- File Size: 1362 KB
- Print Length: 456 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Xchyler Publishing (February 28, 2015)
- Publication Date: February 28, 2015
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00SZ1ORE6
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#1,029,794 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
- #1536 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Steampunk
- #2168 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Anthologies & Short Stories
- #2212 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Anthologies & Short Stories
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Mechanized Masterpieces 2: An American Anthology Kindle Edition
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If you are a fan of steampunk, this book is for you! This is a great anthology. Steampunk is a hard genre to work with when you have to keep it short. World building is key, and that's hard to accomplish when your time is limited. You've got to not only create fleshed out characters and an intriguing plot, you also have to create a fantastical world as the backdrop. These authors did a fantastic job.
I was quickly sucked into these mechanical worlds and I loved the wide variety of characters. Some stories were dark, some were romantic, some were action packed, and some were a little lighter and made me laugh. Most were many of these things at once. I also liked that they were all inspired by famous stories or poems. It added an extra layer of interest and made me even more excited to read them.
My favorite was Invested Charm by M. Irish Gardner. It was dark and romantic which is a personal preference of mine. While most of the stories were of comparable caliber, there were 1 or 2 that I found enjoyable, but just not quite as good as the rest. I knocked off half a star for that, but I would still definitely recommend this book and I enjoyed reading it immensely.
Of course, sometimes the nostalgia of a familiar premise worked in a tale’s favor; my enthusiasm for the recent TV adaptation of the Sleepy Hollow legend and fond feelings for the cozy cast of Louisa May Alcott’s best-known work further enhanced my enjoyment of Jay Barnson’s “The Van Tassel Legacy” and Neve Talbot’s “West End”, respectively. The fact that I’m a sucker for a charming con game made D. Lee Jortner’s “Payoff for Air-Pirate Pete” and M. K. Wiseman’s “The Silver Scam” a pair of easy wins for me. And if you like your adventure accompanied by automatons with personality, “A Princess of Jasoom” by J. Aurel Guay is the perfect anthology opener.
Whether you’re a fan of Edgar Allan Poe or Emily Dickenson, the sea beasts of Herman Melville and Jules Vernes or the sled dogs of Jack London, or just a reader who likes a good book with a bit of clockwork flavor, this second volume of Mechanized Masterpieces has the makings of a classic in its own right.
J.R. Potter's story, The Rise of the House of Usher, is in the style of Edgar Allen Poe's classic tale (The Fall of the House of Usher) and was extremely well crafted. It was my favorite story in the anthology and I'm now a big fan of Potter's work. I just bought another antho and Potter has the lead story, Terra Mechanica, and it's great as well.
The other stand out story for me was Nautilus Redux by Scott Tarbett. This gripping story brought together two classic novels, and Nautilus Redux is both the sequel to Moby Dick and the prequel to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea! I was very impressed and the story pulled me in and captured my imagination the whole way through.
There are several other good stories, but there are a lot of story flavors in this anthology, and everyone has their own taste. The final story, West End by Neve Talbot was also quite interesting, and should please steampunk fans in a big way. I really liked the alternate history in Talbot's story.
Before I elaborate on my experience with the stories, I would like to address the very real likelihood that readers will be directly comparing these newer stories to their originals. Personally, I don’t find such comparisons helpful or relevant in any way – these writers aren’t attempting to compete with legends of literature. They are simply presenting an established work in a new light, using inspiration to create a brand new story. Given the constraints they were presented with, the authors should be commended for even attempting the challenge.
Given the fact that I had never before truly experienced steampunk and didn’t really know what to expect, I decided that a series of short stories might be the perfect taster. I was excited to begin reading, as I don’t often take the time to read short stories. This is unfortunate, as I am well aware of how difficult it is to write an effective and impactful short story; it’s a delicate art, and one that demands a great deal of talent. In only a few thousand words, the writer needs to set the scene, develop themes and get the reader invested in the lives, personalities and fates of the characters. Despite the fact that this is not a book I would usually pluck from the shelves of my local bookshop, I’m glad I decided to read and review this copy. There is nothing worse than feeling unadventurous with regard to your reading habits, forever unwilling to challenge yourself with something unfamiliar.
From the offset, though I must say that I found the stories well-written and compelling, I didn’t race through this volume. In order to fully enjoy the book, I had to take breaks between the stories. So although I would not describe this as a book you simply cannot put down, I would also argue that this is the case for most short story collections. You don’t race through books like these; you enjoy them periodically, whenever the mood strikes you.
What I liked most about the collection was the diverse range of themes to be found in the pages. Regardless of what you favour or what you are in the mood for, you are likely to find a story to satisfy you, whether it be romance or something more Poe-like and macabre. Having said this, the book is hardly an awkward mish-mash of genres. There are definite similarities or parallels uniting the anthology, meaning that you are not likely to get bored and you will also have a good time comparing and contrasting your favourite stories.
As with any collection of short stories, you will have your favourites and you will have stories that do not capture your attention in much the same way. I might argue that some stories don’t entirely adhere to the strict rules that are meant to be tying the entries together, but for the most part the authors present a compelling reason to delve further into steampunk. Whether you are new or curious about the subgenre or are already infatuated with it, I recommend this book.
One slight criticism I do have that may annoy a reader or two is the fact that if you have the eBook version of this piece, there is no way of quickly navigating from one story to another. The table of contents is not really ‘clickable’, so you can’t decide the order with which you’d like to experience the stories. I also experienced a strange frustration at the end of some of the stories, as I wanted to keep reading, despite the fact that the story had come to a close. I suppose rather than this being a failing, it is actually a testament to the author’s talent and an inevitability of every short story.
Over all, I recommend this book, although I’d suggest buying the hardcopy version if you would like the freedom of deciding which story to read and when. The writers appear talented and unanimously passionate about steampunk. This would be perfect for you if you require a few thousand words before bed to help you unwind.
Most recent customer reviews
Rather than write a review for the entire anthology, I'd like to highlight a couple of my favorite stories.Read more