The Steampunk Trilogy

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An outrageous trio of novellas that bizarrely and brilliantly twists the Victorian era out of shape, by a master of steampunk alternate history

Welcome to the world of steampunk, a nineteenth century outrageously reconfigured through weird science. With his magnificent trilogy, acclaimed author Paul Di Filippo demonstrates how this unique subgenre of science fiction is done ...

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The Steampunk Trilogy

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An outrageous trio of novellas that bizarrely and brilliantly twists the Victorian era out of shape, by a master of steampunk alternate history

Welcome to the world of steampunk, a nineteenth century outrageously reconfigured through weird science. With his magnificent trilogy, acclaimed author Paul Di Filippo demonstrates how this unique subgenre of science fiction is done to perfection—reinventing a mannered age of corsets and industrial revolution with odd technologies born of a truly twisted imagination.

In “Victoria,” the inexplicable disappearance of the British monarch-to-be prompts a scientist to place a human-lizard hybrid clone on the throne during the search for the missing royal. But the doppelgänger queen comes with a most troubling flaw: an insatiable sexual appetite. The somewhat Lovecraftian “Hottentots” chronicles the very unusual adventure of Swiss naturalist and confirmed bigot Louis Agassiz as his determined search for a rather grisly fetish plunges him into a world of black magic and monsters. Finally, in “Walt and Emily,” the hitherto secret and quite steamy love affair between Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman is revealed in all its sensuous glory—as are their subsequent interdimensional travels aboard a singular ship that transcends the boundaries of time and reality.

Ingenious, hilarious, ribald, and utterly remarkable, Di Filippo’s The Steampunk Trilogy is a one-of-a-kind literary journey to destinations at once strangely familiar and profoundly strange.

Steampunk, the twisted offspring of science fiction and post-modernism, colors these stories set in the 19th century. Queen Victoria disappears from the throne and is replaced by a young, sexy woman, while Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman have a lurid love affair and travel to the future to meet Allen Ginsburg.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Paul Di Filippo’s The Steampunk Trilogy is the literary equivalent of Max Ernst’s collages of 19th-century steel-engravings; spooky, haunting, hilarious.” —William Gibson

“Di Filippo stirs up a funky stew of puns, literature, natural history and sex, and serves it up in an elaborate Victorian dish—300-odd pages of juicy reading pleasure. . . . From Dickens to the cutting edge of the avant-garde, Di Filippo’s got it covered, in a spunky synthesis that manages to be at once raunchy and well-read.” —SF Site

“With this superb trilogy, Di Filippo can lay claim to being [steampunk’s] supreme practitioner. . . . Di Filippo brilliantly combines authentic Victorian language with choice, outlandish premises to produce a variety of wry, inventive storytelling that is unlike anything else in science fiction.” —Booklist 
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The term ``steampunk'' has come to intimate a subgenre of work set in a fantastic 19th century characterized by the inhumanity wrought by bogus science and a fanatical embrace of scientific method. Di Filippo's first book is a collection of three novellas that jumbles science and pseudoscience into an interesting, if not always completely successful, mlange. The narratives are united not only by their reliance on the occult-mysticism dominates ``Walt and Emily'' while Lovecraft's monsters appear in the previously published ``Hottentots''-but also by their focus on female sexuality. ``Victoria'' replaces the Queen of England with a licentious salamander, while ``Walt and Emily'' features a robust poetic encounter between Ms. Dickinson and Mr. Whitman. Even the weakest of the pieces here-``Hottentots,'' in which nothing is learned while much credulity is stretched-features amusing faux-Victorian prose worthy of Anne Rice (``Like a Maine sawmill, like an asthmatic platypus... like a Michigan beaver... uneasily winter-dreaming of Ojibway hunters led by a wild Chief Snapping Turtle, Mister Dogberry roughly rasped and snorted through the night, making it nigh impossible for Agassiz to get any rest'') and enough ``scientific'' pasquinades to satisfy the Luddite in anyone. (May)
Library Journal
Raunchy, uproarious silliness in the time-honored sf tradition of alternative history. In the first novella, young Queen Victoria has disappeared, and the prime minister has called on inventor Cosmo Cowperthwait for temporary use of his recent creation: a nymphomaniacal, insect-eating queen-clone made from "newt and human growth factors, fresh cadavers." The next story finds Swiss naturalist and blustering racist Louis Agassiz to the Underground Railroad in search of the pickled, bottled genitals of a woman known as the Hottentot Venus. A potentially dangerous fetiche, it is also being sought by a Polish messianic cadre and a medieval sect, the Teutonic Knights. The final piece, "Walt and Emily," opens on a spring morn in 1860 as Emily Dickinson espies Walt Whitman "laving his muscled," naked body at a rain barrel outside her window. They join her brother, Austin, on a Spiritualist journey beyond the flesh in search of the souls of his regrettably aborted children. They set sail on the Bay of Seven Souls, aboard the Thanatopsis, Di Fillippo's poorly written dialog adds to the general goofiness. Recommended.-Ron Antonucci, Hudson Lib. & Historical Soc., Ohio
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781497626584
  • Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media LLC
  • Publication date: 7/8/2014
  • Pages: 396
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Di Filippo is a prolific science fiction, fantasy, and horror short story writer with multiple collections to his credit, among them The Emperor of Gondwanaland and Other Stories, Fractal Paisleys, The Steampunk Trilogy, and many more. He has written a number of novels as well, including Joe’s Liver and Spondulix: A Romance of Hoboken

