STEAMPUNK REVIEWS



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SUSSEX STEAMPUNK TALES  

(Brighton, Sussex, UK) & 

WRITERPUNK  PRESS 

(Seattle, WA, USA)

My very own Steampunk Imperium is only just taking off, with many exciting developments to come over the next few years. It all started with my short story "The Oval Sky Room" (based on Poe's "The Oval Portrait") in the Writerpunk Press anthology Merely this and Nothing More, Edgar Allan Poe Goes Punk. That was followed by "The Rottingdean Rhyme" (based on Rudyard Kiplings "A Smuggler's Song") in the subsequent Writerpunk anthology, What We've Unlearned, English Class Goes Punk. Using these two stories as back stories to a larger whole, I wrote the first novella of the Time Flight Chronicles, Amster Damned. This will be followed by Brightonesque, as well as a stand-alone novel called For the Love of a Republic, and more short stories. 

reviews

AMSTER DAMNED

Alice from Victorian England is in Amsterdam searching for a missing person. Here she encounters colourful characters, steam punk and steam power. Her exciting adventure is well-written, in depth, detailed, and is presented with panache.

(AmazonCom 28 June 2017)


Very cleverly written…the main character, Alice, is a feisty and inquisitive English girl on a mission from Brighton…the scenes of old Amsterdam are amazing…the pace is fast and furious…

(GoodReads 8 June 2017)


One does not just read a Nils Visser book…One lives it.

(AmazonUK 22 June 2017)



A very nice example of steam punk. Rooted in good characterisation and solid place settings, it allows the more fantastical elements to be real. A derring do tale of adventure.

(AmazonUK, 16 August 2017)


A great, fun and imaginative book. This is a great, fun book oozing with imagination and characters, situations and imagery that are just on the right side of believable in the context of an alternative steampunk reality. I really recommend it…get on with writing the next instalment, I want to know what Alice does next!!

(Amazon, 9 September 2017)

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and my only regret is that I have finished reading it! A rollicking, clever, fun, imaginative adventure story with a good bit of subtle social commentary at the same time…With Amsterdamned, I was immediately immersed in a fantastic steampunk world of airships, devices, spies and detectives, with a clever look at the idea of time travel and its attempted regulation. And the words…oh, the words.

This book has the absolute best use of airships I have ever come across. As a sailor, I am familiar with using wind patterns to my advantage in the horizontal plane – but this story takes it three-dimensional and at one point uses all the variations of wind patterns and eddies to an amazing degree; what excitement, what adventure!

I had first met the main character of Alice in a short story in one of the Writerpunk anthologies and fell in love with her as a feisty little girl. Now that she’s all grown up and running her own adventure, it’s even so much better. All of the characters were delightful and fully-realized. Also note, this story is completely contained with a satisfactory ending – no need to have read any other stories. And may I say, I am intrigued and delighted with the idea that there may be another one coming along after this. Keeping my fingers crossed.

(AmazonCom, July 20 2017)


The main action in this tale takes place over a very short time frame, as private detective’s assistant Miss Kittyhawk is in Amsterdam on a missing person’s case. We’re offered an initial setup that looks mysterious enough – the case of the missing botanist – but as a few days of plotting and dramatic escape unfold, it turns out there’s a lot more to it. As the main drama plays out, we get details of Miss Kittyhawk’s back story, and she is certainly not as she first appears. There’s smuggling in her family background, and social unrest in her social background and rebellion against the state in her heart, but the state seems to be trying to recruit her, so that’s clearly all going to go well in future books!

The world building around the action-orientated part of the plot is superb, as a large and complex reality emerges. This is a world in which time travel is a criminal offence that will get you executed if you don’t have the right paperwork. This is a world where the skies hum with many different kinds of craft, and the scope for adventure, and misadventure, is vast.

I also really appreciated that this is a story whose main characters all come from the back alleys and slums, and who are not enchanted by the great colonial, industrial machine, nor are they profiting much from it – well – smuggling aside! There’s an explicit critique of the ways those in power see and treat the masses, and plenty of real life relevance in that mix.

On the whole, a charming and entertaining read with the potential to develop into a really good series. I’ll be looking out for the next one.

(WordPress Druid Life, 18 October 2017)


This book is EVERYTHING we love about Steampunk. An exquisitely well crafted adventure with characters to die for, this is Falkner meets Hodder with the most elegant Ada Lovelace twist we have ever encountered. Competent PI Alice Kittyhawk is sent to Amsterdam on a routine mission to discover the whereabouts of an old family acquaintance, Dr Braxton Beesworth, but under the imposing shadow of the formidable Waag, with its Gestapo-esq Time Police, and in the company of smugglers, seditious book dealers, an exiled Admiral, a cat called Fiveways and the magnificent Furry George, Alice finds herself delving into the dark and complex world of temporal travel where morality is blurred and the paths of duty and honour do not always lead in the same direction. Oh, and if you have enjoyed Nils Visser’s short story ‘The Oval Sky Room’ you will be over the moon to see some much-loved characters making an appearance too! We were so distraught when the story ended and we had to put this one back on the shelf, that we emptied an entire caddt of Lapsang in one sitting.

