Edited by Neal Levin and Danielle Ackley-McPhail
Cover Artist: Chaz Kemp
Review by Sam Tomaino
Dark Quest Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781937051563
Date: 29 November 2013 List Price $15.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Clockwork Chaos edited by Neal Levin and Danielle Ackley-McPhail is a Steampunk anthology and a very good one!
"Ambergris on Ice" by Jeff Young -+- Alternate History - Europe was abandoned during the Black Plague which is still virulent on the continent. Edward the Third and the Black Prince established New Britain in the New World welcoming survivors from the rest of Europe. Constable Cobham Peckwith of the city of Amphria has been regularly escorting Madame Kassandra Leyden to investigate unusual phenomena in which she uses her powers to communicate with the dead. While investigating the wreckage of a dirigible on Aurora (Greenland), they encounter a dangerous man who has developed a new kind of bomb. Very good story set in a world I'd like to see more of.
"King and Country" by Richard Marsden -+- World War I has been going 88 years and Leftenant Brian Willox, Sgt. Lemwell and their boys are in enemy territory on a mission to communicate with a spy. Willox valiantly takes down three armored Germans and completes his mission. What is really going on will give you a chill in this imaginative tale.
"The Last Yong-Shi" by Matt Dinniman -+- Our narrator is Boris, a man of Far Eastern descent whose country was conquered by the Gremlic Empire, which appears to be Russian. He is an engineer and because he is "Yong-Shi" he can handle the xin bricks which fuel his airship's boiler without getting the sickness. They are fighting the Hellenic people and their queen whom they call the Vinegar Whore. We get some hints about his past history and his marriage to a Hellenic woman. Good, effective story about a bad place to live.
"The Power of Her Position" by Bernie Mojzes -+- The Mary Kelly of this world, in which the East India Company is an independent country and the Mongrel Horde threatens Europe, did not become a victim of Jack the Ripper but has come into possession of a powerful weapon called the Influence Engine. She does better than most when wielding great power in this exciting story.
"Bell, Cog, and Scandal" by R. Rozakis -+- Evangeline Bell is a self-educated genius who came to the attention of Lord Hilden when she wrote a monograph on a proposed steam engine governor. She was invited to Hilden's gathering of leading scientists on aircraft design and is accompanied by her farmhand assistant, Jeremy. They both wind up fighting alongside Hilden and the others when he is challenged to a scientist's duel against Count Ravenswood. Their airship fights his moving artillery vehicles (tanks) and our plucky heroine and her assistant play an important part. Another solid story.
"Deadly Imitation" by Patrick Thomas (A Tale of Spellpunk) -+- The locale is a steampunk world created by aliens called aloff or bug eyes. Jackson Grimstone is a sort of Sherlock Holmes/superhero called the Spellpunk. He solves crimes usually set up by the aliens for the amusement of tourists, because they have his daughter hostage. This particular adventure involves a Jack the Ripper style murderer. Well-told tale in an interesting world.
"Miss Winterdove and the Exploding Eulogist" by Angel Leigh McCoy -+- Miss Josephine Winnterdove is attending the funeral of Ernesto Aperador, not to mourn him but to obtain a cravat pin before he is buried wearing it. The cravat pin contains the Candileja carnelian cameo that has certain alchemical properties that she wants to take advantage of. This all leads into a wild tale (as the title indicates). Lots of fun.
"The Foxglove Broadsides" by Gail Gray -+- Nathaniel Dillon is in love with Cecilia Bainbridge who runs the Equinox Bookshop. Secretly, though, she is a revolutionary working against the Industry for Consumer's Council that has banned newspapers. She has printed broadsides that she thinks will put a stop to the Council, but not in the obvious way. Good characters but I could not believe the political setup of this world.
"The Curious Tale of Elizabeth Nigel" by Patricia Puckett -+- Elizabeth Nigel is a plucky young woman chafing under the Victorian restraints of her parents. She is also a secret inventor who has created a clockwork chipmunk she calls Chipper. She is now working on what she call the CAT, Chapeau of Animal Translation, by which she could talk with the animals. Her parents want her to marry Lord Cecil Waltham who she has not seen since she was four years old. How do things work out for her? Splendidly, in this delightful story.
"A Cat's Cry in Pluto's Kitchen" by James Chambers -+- Morris Garvey, who made a fortune with his business, Steam Sweeps and Machinations Sundry, and Detective Daniel Matheson of the New Alexandria police force are trying to solve the crime of the theft of Brazilian virtuoso Felipe Sandeman's violin in time for him to play it at the closing of the World Expo. The case gets stranger and stranger and involved the cult of Bast, the feline god of the Egyptians. We are led on a merry chase with lots of twists and turns in another great story in this book.
"The Gilded Wing" by N.R. Brown -+- Our narrator is a woman who flies, illegally, around Paris using an ornithopter powered by steam and making use of air currents. When Henri, the man she loves, is killed by a fall during a race, she challenges Anton, a rich man she hold responsible for Henri's death. The race from the Eiffel Tower to the Seine. Good story.
"Deception" by C.J. Henderson -+- Gordon Steadwater Biggleton, Maker of Extraordinary Weaponry to the Crown has come into the possession of an extraordinary weapon, discovered in the Sudan, that can harness ectoplasmic energies to wield incredible power. He enlists the aid of Miss Folema Edgars, Captain Dollins, pilot Applejack Stephens and crackerjack mechanic Spitz (who is a chimp) and their airship Gibraltar to take him "beyond the wall d sleep" where they can acquire enough ectoplasm for Britain to rule the world. I won't say a lot more than that things do not go as planned but we get a grand adventure. Henderson never fails to entertain and succeeds brilliantly here.
"The Ghost of LÝve VanMeek" by James Daniel Ross -+- Esme Kuhn has put together the parts of a mechanical man her father had design and calls him Leo. Together, they try to find the treasure of the dead millionaire LÝve VanMeek in his booby-trapped mansion. Esme wants to restore the town of Ironton that died when the iron ran out in the mines. Her father had become an alcoholic when her mother died. She wants to make everything better. She discovers true secret of LÝve VanMeek in this wonderful poignant story.
The stories in this book are consistently entertaining and varied. If you are a fan of Steampunk, I recommend it heartily. Buy it from the publisher or from Amazon.