Science Fiction

Science Fiction

 Morlock Night by K. W. Jeter,  originally published 1979

The premise, Wells’ novel is a straightforward story about a device that allows one to travel in strictly linear time. It expresses the common modernist idea that technology can do anything but may destroy humanity in the process. In Jeter’s book, the Morlocks seize the time machine and invade 19th century London with it. It takes a Victorian premise and mashes it with Arthurian legend and lost technology from Atlantis.

Infernal Devices: A Mad Victorian Fantasy

 by K. W. Jeter, originally published in 1987

Jeter’s Infernal Devices is one of the funniest steampunk books ever written. The central character, George Dower is a hapless English “every man” character comparable to Arthur Dent in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The story begins as a mysterious Brown Leather Man enters George's watch shop with a strange device in need of repair, claiming it was made by George's father, a brilliant watchmaker skilled in all forms of clockwork devices. George, who has inherited his father's shop, but not his father's talent, agrees to look at the device, although he knows his chances of repairing it are slim at best. George is quickly dragged into an ongoing conflict involving the Royal Anti-Society, the Godly Army and the Ladies Union for the Suppression of Carnal Vice. His investigation leads him to a strange neighbourhood in London, Wetwick, which is inhabited by denizens who are a hybrid of humans and fish. All sorts of absurd things happen to Mr. Dower until the madcap plot is  knotted together with an elaborate dig about Victorian sexual repression. This was the first novel in the genre to heavily feature clockwork technology but there are elements of pure fantasy as well.

The Difference Engine
by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling  published in  1990

The Difference Engine is widely regarded as having helped establish the genre conventions of steampunk. It is a serious, hard science fiction story set in a parallel universe where Charles Babbage’s calculating machine was actually mass  produced and used to create an information age one hundred years earlier than in our time line. It’s 1855, and the computer has arrived a century ahead of time due to Charles Babbage accomplishing his dream of creating both the Difference Engine and the more-advanced Analytical Engine. Part detective story, part historical thriller, the adventure in The Difference Engine begins with the discovery of a box of punched Engine cards of unknown origin and purpose. Cards someone wants badly enough to kill for.

Things in Jars
Jess Kidd Published in 2020
Atria Books (USA)

More Gothic than steampunk, but may be threaded into the scene with the Victorian 
slant. London, 1863. A strange puzzle has reached Bridie Devine, the finest female detective of her age. Ms Devine  is pulled into the macabre world of fanatical anatomists corrupt surgeons, as she investigates the kidnapping the secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick. The hostage is an extraordinary child who is reputed to have supernatural powers. This rumour of the child’s abilities has attracted the attention of spurious characters. Bridie Devine, Winds her way through the sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie will not rest until she finds the young girl. Luckily, an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary, aids her search. Things in Jars is a spellbinding Gothic mystery that collapses the boundary between fact and fairy tale to stunning effect and explores what it means to be human in inhumane times.


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