(The Curious Adventures of Messrs Smith and Skarry, 4 September 2017)

WRITERPUNK PRESS ANTHOLOGIES REVIEWS


REVIEWS: WHAT WE'VE UNLEARNED

THE CLASSICS REMIXED WITH A PUNK VIBE

If you're not familiar with the Writerpunk books, then you're frankly missing a treat.

This latest installment from Writerpunk Press follows up on anthologies that give punk takes on Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe. Punk takes, I hear you say? Well, that means steampunk, or cyberpunk, or any other kind of punk that captures the attitude and style of one of the various subgenres. Here, that sees a cyberpunk take on A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, with a rigger trying to fathom what is real and what is simulation. It sees a steampunk Kipling palling around with zeppelin-flying smugglers in Nils Nisse Visser's grand fantasy. It sees a Beowulf with Vikings recast as tanks under their fiery commander Bea Wolf. Tom Sawyer is reborn as an automaton, and Huck Finn and Anne of Green Gables soar into steampunk action. There's more - far more, but the sheer invention across the anthology captures the imagination. I truly loved the Edgar Allan Poe collection from Writerpunk - and this is a more than worthy successor.

(Amazon, 4 October 2017)

(image, CC 2.0 Stew Dean)

REVIEWS: MERELY THIS AND NOTHING MORE


LOVE POE? LOVE PUNK? THEN THIS IS A NO-BRAINER – IT’S A GREAT READ!

If the sheer style of this idea - a punk take on Edgar Allan Poe - doesn't seduce you, I'm not sure what will, but I'm game to give it a go.The punk in the title is all things writerpunk - be it steampunk, cyberpunk... alas no unicornpunk*, but one can't have everything! The collection features a number of writers, all contributing their take on the works of Poe. Bookended by very different takes on the Fall of the House of Usher, we stop off at variations on The Raven, The Masque of the Red Death, The Facts In The Case of M. Valdemar, The Telltale Heart and more. Stories are given a new spin with clear love and affection from the writers - just take a read of Carol Gyzander's Clockwork Raven to see the careful attention to detail in the updated tale. The opener, by Jenny Blenk, is also a fine example. A cyberpunk vision of the Fall of the House of Usher, where nanomachines and failed software integration is undermining the home of the Ushers and, as the story unfolds, it appears the Ushers themselves. Splendidly done and with a real urgency to the tale that gives a freshness to the familiar. Andrea Hintz's take on the Telltale Heart, Ticker, also gives a vibrant update to an old tale, with the tick-tock urgency of the would-be cyber-modder clearly locked in the grip of madness. Elsewhere we have the therapy sessions of M.Valdemar, brought to life by David Stegora, or the jaunty Search for Eldorado, by Rie Sheridan Rose, a short but sweet piece of poetry that deserves to be turned into a steampunk convention drinking song! Also short, but making me wish it was longer, was Jeffrey Cook's Red Sky At Morning. Splendid writing, but feels like it all came to an end a bit too quickly, just as I was getting settled into the tale. There is the gruesome - such as Anthony Stark's 32 Ways To De-Objectify Your Lover or Voss Foster's Ivory - and the darkly, quirkily fun, such as Virginia Carraway Stark's delightful and mischievous King Pest. Tabula Rasa, by Jayelle King, also deserves a nod for its neat exploration of someone trying to pry open their past after a memory wipe. I can't pick a single favourite from the collection, but I adored the richness of two stories. In Nils Nisse Visser's The Oval Sky Room, a girl born to poverty finds the possibility of salvation in posing as a model for a rich artist in his skyborne airship home... but dangers lie ahead. This tale was so neatly written that the pain of the finale cuts deep - beautifully done. The other standout tale for me was Holly Gonzalez's The Envy of Angels, who goes beyond a simple update of a Poe tale to create a whole cyber-influenced world in which one young man's singing voice first comes to offer hope... and then poses a threat to the foundations of the world as so-called angels stalk the Earth once more, with devastating consequences. Plug in your neural jack and download this, you will regret it... nevermore.

(*Unicornpunk may not actually be a thing).

