“Under a Brass Moon”: A Cool Collection of Steampunk and Science Fiction StoriesPosted: October 7, 2016
Under A Brass Moon: A Sci-Fi Steampunk Anthology is not quite as big the last anthology by Curiosity Quills Press which I reviewed, Chronology, but it is still pretty big. Unlike Chronology, which was full of pleasant surprises for me, Under a Brass Moon was just what it promised to be in the title: a collection of sci-fi and steampunk stories, and every story had elements of one or both genres.
The biggest contributor is YA author Jordan Elizabeth, who had six stories featured. Included is a Cogling short story, Upon Which Victor Viper Sat, which is a steampunk ghost story. (See my review of Cogling here.) A cursed hotel, where spirits are trapped. When Lady Rachel Waxman’s chest of paper cranes is stolen from Edna, she is determined to get them back, even if it means she must face a cursed hotel with trapped spirits and a desperate boy, willing to do anything, even murder, to regain his family’s fortune. Maiden in the Clock Tower is a stand-alone love story, along the lines of a fairy tale, with a rather sweet Happily Ever After. The other four short stories are companion stories to her Treasure Chronicles series, of which I also had the pleasure of reviewing Treasure Darkly. They Call Her Treasure is a humorous piece, sure to rouse a chuckle or two, but the other three, Treasure in the Field, Run of the Treasure and The Other Face of Treasure fell short for me, as if they weren’t finished and the promise of the premise wasn’t quite fulfilled. It’s a problem I find a lot in writing short fiction.
The second biggest contributor is James Wymore, with four stories: Sherriff Anderson’s Steam Deputies, a steampunk western shootout with steam powered deputies; Gearhead, a story of victory from apparent defeat when a captured gearhead knight tricks the Baron and steals his captured war machine; Vault, a magical steampunk story of witches and wizards and trapped spirits; and The Dark Glass, a tale of Jinda, an orphan girl, and her brother, who dream of escape from the care of the mean old butler who has been assigned with their care, but when Jinda discovers the key that leads to the treasure their father left them and escape is close at hand, the story ends. Like the Treasure Chronicle short stories of Jordan Elizabeth, mentioned above, this short story fails to deliver on the promise of the premise.
One of the problems with short stories is that it is hard to get in a full story arc with so few words. Other stories from this collection which left me feeling there should be more include Talking Metal, by W. K. Pomeroy, Fritz Finkel and the Marvelous Mechanical Thing, by award winning author Lorna Macdonald Czarnota, (We get to see why the two can’t be together, the obstacles their love faces. We get to see the grand measures taken in leiu of courtship, because it is a short story. There is a realization that she feels the same way he does, but steps to achieve the goal are only alluded to. The reader is left feeling cheated and wanting more.), Lucky Escape for Goldilocks Girl, by Irish writer Perry Mcdaid, (This protagonist had the feel of a female steampunk Robin Hood, promising to be an exciting story, but alas, it falls short of delivering on the premise.), and Queen of Cobwebs, by Jeremy Mortis, (A mechanical spider vampire tale. The protagonist is not very proactive and is rescued by outside intervention. This tale had the potential to be really good, but didn’t follow through.) Another story that didn’t quite do the trick for me were Harvester, by poet and author Amberle L. Husbands, a story about sentient plants, which lost me totally.
Under the Brass Moon also features two steampunk time travel stories: A Connecticut Yankee in Queen Victoria’s Court, by G. Miki Hayden, and Hour of Darkness, by Ashley Pasco; and two steampunk spy stories: Kung Pow Chicken for Pygmalion, by fantasy and science fiction author D.J. Butler, and The Poison We Breathe, by Christine Baker. For a steampunk ghost story, check out Calliope, by award winning author Terri Karsten, and for a great not-love story, try Henry the Tailor, by Grant Eagar. Upcoming writer Nick Lofthouse also does a passable science fiction story where the future isn’t so promising in Vacant.
My favorite stories from Under the Brass Moon include The Iron Face of God, by freelance writer and author Benjamin Spurduto, which is a pretty good steampunk mystery. It kept my interest. The story didn’t really let on to the motive for the murders, but maybe that’s okay with this one.
Also on my favorites list is Ethereal Coil, by MG/YA novelist S.A. Larsen, where nothing is as it appears, and The Women of Lastonia, by Lorna Marie Larson, which is a science fiction story that takes readers to outer space and planets far away. A Gulliver’s Travels of outer space, but this starship crew break the first rule of space travel when they rebel against the planet’s distasteful laws, which dictate they give up one of their shipmates or interfere with the evolution of the alien species.
Last but not least, my favorite story from this collection is The Balloon Thief, by New Adult author Jessica Gunn, a steampunk heist story where everyone is after the treasure and no one is who they seem. This story is well written and quite enjoyable.
Overall, the stories in this collection were entertaining, but many of them left me disappointed just due to the fact that I didn’t feel they had a full story arc and there should have ben more. Even the ones which left me wanting more, were entertaining stories, though not all were enchanting. I give Under the Brass Moon three quills.
Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read, and she never charges for them. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.