the Titania and Wireless

Murder on the Titania

If you’re an avid reader of steampunk books and haven’t read any of the Alex Acks’ yet — get them!

These collections of steam-powered short stories are fresh, fun and star a merry band of colorful (literally) characters you’ll come to love in no time. (Bar a few, the villains are properly loathsome.)

I recommend reading Murder on the Titania first. It introduces several characters that will continue to play a major role throughout and it will give you a proper sense of chronology. You can read the stories in any order, but from start to (a hopefully temporary) finish is still best. You may be left with a lot of questions if you delve into Wireless first.

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Moorlander

Moorlander

Industrial rivalry, plots for murder, intrigue, politics and a world where wondrous devices are engineered: Moorlander has it all.

At first glance.

The first in a series by Robert T. Bradley, this book takes you into a world where plots unfold all around the main characters.

The author has absolutely done his best to create a fully developed world with fleshed-out characters. It’s great that we’re not lacking backstory. But there is too much of a good thing.

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Seacombe Island

Seacombe Island

Seacombe Island is the first novel by Karen Garvin. The story follows the protagonist Tom Ashton in his misadventures on the mysterious eponymous island.

We meet Tom as a struggling baker who is neglecting his fiancée, Ellie. He loses both in a fire from which he only barely manages to escape himself. As people suspect him of having caused the fire, Tom turns to his friend, Sam Grey, for help, who puts him up with uncle Edward.

This uncle seems to be in shady business and it doesn’t take long for Tom to get involved. As he becomes a suspect in Ellie’s death, Edward and Sam persuade him to work for them on Seacombe Island.

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Smoke and Steam

Smoke and Steam

People with wings, freedom fighters, engineers, (mad) scientists and more — these are the characters that make up the pages of Smoke and Steam.

The anthology is comprised of four short stories by four different authors, respectively, “Wings Over Staria” by J.C. Rock, “Hekatite” by Karen Garvin, “Heart of the Matter” by Michelle Schad and “Freedom for a Foster” by Cathryn Leigh.

This does mean you get four completely different tales and writing styles, meaning there’s a chance you won’t like every story as much as the next.

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The Fourth Protocol

The Fourth Protocol

Frederick Forsyth’s The Fourth Protocol (1984) was turned into a movie, starring Michael Caine and Pierce Brosnan, only three years after it was published. Given that the film largely follows the plot of the book, I’ll cover both in this review.

In the novel, it is the infamous British defector Kim Philby who helps draw up a Soviet plot to detonate a nuclear weapon in Britain and trigger a Labour victory. A left-wing government (Neil Kinnock had yet to defeat far-left Militant entryists at the time) would — the Russians hoped — withdraw the United Kingdom from NATO, kick the Americans out and give up the country’s nuclear deterrent.

To make it seem like an accident, the Soviets plan to smuggle in the nuclear weapon in stages, assemble it in Britain and detonate it near an American military base. This would violate the fictional Fourth Protocol to the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which supposedly banned the non-conventional delivery of nuclear weapons.

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Ghosts of Empire

Ghosts of Empire

The long-awaited sequel to Ghosts of Karnak (reviewed here), book four in George Mann’s Ghost series, is a disappointing read. I’ll just come out and say it from the start.

I’ve been a fan of his works so far, even though I will admit I have not read all of them, and I have especially enjoyed his Newbury and Hobbs series.

Whereas I previously didn’t feel I was missing out from not having read the first two installments in the series, I felt like I was missing big chunks by only having read Ghosts of Karnak with this latest book. Luckily I did read that one or I would have been clueless and enjoyed it even less.

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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume 3: Century

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume 3: Century cover

Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill have created in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen the most ambitious and inspiring steampunk franchise. Volumes 1 and 2 will top many steampunks’ list of favorite books and deservedly so. They are rich stories with intricate plot lines and sympathetic characters.

The in-between Black Dossier was a bit of a letdown story-wise and I’m afraid things have gone further downhill.

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Infernal Devices

Infernal Devices

K.W. Jeter’s Infernal Devices is a classic steampunk novel worth reading. Having been published in the early 1980s, it is was on of the earliest works of steampunk and has a lot of the themes that would connect steampunk works.

The author, Jeter, is considered a founding father of steampunk. He is famously credited with coining the term steampunk in an interview. Almost as an afterthought he said you might call the new movement something like “steampunk”. The term ended up sticking even if Infernal Devices faded into relative obscurity.

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The Skyborne Corsairs

The Skyborne Corsairs

The Skyborne Corsairs is a short steampunk novel written by Alexander Rooksmoor which I had the pleasure to read and review for you. My interest for the novel derived from the title: I like everything airship-connected. And everything steampunk too, so I considered this a must-read.

Anthony Cavendish is travelling in the Mediterranean Sea toward Algeria, where he is going to take his next command. The ship is attacked by sky pirates, who fly a type of aircraft never seen before. The pirates take everything valuable, kill whoever tries to oppose them and kidnap as many woman as possible, including Henrietta, Anthony’s wife.

Anthony is quite resigned never to see Henrietta again, but two other passengers, an Italian revolutionary and a Canadian author, convince him not to surrender and together they decide to hunt the pirates and free the women.

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