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ARCADIA SNIPS AND THE STEAMWORK CONSORTIUM

What a calculating beast is man

By Kyt Dotson, author of Black Hat Magick

Jun 2, 2010: Deep within the strong-beating brass heart of every steampunk aficionado is a vacuum chilled series of hopeful gaslit rooms filled wall-to-wall with books. And one day soon, one of those shelves in my heart will have this book.

Arcadia Snips and the Steamwork Consortium is a tour de force of silly mixed with the macabre, scabrous copper tinge of blood. It manages to wind the dizzying height of humor and edge it aptly with careful cuts. From the very first chapter—and the chapter that hooked me—it makes its lighthearted swipes at the imagination and drew smile after smile. At first the steampunkish metaphor and simile seemed heavy-handed, overwrought in fact, but soon they became fuel for the whimsical engine of my delight.

Victorian attitudes abound in the brass-city, a dystopia in its own right but not in our future, but our accidentally forgotten alternative-past. A place where villains and heroes alike have an almost cartoonish bearing on a world that manages to tempt suspension of disbelief with daunting and brazen attitude but never ceases to both enchant and frighten at the same time. This tale has left me in fits of gooseflesh laughter more than once.

Expect strong humor mixed with the oil and grease of industry; expect grand legerdemain run through the cogs and wheels of progress and chewed up by clever antagonists, incompetently-competent protagonists, and even a bit of social commentary about the Victorian attitudes about gender wars. Why I even caught an almost-reference to the old television series “Remington Steele” (wherein a woman detective hires a male “face man” to pretend to be the investigator.)

Even people not inclined to the steampunk aesthetic will probably enjoy this story. It has a little bit of something for everyone. Little explanation is needed for much of the far-fetched mathematics and mechanics of the lunatic mind as it’s deeply buried in laugh-out-loud metaphors; allowing the conspiracy, detective work, and general slapstick amazement to drive the story onwards.

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