Tag Archives: The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk

The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk edited by Sean Wallace

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of dieselpunk book cover

Title: The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk
Author: Sean Wallace, Jay Lake, Shannon Page, Carrie Vaughn, Anatoly Belilovsky, E. Catherine Tobler, Jeremiah Tolbert, Brian Trent, Rachel Nussbaum, Trent Hergenrader, Gwynne Garfinkle, Genevieve Valentine, Joseph Ng, A.C. Wise, Kim Lakin-Smith, Nick Mamatas, Costi Gurgu, Tony Pi, Cirilo S. Lemos, Erin M. Hartshorn, Dan Rabarts, Mark Robert Philips, Catherine Schaff-Stump & Laurie Tom
Series: Mammoth Books
In: The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dieselpunk, Science fiction, Short story collections
Dates read: 18th March 2019 – 25th March 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: The gremlins will be inside everything given long enough and they just want out.

Synopsis

21 tales of anarchic diesel mayhem. 88 From multiple Hugo Award-winning editor Sean Wallace, a new, cutting-edge anthology of twenty-one vibrant stories that explore the possibilities of history, while sweeping readers into high-powered, hydrocarbon-fuelled adventures that merge elements of noir, pulp, and the past with the technology of today… and sometimes a dash of the occult.

Journey into an era when engines were huge, fuel was plentiful and cheap, and steel and chrome overlaid the grit and grease of powerful machines!

Includes stories by Erin Hartshorn, Trent Hergenrader, Tony Pi, Catherine Schaff-Stump, E. Catherine Tobler, Jeremiah Tolbert, Laurie Tom, Genevieve Valentine, A. C. Wise and many more.

Thoughts

I’ve recently started to thoroughly enjoy steampunk. But this was my first excursion into Dieselpunk. And what an excellent introduction this proved to be! I was enthralled, mystified and totally sunk into some of the stories in this collection. And although it might not be my favourite collection of short stories… it certainly ranks up there.

I found this collection a lot darker than steampunk collections. There is just something about Dieselpunk that is a little more critical, and a little less optimistic than steampunk. Or at least, that’s how I’m finding it. Not that that was a bad thing, but this was certainly a darker collection than the steampunk collections and novels that have been filling my shelves lately.

As much as I loved these short stories, I did take a long time to read this collection. Mostly because I had to be in a pretty specific mindset to actually read them. There is something a little less approachable and more intense about this genre that I both loved and also found a little hard to factor into my daily reading schedules.

<- The Mammoth Book of Dickensian WhodunnitsRolling Steel: A Pre-Apocalyptic Love Story ->

Image source: Running Press

The Wings The Lungs, The Engine the Heart by Laurie Tom

Overview
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Title: The Wings The Lungs, The Engine The Heart
Author: Laurie Tom
In: The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dieselpunk, Science fiction
Dates read: 25th March 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: Instead Karl and a handful of others were dispatched like jackals along the Western Front, each with a godforsaken contraption to use when a suitable candidate was found.

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Synopsis

They’ve created a brand new way to keep people alive – a Heart in a Box. But when it’s attached to a pilot who was shot down, serious moral, social and ethical questions begin to come to light.

Thoughts

At the start of this story I was a bit “eh” about it. There didn’t seem to be much that seriously was going to draw me in. And I mostly cringed at the whole idea – a heart in a box that could bring the dead back to life. And they chose someone whose heart had been impacted by a bullet… it was a set up for something of a tragedy that I was waiting to find cringe-worthy. It didn’t end up going this way. But at the beginning I did have some reservations.

Yet, after that initial feeling of reservation, I actually found that I really, really enjoyed this short story. The pilot fought to keep his job, yet didn’t really understand the politics. Actually, the whole discussion surrounding politics, PR and the media was kind of fascinating. And probably the most realistic part of this whole collection.

This is a great short story, and a great way to round out The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk. I loved this ending. It was not quite what was expected. There was a bit of a feeling of a conspiracy and it all ended on a very open note. But it worked perfectly.

