Queen Victoria as a trollop-in-training whose newt-human clone serves as stand-in during Victoria's trysts? Walt Whitman
as lusty seducer of an only partly reticent Emily Dickinson
who loses the "Keys to the Inner Chambers of her Heart" to him? This fine and funny madness is "steampunk," a branch of cyberpunk fiction that locates itself in historical venues rather than in the future. Paul Di Filippo has certainly done his homework: the settings as well as the language emulate the times and, in Dickinson's and Whitman's cases, their poetic language, which asserts itself into their conversational dialogue and thoughts at most unusual but appropriate moments. Dickinson's "Universe Entire" is disrupted by a naked Whitman bathing in her rain barrel and singing his "body electric." But will Dickinson's "White Election" remain intact?
From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.