Steampunk Priestess

Just finished reading my first ever Steampunk novels — that is, unless you count Jules Verne — and feel absolutely inspired! The two tiles are “Boneshaker” and “Dreadnaught,” by Cherie Priest.

Ironically, just two weeks earlier I completed and submitted a short Steampunk story that I wrote for a Writer’s Journal contest, not realizing there was an actual sub genre dedicated to my story theme. What fun to discover that it actually fit somewhere!

When I was a kid, my best friend and next door neighbor passed hours beneath his porch pretending we were space travelers, seafaring characters and adventurers of all kinds. Not a single toy or prop were involved; instead, we imagined every single element of our travels and carried with us an imaginary stash of gadgets tucked away in an equally imaginary drawer beneath the imaginary control panel of our imaginary vessels. No matter what danger befell us, our drawer held the answer in the form of brass gadgets powered by steam or other power sources that mimicked the machinery revealed in Jules Verne’s many novels. Although we had not yet read the books, being only in the 6-8-year-old range, we’d read some of it and seen enough photos in books and scenes in movies to imagine just about anything.

Later, when the Wild Wild West hit TV, I counted the days until I’d see what new spring-loaded, steam-powered gadgets Artimus Gordon would cook up for Agent West and himself to foil that week’s nemesis.

Still today I marvel at Verne’s vision and ingenuity and coming alive whenever I see a vintage dirigible and marveled as Dr. Loveless wheeled around in his steam-powered wheel chair in the 1999 film The Wild Wild West.

Ms. Priest brought it all back for me in these installments of what she calls her Clockwork Century series. The series currently boasts four three novels: Boneshaker, Clementine and Dreadnaught, along with a story titled Tanglefoot which is available free online at Subterranean Press. A fourth novel in the series, Ganymede, has a scheduled release date of Sept, 27, 2011.

Mind you, I am not a zombie person; I tend to avoid zombie stories like… well… the plague. Yet Priest’s inclusion of humans who become zombiefied when exposed to “the Blight” added an intensity to Boneshaker and Dreadnaught that gnawed at me even after the books were closed. They are rendered that well. Not sure whether these creatures exist in Clementine, which I have yet to read, but it’s my guess that they do. Sadly, I can’t find a copy available anywhere but my local library, and even those copies are out on loan. Patience, Bill…

If you’re looking for adventure that is almost certainly different from what you generally read, I recommend you give Cherie Priest or something else in the Steampunk realm a try.

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About Bill Weiss

Bill Weiss is a creative and freelance writer and founder of the Writerspark creative writing group.
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