A special review of a special book that will be available soon.
LIKE CLOCKWORK: Steampunk Erotica, edited by J. Blackmore, Circlet Press, 118 pages, ISBN: to come, reviewed by Barry Hunter.
This is the second volume of three that began with the groundbreaking LIKE A WISP OF STEAM. The third volume, LIKE A CORSET UNDONE: More Steampunk Erotica!, will be released in September. For those who have not experienced the wonders of steampunk erotica, it is not necessary to have read the first volume, but it is highly recommended. As its title implies, LIKE A WISP OF STEAM, is light and airy compared to the harder, more polished tone of this volume.
This volume contains seven stories that show a polish and mirror reflection, much like the gleaming metal creations that are the topics of consideration for the reader to ponder and wonder of the alternate Victorian era filled with steam powered dirigibles and clockwork mechanicals, some which apparently have minds of their own.
The book opens with “The Yearly Scientifiction Colloquium” by Eric Del Carlo in which the first gathering of scientifiction writers’ takes place and Roland Creely discovers that he has a fan that shows him her understanding his writings of “robotics” better than he does. The ending is a delightful surprise. “Caged Dragons and Explosions” by Helena Weiss tells the story of Juliana who is married to Albert who creates fiery dragons and trotting unicorns. Albert has not gained success with his lovely creatures, but when Juliana returns from a trip, she finds he is giving it up in order to go to work for an armaments maker; she looks for a way to save her marriage.
Elizabeth Schechter’s “The Succubus” is the story of the mechanical mistress in the House of Sable Locks. In order for the clients to partake of the pleasures of the house, their first visit is to the fourth floor home of the Succubus. The Succubus is lonely. Although she is extremely proficient in her duties, she is rarely visited more than once. She was created to be the best and she takes her job seriously. Monique Poirier crafts a tale of a mechanoscientist who inherits his uncles’ laboratory and creations. One of the creations, an automaton, has been boxed up for many years and after being reassembled he discovers the answers “Concerning the Ars Mechanica”. Jason Rubis tells us of a “Nightingale”. In the Far East, a nightingale’s song was well loved and longed for. In this story, our nightingale is Lady Jane, the mistress (?) of the Jupiter Club. Her job was to keep the members happy and she had no voice to tell anyone of her dalliances. Then one day she is given a voice…
“The Clockwork Theater at the Midnight Fair” by A. N. Cortez is about a night at the theater when the Nobles bring out their Gentles for a night to remember. Thanks to the Clockwork Theater and a week of chastity, it is a night of anticipation and release. “The Beast in the Machine” by Lionel Bramble is possibly the most interesting story in this collection. It is a blockbuster of a finish to the volume. Herein Lady Cheyenne is enlisted to endure the testing of a new interrogation device for the Empire. Only after she is in the middle of the test does she find out her arch nemesis is now in charge and will go to any length to break her resolve.
This is a very solid and well done addition to the offerings of Circlet Press. Be sure to check out all of their offerings at www.circlet.com. I would also like for J. Blackmore to consider adding some fiction to her resume. Her introduction to the volume is not to be missed.