An outrageous trio of novellas that twist the Victorian era out of shape, by a master of alternate history: “Spooky, haunting, hilarious” (William Gibson).
Welcome to the world of steampunk, a nineteenth century outrageously reconfigured through weird science. With his magnificent trilogy, acclaimed author Paul Di Filippo demonstrates how this unique subgenre of science fiction is done to perfection—reinventing a mannered age of corsets and industrial revolution with odd technologies born of a truly twisted imagination.
In “Victoria,” the inexplicable disappearance of the British monarch-to-be prompts a scientist to place a human-lizard hybrid clone on the throne during the search for the missing royal. But the doppelgänger queen comes with a most troubling flaw: an insatiable sexual appetite. The somewhat Lovecraftian “Hottentots” chronicles the very unusual adventure of Swiss naturalist and confirmed bigot Louis Agassiz as his determined search for a rather grisly fetish plunges him into a world of black magic and monsters. Finally, in “Walt and Emily,” the hitherto secret and quite steamy love affair between Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman is revealed in all its sensuous glory—as are their subsequent interdimensional travels aboard a singular ship that transcends the boundaries of time and reality.
Ingenious, hilarious, ribald, and utterly remarkable, Di Filippo’s The Steampunk Trilogy is a one-of-a-kind literary journey to destinations at once strangely familiar and profoundly strange.
The term ``steampunk'' has come to intimate a subgenre of work set in a fantastic 19th century characterized by the inhumanity wrought by bogus science and a fanatical embrace of scientific method. Di Filippo's first book is a collection of three novellas that jumbles science and pseudoscience into an interesting, if not always completely successful, melange. The narratives are united not only by their reliance on the occult--mysticism dominates ``Walt and Emily'' while Lovecraft's monsters appear in the previously published ``Hottentots''--but also by their focus on female sexuality. ``Victoria'' replaces the Queen of England with a licentious salamander, while ``Walt and Emily'' features a robust poetic encounter between Ms. Dickinson and Mr. Whitman. Even the weakest of the pieces here--``Hottentots,'' in which nothing is learned while much credulity is stretched--features amusing faux-Victorian prose worthy of Anne Rice (``Like a Maine sawmill, like an asthmatic platypus... like a Michigan beaver... uneasily winter-dreaming of Ojibway hunters led by a wild Chief Snapping Turtle, Mister Dogberry roughly rasped and snorted through the night, making it nigh impossible for Agassiz to get any rest'') and enough ``scientific'' pasquinades to satisfy the Luddite in anyone.