(Amazon, 7 August 2016)

(image, CC 2.0 Stew Dean)

TRULY REMARKABLE

If one loves any work by Edgar Allan Poe it is hard not to find a joy in reading the many pieces in this book. An anthology in which numerous authors re-imagine and pay tribute to different works of Poe in the context of one of the many Punk genres and sub-genres. The result is truly something remarkable, aided in no small part by the clear love each author has for both their craft but also the man who inspired it.

(Goodreads, 30 March 2017)


FRESH TAKE

This is a fresh take on Poe with lots of creative punked additions. The various authors are accomplished writer with a thorough understanding of all punk genres. While I am quite familiar with Poe, I was pleased that these are not just retellings with the addition of punk items. They have achieved a fresh look at the genius of Poe.

(Amazon, 21 July 2017)


WIN-WIN-WIN

This anthology presents classic and beloved Poe stories and poems in the steampunk, cyberpunk, dystopian and utopian styles. I loved both interpretations of Annabell Lee and the Fall of the House of Usher. As an extra bonus, all of the money you spend on this anthology goes to help a no-kill animal shelter. So, you can't go wrong with this book if you love any punk genre, Poe, or animals!

(Amazon, 21 December 2016)


A STEAM-POWERED DREAM

Not a tome of lore likely to be forgotten evermore, 'Merely This and Nothing More' takes Poe and punks him straight in his darkest of tales. Whether you're well acquainted with Annabel Lee or you've never before heard the raven's quotations, you're sure to view ol' Ed in a new light having perused the pages of this delightfully dark and dreary anthology. You will dance with death on a decadent dirigible, watch the House of Usher fall and fall again, and discover what really makes the tell tale heart tick. Amidst the pits, pendulums, and pallid complexions, you will find a generous helping of clockwork, nanobots, and otherworldly beings. Even a dash of the film noir. Though largely in keeping with the sombre and at times sadistic atmosphere of the source material, the tone varies greatly from the careful optimism of 'Things of the Future' to the damning darkness of 'Silence, Stillness, Night'; from the curiously touching 'To Helen' to the deliciously demented 'Ticker'. Of particular note are Holly Gonzalez's 'The Envy of Angels' whose captivating concepts will leave you praying for more, and Anthony Stark's superbly satirical 'Thirty-Two Ways to De-Objectify your Lover'. That's not to diminish the fantastic imagery and endless creativity of the other works. I thoroughly enjoyed each and every twisted tale, from cover to digital cover. Love Poe? Love punk? Love PAWS? Take a peek and I guarantee you'll be enamoured before you can say 'Nevermore'!

(Amazon, 1 June, 2016)

(image, CC 2.0 Stew Dean)

ONE OF THE BEST RETELLING COLLECTIONS I’VE READ

I believe Poe himself would be thrilled with these retellings of his classic tails. If you're a fan of his dark work, you'll find satisfaction in these pages.

(Amazon, 4 June 2016)


FLAVOUR OF POE

If you love Poe, you will love this collection of short stories. It has all the flavor and mood of Poe with steampunk attributes. But it's not a retelling of Poe with a few steampunk items thrown in. The stories are clever and creative, originally inventive. With only a few exceptions, they are fresh stories inspired by Poe.

(GoodReads, 16 May 2016)


HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

I picked this gem up at a local convention and I was not disappointed. This is a wonderful little collection of short stories based on classic stories by Poe. I'm a huge fan of Poe, and I loved each individual author's take on the themes of each story, especially the punk aspect. The way the book is set up, each story is loosely based on a short story written by Poe, but with each author's on style and flavor added in order to re-imagine the story in a cyberpunk, or steampunk (or some other "punk") setting. I found myself going back to my well-loved hardback version of Poe's works to see just how the stories compared. In my opinion, some of them were even better than the originals! This would be a great book for classrooms already studying Poe's work, and quite useful for practice in comparative literature. I highly recommend this book for any Edgar Allen Poe fans, and fans of "punk" genres. Most of the stories are short and easily digestible, even for someone with a short attention span.

(Amazon, 3 September 2017)


PEARLS OF WRITING

With 20 short stories and 1 poem, this anthology is good value for money to say the least. The quality of the writing, editing and presentation is really high and its feels and reads like a quality product. The short stories and poems are all inspired by works of Poe and, for me, this can be a limitation. I love Poe and know some of his works really well, others less so. The stories I most enjoyed were those that used Poe as a springboard and there were a few that echoed Poe's original works a little too closely. This especially slightly tainted stories based on "The Raven", "The Pit and the Pendulum" and "The Masque of the Red Death". The two stories based on "The Fall of the House of Usher" did not have this issue - one by Jenny Blenk I really loved. The other by Sechin Tower was a little melodramatic for my preference. The stories based on Poe's works I knew less well worked much better for me - some achieved that genuine touch of chill associated with a true Poe classic without seeming derivative. I have found several authors new to me whose others works I will search out and enjoyed a pleasurable read which was well worth the entrance fee.