Di Filippo is also a highly regarded critic and reviewer, appearing regularly in Asimov’s Science Fiction and the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. A recent publication, coedited with Damien Broderick, is Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels 1985–2010.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 9, 2014

    This book is comprised of three stories reportedly in the popula

    This book is comprised of three stories reportedly in the popular Steampunk genre, all written by Paul Di Filippo.

    They are decidedly mock-Victorian alternative history, lack any of the attendant steam technology which is the defining factor of Steampunk.

    I found the first story, Victoria, immediately atmospheric, though some descriptions seemed overly complicated and a few sentences near the beginning were overly long. I soon got involved in the story and established that it is about Queen Victoria and an entity called a 'Hellbender' that might explain some of the conspiracy theorists' speculations that the Royal Family are actually lizard people.

    The book displayed a more extensive vocabulary than many modern books exhibit and a rather fantastical plot wherein the Alchemically transformed newt-creature (ala Dr Moreau) impersonates the queen.

    There are cameo appearances by such entities as Dickens, Tennyson, Lord Byron and John Ruskin as well as a Parody American character called Nails McGroaty, though the story is mostly from the point of view of Mr. Cosmo Cowperthwait, a tongue-in-cheek version of a Victorian English gentleman who experiments with a method of Uranium based transportation, with predictably disastrous results.

    The story is rather whimsical, yet most of the research rings true, keeping in mind that liberties have to be taken in Alternative Histories. There is only a time or two when an American term sneaks in to give away the author's nationality. The prolific use of guns also reflects a particularly American attitude.

    There was a surprising twist near the end of this story and it did hold interest, if not believability. It was actually rather fun.

    I didn't quite know what to make of the second story, Hottentots. It is about a rather extremely racist scientist who compares mixed-race breeding with cross-species taxidermy and finds himself dealing with a back woman who has been a side show for nothing more than looking different from the average Caucasian. He refers to "Negroes" and I wasn't sure if the author might be racist or whether he was incredibly brave in creating such an offensive character.

    He is accompanied by this woman and her husband, an associate of his that has a dodgy mock-Germanic accent as they go on a voyage to find a Fetiche which is supposed to relate to some form of black magic. As Rosicrucians and Satanists were mentioned in the same sentence, followed by a reference to 'Hand of Glory' (from Santeria) and then "Hermetic herbs", bringing Alchemy into the equation, I have to conclude that research about magic for the story was non-existant.

    There were cameo appearances by Herman Melville and Darwin.

    The third story, Emily and Walt, involved a relationship between the two poets, Emily Dickenson and Walt Whitman. I'm not overly knowledgeable about the lives of poets, so I don't know if such a liaison could or might have ever taken place. This one also involved two abortions from the hapless Emily Dickenson and a spiritualist quest to seek communication with her unborn children. It was all a bit surreal.

    The writing itself is very good, but I found the second and third stories a little disjointed, too obsessed with genitalia, and generally less interesting than the first story, which I quite enjoyed despite the fact that there was not an airship in sight or any form of alternative steam technology that would have justified labeling the book as Steampunk.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2008

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    Posted May 1, 2009

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