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Machina Mortis: Steampunk'd Tales of Terror (Volume 1) Paperback – April 11, 2013
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The stories here do not fit neatly into any single genre. There are the distinct steampunk elements. The nineteenth century abounds with creaking ships, steam carriages, and gaslights. There are also notes of science fiction with the classic mad scientist, tubes, wires, and disturbing experiments. Many of the tales involve murder, intrigue, suspense, and that creep feeling that someone is lurking just beyond your line of vision. This is classic horror! Rather than attempt to define, I read with an open mind and the stories immediately absorbed me. The tales captured the details and richness of a bygone era. They were eerie without being gore/ splatter violent.
Gafford's anthology is an excellent introduction to the steampunk subgenre. This was my first taste and I am hooked. He brings together a wonderful group of writers with dark, fantastical tale to tell. Swirling gowns, clattering hooves, cobblestones, and the smell of brine fill the pages. So too do sinister characters, dark motivations, bubbling concoctions, and murder. Well done.
After all, steampunk horror is just too damn cool a theme not to love! Steampunk! Horror! Clockwork and gears, gaslight and steam, machines of death! A dozen stories of clank and scream, blood and oil!
In "Last Flight of the Bismark," Scott Baker serves up an airship full of zombies. Salena Moffat's "Bedlam" brings moody and atmospheric madness. "Patterns," by Drew Dunlap, pits an aged professor against horrors from beyond. Tonia Brown's "The Thumping in the Basement" brings a new assistant to the employ of an esteemed doctor, but, what happened to the previous ones? "The Last of the Bad Few," by Nathan Robinson, welcomes you to a steampunk utopian/dystopian nightmare where technology runs amok.
Sam Gafford's "Static" makes the threat of global war look comparatively mild when there's also otherworldly menaces to contend with. In "Whitechapel Transfer," by Theresa Derwin, the Jack the Ripper story gets an original and unexpected twist. "The Three Blind Men" by A.J. Sikes takes a slightly more fantastical tone in the form of some bumbling messengers of the gods.
Travis I. Sivart's "Nothing But a Dog: A Trio of Travellers Tales" combines steampunk and classic fairy tales in a weird Brothers-Grimm sort of way. "Clockwork Carousel" by Marie Andrews is a quaint and charming ride on a merry-go-round of creepy chills. In "The Black Banshee," by Buck Weiss, we get lively pulp and paranormal adventure. Last but hopefully not least is my own "The Garretton Ghoul," in which someone or something preys on the city's downtrodden artists.
If steampunk's your thing, this one is bound to please and entertain. So, put on your goggles or adjust your monocle, and get it today!