(Amazon, 6 June, 2016)

(image, CC 2.0 Stew Dean)

AN INTERESTING COLLECTION OF STORIES

Merely This and Nothing More is the third outing by the Writerpunk Project. This is a collection of short stories based Poe's works and set in various punk settings. I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced reader's copy and I have enjoyed going through the tales within. My expectations were met and exceeded by the stories I have read. I feel I had envisioned reading the tales and merely seeing a bit of punk elements added to the stories I had already read. What I got was something much different, as many of the stories are just the opposite, taking a few Poe elements to add them to a punk story in which they are fitting. As with any collection of short stories, even those by some of my favorite authors, not all stories resonated the same. Some were more enjoyable to me than others. I would say, though, that this is a professional collection of stories that works well together as a whole.I find star ratings a bit limited. I always prefer to rate based on my recommendations. I would gladly recommend this book to anyone that likes to read Poe , short stories, or any Punk Genre. I would also say that I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in any of those as well. It was a fun read that I will be glad to keep in my collection.

(GoodReads, 29 May 2016)


WONDERFULLY IMMERSIVE

This could easily have been a five star review. In fact, if a 4.5 were possible, that's what I would give, as it is. Many of the stories are wonderfully immersive. Actually, the only (few) times an individual story (or two) falls short is in an attempt to be social commentary or satire of current sociopolitical/cultural norms or movements. Those stories that are of another world, and that stay firmly in that world, ( no matter what the reader may infer about their own world by comparison) are the most successful. Those that are formulated to mirror modern social/political/cultural trends, in order to make some sort of statement, fall flat. I love a good piece of satire, and read a lot of what is often labelled "message fiction", where a story serves as a means to communicate a moral or political/social/cultural prescription. But, when narrative is lost to "the message" both the story and message are unconvincing What I guess I'm getting to, my major complaint, is that some of the stories are less narrative and more political statement. This would be fine, except that they tend to heavy handedness, and the world building suffers.

(GoodReads, 13 July 2016)


WELL WORTH A PUNT

This is a good book and could be great for some. The quality of the stories is good, the editing is fine so no typos/format issues to steal your pleasure and there is a good range of different styles and "voices". The downside for me sadly is the reason for the book - the stories are inspired by Poe, an author I love and know fairly well. Some of the stories (about 5 of the 20) are based too closely on well-known Poe tales and I found it hard to disengage the critical part of judging how it varied from the original to engage fully with the story. However, the ones I knew less well or where the author had used the Poe tale as a springboard rather than a framework were fantastic and I identified a few new authors to check out. With 20 stories and 1 poem, if you like steampunk, Poe or one of the many authors, this anthology is well worth a punt. You'll find at least a few pearls of note.

(GoodReads, 6 June 2016)

(image, CC 2.0 Stew Dean)

CAN’T GO WRONG

This anthology presents classic and beloved Poe stories and poems in the steampunk, cyberpunk, dystopian and utopian styles. I loved both interpretations of Annabell Lee and the Fall of the House of Usher. As an extra bonus, all of the money you spend on this anthology goes to help a no-kill animal shelter. So, you can't go wrong with this book if you love any punk genre, Poe, or animals!

(GoodReads, 21 December 2016)


NEW TO THE WRITINGS OF POE

I found this very well written collection of short stories intriguing, and makes me want to read the writings of the man himself, and know something about the writer Poe as well. Scary, disturbing, imaginative, and haunting. Some of the stories between these covers will stay with me for some time to come.

(Amazon, 22 December 2017)


ENJOYABLE BOOK

Both fans of classic Poe and those who have never read him before will enjoy this book. Many different authors bring their unique perspective as well as some Punk genre flair to each of the stories contained in the anthology. It was very entertaining and the writing is well done. The stories flow and transition smoothly throughout the book. I highly recommend this one and all proceeds go to charity so it is well worth it.

(GoodReads, 1 June 2016)


SO SO COOL!!

Ok...full disclosure...I love Poe and I love all the "punks"-steam, cyber, bio, what have you, but like that one time I tried peanut butter and watermelon sandwiches, I was worried that two things I love would prove...disappointing...when combined. WRONG! From the very clever nanopunk version of Usher to the final story, the Writerpunk stable of authors has created a series of witty, spooky, and brilliant reimaginings of Poe's classics. Poe fans can rest assured that the stories are not mere gimmicks, and punk people should rejoice in a new world of genre exploration. So pour a glass of nanite-infused absythe, wind up your clockwork raven, and settle in for a great set of tales!

(Amazon, 4 June 2016)

(image, CC 2.0 Stew Dean)