The third volume in the Tales of New Babbage series is out (and can be ordered through the link, hint, hint). Almost two years has passed since the previous volume, and at times I wondered if this one would ever see the light of day. (People have busy lives, I know, and this is a labor of love.) Seventeen new stories about the grimy, crazy, and wonderful Steampunk city. Stories of urchins and airships, carnivals and kraken, inventors and evil geniuses, monocles and megalomaniacs, raving lunatics and revenge. I don’t know who all was involved in assembling and editing the book, but Mr. A. E. Cleanslate, Miss Bookworm Hienrichs, and Miss Junie Ginsburg, and Mr. Mosseveno Tenk all played important roles, and all deserve a big round of applause. My apologies to anyone I have missed.
I won’t try to summarize all the pieces in the book, but here is a flavor of what one might expect:
The title of Tepic Harlequin’s “Hunt Reversed” is apt, as the story is one in which the hunters become the hunted. “Test Flight,” by Joseph Gatch, is a humorous piece about the trials of inventors - and their hapless assistants. “Elements of Revenge: A Trio of Travelers Tale,” by Travis I. Sivart, is a straight-ahead adventure story - except that nothing in New Babbage is straightforward. Emerson Lighthouse has two pieces in the book, and the longer of the two, “The Great Race,” is a wonderfully comic story of racing, danger, and one-upmanship. A.E. Cleanslate gives us “The Expedition,” which explores the mysteries of the air kraken (and which I hope is merely the first installment of a much longer work, as I was left by the end wanting to know more). Other stories are no less worthy of the reader’s attention. I’ll confess to having a story in there as well, inspired by Erin Morgenstern’s novel The Night Circus.
If New Babbage is indeed a “consensual hallucination of a Victorian-era steampunk city in a time that never was,” as the back cover proclaims, then it’s a mighty satisfying one. And if, one day, that consensual hallucination disappears forever, I will be glad to have these memoirs of that time that never was.