Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Steampunk Trilogy

The Steampunk TrilogyThe Steampunk Trilogy by Paul Di Filippo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Victoria: Naturalist Cosmo Cowperthwait succeeds in creating a human-newt hybrid he names Victoria, after the Queen who she resembles. Unable to support her, Cosmo stashes her in a brothel. Meanwhile, Queen Victoria vanishes and the Prime Minister proposes they swap one Victoria with the other. Will anyone notice before they find the Queen and return her to the throne?

This story was a hoot! Steampunk lends itself to Python-esque humor so easily I'm surprised more people don't go for the humorous approach. The characters and setting were well done, especially for an 80 page novella. The idea of a fly-eating amphibian impersonating the queen without anyone knowing is a gem.

Hottentots: Professor Agassiz and his group of scientists scramble to track down a fetiche (with happens to be a preserved vulva in a jar) that will summon Lovecraftian beasties when invoked. But can Agassiz put aside his prejudice toward blacks long enough to get the fetiche?

Hottentots was just as funny as the first story once you got past the racism of the main character. How can you not love a story with a chapter title like Moby Dagon? Lots of Easter eggs in this one, like Herman Melville and HPL being minor characters.

Walt & Emily: As romance blooms between Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, the two poets join an expedition to the afterlife with a group of spiritualists and scientists. Will their romance survive the trip?

Yeah, this story was the most bizarre of the collection. The afterlife they visited was unique, though it may be drawn from spiritualist sources. While I don't know much about Dickinson, Whitman's character seemed pretty authentic from what I've read of the man. The medium heading up the expedition was by far the best character in the story.

To sum up,if you like your steampunk stories to have a strange and humorous bend, this is the book for you.

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