Wonderful and delightfully well-written steam punk novel, which envisions an alternative past of steam power instead of internal combustion. Steam robots abound, fiendish schemes, sentient oceans which move where they want, walking, steam-powered lighthouses (made necessary by wandering sentient oceans) and all kinds of wildly imaginative devices set in in Britain in an alternative past of about 1880 – 1900.
Set in the later part of the last century, the author, K.W. Jeter, writes not only in the flowery vocabulary of the time, but also expressing much of the prudish and luddite sentiments, as wells as the decadent aristocracy, and the ‘coal-baron’ mindset.
Excerpt – In Which Mr. Dowler meets the Iron Lady
… A palpable fear flooded the space, pervasive as the gaseous fumes and clouds of vapour, directed toward the iron doors as they began to ponderously swing open. The unadorned cylinders of their hinges groaned with the tonnage of the bolted metal. From the space revealed beyond, a more forceful gout of steam rolled outward, churning as those great thunderheads in a darkening sky which promise storms so violent and cataclysmic as to wrench oaks from the stony ground and transform placidly meandering rivers into torrents tumbling ancient bridges into their foaming waters.
The timid figures scrambled toward the sides of the chamber. Their doing so made a crucial revelation to me, by which I was at last able to hazard a guess as to the exact designation of the place to which I have been so dangerously guided. (more…)