Summary: When the most perplexing crimes are committed in London, Scotland Yard calls in their best man: Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective. The only one of his trade, Mr. Holmes’s most enticing cases are chronicled by his long time friend, a retired army doctor. This case is perhaps the most enticing of all. A member of the royal house has been slain in a seedy room in one of London’s least fashionable neighborhoods. However, in this detail rich and elegant alternate history retelling of A Study in Scarlet the Royal House is not Windsor: it isn’t even human.
Bottom Line: In a seamless blend of Doyle, Lovecraft, and his own signature dialog style Mr. Gaiman has created 45 minutes of pure joy. While you do not have to be familiar with Lovecraftian lore to follow the narrative, fans of the mythos will greatly appreciate the thoughtful inclusion of the Old Ones into this classic tale you think you know.
Who can live with just one Halloween post? In honor of the best (if not best, at least most colorful) holiday here are more ideas for brining steam into your Halloween plans and a review of the Gail Carriger short story The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar (part of the Parasol Protectorate series).
Don’t forget to share your own Halloween costumes and concepts at firstname.lastname@example.org and via Twitter @SteamLib.
Music playlists are a staple of every party no matter where it’s hosted. While the classics like “Ghostbusters” and “Werewolves of London” will always hold a place in our hearts it never hurts to add some new pieces into the mix. I put together a small list highlighting some of my favorites from steampunk bands and pop-musicians:
Other suggestions include Abney Park, The Clockwork Dolls, Professor Elemental, and Jonathan Coulton.
Is your library in an area that hosts a large cosplay community?
Invite local groups to come and show off their costumes on Halloween and maybe do a Q&A on costume creation. If you’re lucky enough to live near a convention (you can check the Airship Ambassador Convention Listing ). You also might be able to find local artisans/crafts people who would be interesting in coming with some of their steampunk works (tiny hats, gloves, jewelry) to display and sell last-minute costume pieces.
Last but not least a review of a Gail Carriger Parasol Protectorate story, my recommendation for a quick read for book groups or to curl up with while you binge on candy.
Title: The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar: An Alessandro Tarabotti Story
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Parasol Protectorate side story
Genre/Style: Adventure, Short Story
Read If You Like: The Parasol Protectorate series, mysteries,
Ever wonder where Alexia got her sass? Search no further: in this short story originally published in the “Book of the Dead” anthology edited by Jared Smith we get our first full glimpse of Alexia’s father, the adventuring Alessandro Tarabotti.
When the Templars need a job done then expect it to be done quickly, discretely, and completely. When Mr. Tarabotti arrives in Egypt he knows these expectations and with the assistance of his trusted valet (and to the only level Mr. Tarabotti seems about to attempt, his friend) Mr. Floote he hopes to carry out his mission regarding a man and a mummy. However when an embalmed cat, an old ‘yoo-hoo’-ing acquaintance from England, and a blushing young Leticia Phinkerlington appear, things get unexpectedly complicated.
Great for a little read while waiting for trick-or-treaters.
Author: Evan Butterfield Series: Photograph series
Genre/Style: Art book paired with detailed character introduction
Read If You Like: Short stories, character art, or photo-books
Summary: Welcome to the creative world of Mr. Luxet Tenebrae, one of Victorian England’s grandest photographer and writer. Inspired by engineering, history, politics, and the swift technological changes of the 19th century this collection of portraits and detailed synopsis of his subject’s work. With an eye for the historical details, Mr. Tenebrae paints a detailed portrait to match his pictures.
Mr. Tenebrae, the alter ego of California based photographer Evan Butterfield, blends various art types into each image. Each character is expressed through a lavishly costumed model and a creative text description. The collection takes the idea of a stuffy, repressed Victorian male and turns it swiftly on its head in this blending of cultural commentary, art, and pseudo-science in a way only a steampunk master can.
Bottom Line: A thin volume filled-to-bursting with fantastic and complex images paired with descriptions sure to inspire anyone out of writer’s block.
Audience: Family Friendly (without being dull). Think “Wild Wild West meets Scooby-Doo”
Welcome to the adventures of the League of S.T.E.A.M. (Supernatural and Troublesome Ectoplasmic Apparition Management). Founded in 1884, the League is a professional collection of the most experienced and dedicated supernatural management team. Trained in exorcisms, ghost hunting, Kraken removal, and more the League is well equipped with the latest in Victorian technologies and ready for whatever comes next.
This multi-platform group offers three things: a professional-quality web series, live interactive performances at conventions and events, and a podcast. The performances and videos are pure steampunk based on hand-crafted pseudo-scientific technologies with Victorian flair. Their videos mix fully developed Victorian characters with the supernatural, comedy, adventure, and some delightful storytelling. Their quality and popularity are proven with their successful Season 3 Kickstarter funding project, which raised over $30,000 with the help of 567 individual backers.
Bottom Line: A highly successful web series and live-performance group, the League offers a pure Steampunk experience from costumes to gadgets to guest stars to zombies.
Author: Ann & Jeff Vandermeer, Editors
Series: Followed by Steampunk II
Genre/Style: Varies by story
Read If You Like: Short stories, a lot of variety, light-steampunk, or introductions to authors
This collection of stories is, eclectic, to say the least. Styles range from Western Mysteries, excerpts from larger adventure stories, short sci-fi, and some non-fiction essays. However, it’s blessing is also it’s curse. While the stories range offers a lot to readers who are wholly unfamiliar with the genre, tried and true steampunk fans may be frustrated at the lack of flying machines, automatons, altered costuming, and general “can do” spirit steampunk is known for. With the exception of a few stories, most pieces in the collection are very steampunk light, meaning they have very few steam elements, or those elements aren’t spot lighted in the story over all.
Bottom Line: While the stories are interesting and well written, with the exception of Lansdale’s piece that reads as if it was written by a prepubescent boy, they aren’t focused enough for me to recommend this as a preferred steampunk collection.