Cogwheels: Ten Tales of Steampunk

Normally, I don't read a lot of steampunk novels. For those of you that aren't sure what "steampunk" is, steampunk is a fictionalized world where steam-powered machinery exists in 19th century civilization. The Time Machine by HG Wells is an example of steampunk fiction.

Cogwheels is a collection of steampunk stories written by a variety of authors. While the title tells us that there are 10 stories, there are actually 12. (Supposedly, the editor's cat required the inclusion of two additional stories with a cat theme.) But, to be honest, if I didn't read the foreword, I wouldn't have known that there were extra stories. I didn't actually count the titles myself. 

Most of the stories involved are fairly short. The one exception is The Clockwork Monk, which actually has chapters. Considering the number of stories involved, I was quite surprised at the variety of plots in the collection. Not one was like another.

My favorite stories were The Clockwork Monk (I'd actually like to read more about this world and its characters) and Midnight Visitors (one of the cat stories). I found the characters to be well-thought-out and very intriguing, even the inner monologue of the cat. But the best part is that the entire world they live in absolutely came to life. The steampunk aspect made their universe interesting and colorful. These two stories may have just made me a fan of the genre.

On the other hand, I was not particularly fond of The Touch of Love (a little too abusive, in my opinion) or Lace, Lavender Salts, and Revenants (for the same reason). Both of these stories revolved around the pain and abuse of other people. While Love featured the abusive love between a human and an automaton, Lace followed this theme by beginning with a rape and moving into murder. If these were longer stories that had ample reason behind the acts, I might not have minded so much. Unfortunately, in short form, everyone seems to be an ass for no real reason.

I think fans of steampunk may not be the best audience for this book. They already know where to go for the really good stories. However, if you are new to the genre and would like to know a bit more, this is a very good place to start. Thankfully, each story ends with a mini-biography on the author so you will know how to find more stories by your favorite. All in all, a worthwhile read.

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