- File Size: 589 KB
- Print Length: 189 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Circlet Press, Inc. (September 14, 2010)
- Publication Date: September 14, 2010
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00433TE7K
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,732,736 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Innocent's Progress And Other Stories Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
At first glance, 'The Innocent's Progress' is a hodgepodge of tenuously connected short episodes. Only later on does the tight interlocking structure of the whole become apparent. And what a world Tupper builds! Drawing on true historical elements, characters, contemporary art and literary landmarks viewed through a haunted stereoscope, this is the nostalgic past portrayed as dystopian future; erotic visions filtered through Victorian fun house mirrors and classic steampunk. The novel casts a cynical beam on its setting, an empire in decay, bereft of optimism, morally reactionary, stratified along lines of class, gender and race, hypocritically repressive wherever sex is concerned. In short, a world rife with seething conflicts and, thus, ripe with dramatic possibility. The characters cast odd shadows, like actors standing before flickering gas footlights on a stage. Indeed, stock-players of an ossified comedia de l'arte meet no-less rigidly typecast avatars of Victorian 'decency' in the titular opening chapter, engaging in a form of ritualized prostitution off stage. There is always a tinge of melancholy and regret, a sense of loss and foiled aspiration tugging at the heartstrings. But there is adventure--of a cozy sort--flashes of levity like sparks from a fantastical machine as our view of this at-once familiar and strange world gradually expands with each subsequent chapter,
In 'The Pretty Horsebreaker' and 'Spirit of the Future', we meet the irrepressible Miss Ccri (based on the notorious Catherine "Skittles" Walters) as she endeavors to do a good turn for the widow of a famous explorer and hero of the empire. (Captain Braen bears a striking likeness to the great real-life translator of the 'Kama Sutra', Sir Richard Francis Burton, while Lord Hough, Braen's rival and fellow collector of all-things erotic is, as the author informs us in his notes, "a hybrid of Richard Moncton Milnes, later Lord Houghton, and Henry Spencer Ashbee. The oily middleman, Mr. Wycke is a barely disguised Oscar Wilde). Famous literary characters appear in Tupper's world as well: in 'The Impurity', Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' is re-imagined sans the original's rigid black-and-white dualism with a rather delicious BDSM element, and a macabre love triangle involving servant girl Mary, at once "angel of the house and dominatrix."
Probably my favorite section of the book, the virtually self-contained 'Delicate Work', is Tupper's moving and mature twist on 'Oliver Twist', the author's self-described attempt to "put the punk back in steampunk". Tangwin, a teenaged orphan living in a vast prison-like institution for 'wayward girls' uses her innate inventor's skills ultimately to escape, but not before finding something wonderfully like love with the most unexpected of partners. For all 'the seeming lack of sentimentality in its telling, Delicate Work is deeply affecting, and one is left marveling at how the author so skillfully puts us into the setting, and the very soul of his characters.
Beautifully written, fastidiously researched, exquisitely brought to life, The Innocent's Progress is enthusiastically recommended.
He builds off of his two previously published steampunk stories for this collection, referring earlier characters and events but giving enough information that we can easily follow without feeling like we are being lectured to or distracted from the plot.
The plots are both complex and yet staples of Victorian literature including the classic Jekyll & Hyde story, the curious young lady taken advantage of by those in the lower classes, and the difficulty of orphans and other outcasts. Mixed in with these common themes are signs of empowerment for men, women, and those of the lower classes.
Most of the stories had a more male dominant and female submissive bent though there are women who turn the tables and exercise some power. There are even lesbian connections set within a world where it is simply assumed a man must need a woman.
The steam technology is really only firmly present in one of the stories. That's fine because just as I don't think consciously of how my computer works, I doubt most of these characters wonder about where their power comes from or how it all functions unless it is her job to make repairs.
I'm not a steampunk fan but these six stories pleased me because it is clear that Tupper took the time to investigate the Victorian world, create a viable alternative history, and then allow the social structures to play out with well paced and well described passions.
A nice surprise at the end of the collection was a commentary by the author on each story, with notes on where he got his ideas and why he chose some of the elements he did.
It's an intelligent, well-written collection. I'd recommend it to those who already like steampunk, and also to those who, like me, are trying it out for the first time. Based on this collection, I'd read more.
Should I have anything additional to say it would be that if you have reservations about it being Steampunk, never fear. The references are far more in nuance than smacking you with a 2x4 of brass like many other novels in the genre. If you shy away because it is classified as erotica, I would say that the plot actually lends itself to erotic moments rather than sex strung together with loose plot.
Needless to say, I enjoyed this book a lot, and I highly reccomend it to anyone. Not just those in "The Club" so to speak.