A century ago, when times were tough (as they are now) and jobs were scarce (as they are now) and people needed inexpensive entertainment to get through their days, the pulp magazines were born. They were filled with lurid tales of adventurers and detectives, ape men and wild women, science fiction and romance, true crime and fantastical yarns. Science fiction was born here, and noir detective stories. Readers were transported to deep jungles and cursed pyramids, desert islands and mad scientist lairs, and they got to forget their lives and all the uncertainties of a post-world-war world for a little while.
Now, things are getting tough again. And we could really use some cheap entertainment again…*
Enter “Steampunk Tales.” This collection of 10 stories by award-winning authors takes you back to the days of Victorian inventors who never used muscle when a gear would do, and never met a piston they didn’t like. Steam-powered computers, mechanical men, dirigibles and anything that can be thought up by a human mind and realized in brass, iron and leather.
As for the stories themselves – like in the original pulp magazines, some worked for me, some didn’t. Some, like “Project Moebius-5” and “Tempus Fugit,” had great promise but ended abruptly and poorly. Some were experimental and had excellent passages, if not plots, like “The Anachronist’s Cookbook” and “The Man and the Robot.” “Benedice Te” was a rollicking good adventure, “A Grain of Sand” was a decent inventor’s tale, and the world of “The Reanimation Emporium” is one I’d like to read more stories about. One or two of the rest I didn’t finish, but overall it wasn’t a bad evening spent.
“Steampunk Tales” will be published monthly, and will only be available for the iPhone or iPod Touch. Once the 3.0 OS comes out, you’ll be able to order new issues from within the app. Just $1.99.
* OK, yes, “cheap” doesn’t include the pricve of the iPhone/iPod Touch itself, but work with me, here.