The Steampunk Megapack Review
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This book is only $.99 on Amazon, but it’s not worth half that much. There’s really only one new story here: the first one. It’s not a bad story, except it’s not a story. It’s a vignette—a description without the interplay of plot. And, for that matter, the story was written by one of the two editors of this volume. The other stories can be found free from Project Gutenberg because this is basically a collection of old books cobbled together.

There are 26 stories here, including four novels. Of these, only four are truly steampunk stories. “The Case of the Peculiar Safecracker” is a so-so lot of conventions that are already tired. As soon as you have the mysterious hole in the safe, you’ll think you’ve read it before—and you probably have.

“The Brass Goggle Factory Worker” is a load of turn-of-last-century socialist propaganda without any characterization other than prejudices: universally evil corporations and people working for them, befuddled and exploited religious believers, and people who find a way to game the system who are “free.”

“The Impossible Mister Lapin Investigates the Affair of the Terrible Boar” is the best offer in the whole book. There are references to other literature (Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories, in this case) and a genuinely interesting investigation. There’s a statue of a boar that comes to life and wrecks things—I like to see that.

But one story is a thin high point. And in what way is A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court steampunk? That story takes up about 14% of the space in the collection, and it’s far from Twain’s best work.

As a whole, these old stories sound old. They use old writing styles, which come off as turgid to the modern reader. Lovecraft, this anthology reminds me, survives for his ideas—not his writing skills.

But then there are stories like “The Machine Stops.” The technology in that story is far beyond anything in the steampunk genre, including the ones with magical technology. It is, in fact, one of those ‘70s stories where things fall apart because writers were so relevant and socially aware.

If you’re genuinely looking for steampunk, though, you won’t find much here. You’ll find better in the free titles that you can get at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

This collection is padded out, tired, and hackneyed—and, above all else, it doesn’t have a steampunk feel. I have to say that I disrecommend this book to the point that I would probably disrecommend any other megapack book in this series. In fact, I would probably disrecommend any title ever published in this series in the near or distant future. When you’re not as good as the stuff given away for free, you’re useless.

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