Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Posts tagged “space

Penny’s Book Reviews: Shafter by Margaret McGaffey Fisk

Blurb:

Born in the abandoned subway shafts beneath First City, Trina measures life in the coin she steals from her wealthy father’s people living above. She gives little weight to her dying mother’s fairy tales about how her father will rescue Trina and her twin sister, taking them away from this planet. Yet the stars catch her attention every time she goes to the surface.

Trina is the protector, a role she created more from heroic tales in books her father gave them than anything in a shafter’s life. When she sees drunken aristocrats harassing laborers, she can’t turn away even though attacking them carries a death sentence. Her paternal grandfather discovers Trina before the enforcers can and offers everything she has ever desired—safety for her family and a way off Ceric.

Can she trust their family connection, or will the price of her dreams be more than Trina is willing to pay?

 

I fell in love with Margaret’s wonderful story weaving skills through her Steampunk series The Steamship Chronicles. This was my first encounter with her Sci-fi series and, as someone who tends to steer away from space-based Sci-fi and more towards Fantasy and Steampunk I was taken aback at how instantly I was drawn into this world.

Once I had pulled my head out again at the final page and re-orientated myself to reality, I realised that what had pulled me in and held me there so firmly was the characters – not just the focal two, but even those who only featured in one or two scenes were so intricately and lovingly portrayed I cared deeply about all of them at once.

I won’t mention the plot because it is marvellous and can’t be mentioned without spoiling the marvellousness but there is a lot to chew over in here – darkness and light, love and bitter hatred, intention and risk and an overall sense of ‘the human condition’ as being well intentioned but sadly often painfully fallible.

There is great love here in many forms – some of them dangerous – there is pain, yes, but at the end, thankfully, there is immense hope.


Morning Cuppa: The Quest Of The Prodigy

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to Max and Collin’s Temptingly Temporal parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster.

True, some have called it a anachronistic abomination and an scandalous misuse of time and space but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us this morning deep in philosophical debate with our dear friend Dodge Charleston on the possibilities of time travel.

If you are a Parlour Regular you are no doubt aware of Dodge and his fabulous theories however if you are rather new to our little world, let us offer you an introduction..

During recent years, several scientists have tried to create a theory to explain and understand the universe using the analogy of cake. The most promising and widely accepted of these has been Universal Fruitcake Theory, because it adheres most closely to the rule of Occam’s Slice, which states that ‘the theory which gives one the same comfortable satisfaction as a large slice of Victoria sponge is usually the most correct.’

Universal Fruitcake Theory states that the universe is like a fruitcake and was first formed when the All-Mother added all the necessary universal ingredients to her enormous cauldron and stirred it all together with a big wooden spoon. The ingredients came together in places and formed matter, which Dodge likened to the sponge parts of a fruitcake. This formation of matter left holes in other places which were immediately filled by high-energy, pan dimensional currants. Lastly, and this was perhaps what made the theory so comfortably satisfying, Dodge suggested that aether was like the half teacup of Earl Grey topped up with one part cherry brandy and one part ruby port, and poured over the top of the cake, thus soaking through the entire universe and pervading everything.

This gorgeous mouthful of a theory was first proposed in Dodge’s fictional children’s book written in 1835 and titled ‘Sallis In Plunderland.’ The story tells of a group of street urchins who are adopted by an elderly but destitute baker, who teaches them to make cakes and sell them on street corners and in Tiffin Dens, whilst skillfully avoiding capture by The Good Folk and The Watchers. The orphans accidentally manage to create a new universe in their large copper cake cauldron and are immediately sucked into a world where logic and reason appear not to exist.

Max’s mother was so outraged by the book that she ordered every copy to be confiscated and burned. Needless to say, this has made Sallis In Plunderland many times more popular than it would have been without the queen’s stamp of disapproval and bibliophiles and young men wanting to impress their sweethearts will go to any lengths to procure one of the few copies which have survived the flames. We believe even old Peril has a copy in his Lovely Library, alongside Dodge’s later work ‘Through The Cooking Class; an analogous approach to understanding the universe.’

Enthusiastic fans of Dodge have even gone so far as to make hand-written copies of the book and sell them for exorbitant sums of cash, but, sadly, Dodge has never seen a penny of the profits and, although his social calendar overflows with invitations to dine in the student quarters of various universities he has never heard of, or give speeches at various Tiffin Dens where the clientele were always so reluctant to let him leave that he has taken to carrying a Nock’s Sugar-Bowl Revolver, his finances do not reflect the popularity of his work.

Still here he is, lapping up our milk ration with the impunity of a Parlour Cat and devouring all our ill-gotten tiffin at a most ungentlemanly rate as he raves about his latest ideas for building a time machine out of a giant teapot…

I think I shall leave Max to do the polite nodding and smiling and instead attempt to lose myself in a good book…

prodigy

 

We first read this book a few years back under its first edition and we love the new look of the cover design on this one. This fast paced adventure is classic steampunk scrumptiousness with a cast of larger-than-life characters we instantly fell in love with.

When Mimi discovers a mysterious book in her local library she finds herself pursued by the ruthless Ambassadors Of Time who will stop at nothing to retrieve the book and gain its secrets for their demonic king.

Fortunately Mimi and her brother are saved by the adorable time-travelling thief Sebastian ‘Bas’ Barkley who introduces them to his marvellous space-time-dimension machine the ‘Bas House’ and a world of alchemical and scientific wonders where Mimi begins to unfold her wings, growing in self confidence and belief in her own worth and abilities. Ever looming is the threat of the king and as Mimi and her brother become more involved in Bas’s world Mimi discovers that only she has the power to protect the people and keep the secrets of time safe.

There are a lot of laughs in this adventure from some very witty character interplays, but be prepared for some tears too and even a little romance as the rich story line develops. We really really hope the series will continue with another instalment soon but in the meantime you can keep up to date with Claire E Smith’s news and writing tips via her blog at  https://lifemusecoffee.wordpress.com/  and youtube channel

 

Oh my goodness, Dodge is still ranting on, plastering the walls with cake crumbs in his frenzy and poor Max has fallen asleep, face down in a pile of cats and cream… Hm? No no I said cats… I suppose I had better put the kettle on and prepare our tea, which this morning is Blue Box Time Lord Tea (what else?) from Amiteaorganics 

The cephaloperois has hidden under the fainting couch and so there seems nothing left to do except bid you a very splendid morning and invite you back to join us tomorrow for elevenses (when we shall be hopefully free-loader-free) so, until then,please be always

Utterly Yourself.