Which Steampunk Christmas Novella Is Right For You?
Trees are trimmed, candles have been located, presents are wrapped and meals are planned. (Or if you’re like us, they haven’t yet, but by the time people are expecting holiday cheer, everything will be done.) After all of your hard work it’s time to get yourself a gift and what better than some terrific steampunk holiday stories? The newly released anthology A Clockwork Christmas contains four short stories that will certainly get you in the mood to celebrate. You can buy the e-collection from Carina Press, or purchase any of these tales individually. And because we know you don’t have a whole lot of spare time right now, we’ve broken down each story in the quartet so that at a glance you can see which of these terrific short stories might be right for you.
Title: “Crime Wave In A Corset”
Author: Stacy Gail
Setting: Boston at the turn of last century
Summary: Cornelia Peabody is a thief. She is able to stay one step ahead of the law (and her marks) by using her ingenious inventions to aid her criminal activities. However, she has one rule — never steal from an individual, only go after large, impersonal institutions. When Cornelia unknowingly breaks her own rule there is hell to pay — in the form of Professor Roderick Coddington. Incensed by Cornelia’s callous disregard of his deceased sister’s most prized possession, Roderick will do anything to get back the artifact. Trapping Cornelia at her own game, he locks a deadly timepiece on her wrist and promises that it will explode unless she returns his property. In order for Cornelia to successfully steal back the piece from her buyer, she must come up with her most daring scheme yet, and Roderick will be along for the ride.
Audience: The Thrill Seeker. Readers looking for some fast paced action will absolutely love to get to know Cornelia. She has nerves of steel, a mind that never stops scheming and a heart so vulnerable that she must keep it hidden so she won’t get hurt. Roderick is certainly not ready to go up against this feisty heroine, but readers will be glad that he does, because if anyone is in need of a little holiday cheer, it is Cornelia.
Title: “This Winter Heart”
Author: PG Forte
Setting: Santa Fe, 1879
Summary: Ophelia Leonides’ father is dead and she’s left with no other option but to return to her estranged husband, Dario, and the Republic of New Texacali. Ophelia hopes that he will give her enough money so that her and her son can start a new life. But her homecoming is as painful as she always imagined. If Dario was angry when he found out that his wife was not born to her parents, but rather created by them in a lab, then he is downright furious when she shows up now, seven years after he dismissed her from his life. Dario cannot believe that Ophelia has a little boy in tow, one that she tries to pass off as his son. It shouldn’t be possible that she — a thing — could have birthed a child, but if it is all a lie, then why does being with them feel so right to Dario?
Audience: The Philosopher. The implications of this story are tremendous. What actually makes a person a person? Is there such thing as a soul and can something that is made from machine parts have one? What are emotions and how are they created? These are just a few questions that the reader will be considering long after this wonderful story is over.
Title: “Wanted: One Scoundrel”
Author: Jenny Schwartz
Setting: June 1895, Swan River Colony, Australia
Summary: Suffragette Esme Smith is fighting the most important battle of her life: getting heard in a man’s world. In order to make inroads to convince others of her views, Esme decides she needs an ambassador. Someone who can enter the men-only clubs and discuss politics, which would further her cause. She wants a scoundrel — some quick talking charmer whose loyalty can be purchased. Esme decides that newcomer Jed Reeve will fit the bill quite nicely. Jed has never considered himself a scoundrel; far from being a man about town, he is usually locked away in his workroom tinkering with his inventions. But because he desperately wants to spend more time with the delightful Esme, he agrees to go along with her scheme. However, when real danger presents itself and Esme is blackmailed, Jed finds he is neither inventor nor a scoundrel — he is a man in love and willing to do whatever it takes to protect his woman.
Audience: The Activist. While Schwartz’ story has perhaps the least obvious steampunk elements, the author more than makes up for this with witty dialogue and genuinely nice characters. Esme is particularly intriguing. She is so passionate about her work that readers will find themselves wanting to join her cause.
Title: “Far From Broken”
Author: JK Coi
Setting: Manchester, England prior to the First World War
Summary: Colonel Jasper Carlisle and his wife, prima ballerina Calliandra, had a fairytale romance. After meeting and falling in love, they married and each continued to follow their passion in life — Jasper and the military and Callie and her dancing. This all comes crashing down when Callie is kidnapped and tortured by Jasper’s enemies. When she is found, Callie has been so badly damaged that doctors must use mechanical parts to keep her alive. Upon waking to find that she is more machine than flesh, Callie would rather die than live in her new steel body. However, Jasper will not let her give up. He made a deal with his commanding officers to save her by any means necessary, and unbeknownst to Jasper this meant outfitting Callie with indestructible parts so she can be used in the war effort. But while Callie may now be physically strong, she remains an emotional wreck. Her husband wants his loving wife back and the War Office wants a fighting machine that they built her to be, but Callie doesn’t know what she wants for herself.
Audience: The True Steampunk Aficionado. This story is the most violent of the collection and also the most heart wrenching. Going from being a darling ballerina to being part metal-and-wire is a second form of torture for Callie. The author explores Callie's feelings flawlessly and she also puts focus on the ingenious mechanisms that now power the heroine.
So whether you are a thrill seeker, activist philosopher, true steampunk aficionado (or some combination of the four) you can pick up each of these short stories online at Carina Press for under $3.00 per novella. Or treat yourself to a holiday splurge and pick up the entire collection for $8.99 here. And stop back tomorrow when we dissect the short stories in another e-collection — one featuring contemporary tales.