A steampunk short story collection.

Publication year: 2009
Page count: 427
Format: ebook, pdf
Publisher: Book View Press

The collection has the following 9 stories:

“The Accumulating Man” by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
“The Persistence of Souls” by Sarah Zettel
“The Soul Jar” by Steven Harper
“Zombi” by Pati Nagle
“A Princess of Wittgenstein” by Jennifer Stevenson
“The Savage and the Monster” by Nancy Jane Moore
“The Water Weapon” by Brenda Clough
“The Sisters of Perpetual Adoration” by Judith Tarr
“Shadow Dancer” by Irene Radford

All of the stories have different main characters and the main story lines but the themes evolve and the setting changes which I liked a lot. In the first story the main character, Mary Shelley, (yes, she who wrote the Frankenstein) finds out about new science which she thinks is abdominal: it can transfer a human soul to another body. We get to see the consequences of this science in the other stories. Another scientific achievement is done by Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace; they create machines in the shapes of men. The metal men become more and more common, and are programmed for more and more varied tasks.

Many of the stories contemplate the way souls and machines are intertwined in this setting. Some of the characters wonder if a machine can have a soul. And if machines can feel and think for themselves, are they not slaves? “Zombi” especially explores the similarity and difference between humans slaves and the machine men. The story is set in New Orleans where slaves are still kept. “The Savage and the Monster” asks who is really the monster and why.

My favorites were the first story, “The Accumulating Man” because of the famous characters, yes, but also because of the way that Mary grows less timid during the story, “Zombi” because of the main character, and “A Princess of Wittgenstein” which was written in pure dialog. “The Soul Jar”, set in a circus, was also memorable. And the last one was delightfully unexpected.

While many steampunk works are fun and fast paced, this one has weighty themes and makes you think.

Book View Cafe has a sample: http://bookviewcafe.com/bookstore/sample/the-shadow-conspiracy-sample/

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