<- Mountains of GreenThe Mammoth Book of Dracula ->

Image source: Running Press

Mountains of Green by Catherine Schaff-Stump

Overview
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Title: Mountains of Green
Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump
In: The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dieselpunk
Dates read: 23rd March 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: Surely, one of those Hakodate women would want something like this at a good price.

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Synopsis

She’s a thirteen year-old fighting to create her and her little brother a new life at the close of the war. But will she have to give up her morals and parts of her soul so that they can survive?

Thoughts

At the beginning of this story I had a kind of sick feeling in my stomach. As the story unfolded, that feeling grew. And then… the conclusion was reached. And the sick feeling left and I was actually incredibly happy with the way that the story ended. And the karma that was dealt out. There was such a great sense of poetic justice to this story. That I seriously, seriously appreciated.

This short story shone a light on the atrocities committed against the native populations throughout World War II and in the occupation afterwards. More specifically, it focuses on the survivors of Hiroshima and the ways in which they were preyed upon… in the case of this story, preyed upon by literally everyone. It left me with an uncomfortable, guilty feeling. But also made me seriously appreciate the story that I was reading.

There is a great little Dieselpunk twist at the end of this story. One that incorporates a little bit of mythology and magic. A little bit of karma and a lot of better feelings than what the story started with. A great short story, and a pleasant way to break up all of the work that I need to do.

<- Dragonfire is Brighter Than the Ten Thousand StarsThe Wings The Lungs, The Engine The Heart ->

Image source: Running Press

Floodgate by Dan Rabarts

Overview
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Title: Floodgate
Author: Dan Rabarts
In: The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Dieselpunk
Dates read: 10th March 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: But they sowed more than just salt.

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Synopsis

A great little Dieselpunk story.

Thoughts

This was a pretty easy, simple read. I enjoyed it. But I didn’t really felt swept away by the story.

The writing in this short story was great. Which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. Yet, I didn’t find the storyline super engaging. There was something a bit, yes, this is fun, but I’ll forget about it as soon as I turn the final page. Which I effectively did.

As I said, an enjoyable story. But not one that is memorable, and not one that I am desperate to read again and again.

<- Blood and GoldDragonfire is Brighter than the Ten Thousand Stars ->

Image source: Running Press

Dragonfire is Brighter than the Ten Thousand Stars by Mark Robert Philips

Overview
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Title: Dragonfire is Brighter than the Ten Thousand Stars
Author: Mark Robert Philips
In: The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: DieselpunkRomance
Dates read: 21st March 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: Song had made me go over border procedure again and again, memorizing each typescript that had been inside the hemp folder.

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Synopsis

The love of his life betrayed him years ago. But, when she need him the most, he’s more than willing to risk his life to save her. And finally uncover the truth behind her betrayal.

Thoughts

This was a ridiculously sweet and surprisingly cute short story. It’s towards the end of the The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk collection. Most of the stories in this collection are a little more rough around the edges. And whilst this story is about betrayal and revolution and riots and spies… it’s also about love and I found that aspect to be incredibly sweet.

This is a slightly longer short story and one that I found incredibly hard to put down. It’s also quite hard to forget. Something about the storyline, the writing and the emotions throughout completely enthralled me and made it very difficult to forget and stop thinking about. There is just something so sweet, yet tragic about a man getting caught and forced to find his ex. The woman who he was betrayed by. Yet, there is still a sense of hope and care all throughout, even when conspiracies and suspicions are running rampant.

The ending of this short story seriously left me in my happy place. It has that riding off into the sunset feeling. But it also has a lot more closure than many of the short stories that I’ve been reading lately. The combination worked well for me and left me feeling like there was a sense of completion to the story.

<- FloodgateMountains of Green ->

Image source: Running Press

Blood and Gold by Erin M. Hartshorn

Overview
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Title: Blood and Gold
Author: Erin M. Hartshorn
In: The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: DieselpunkDragons
Dates read: 8th March 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: The other dragons had come too close that time.

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Synopsis

He’s a dragon who is looking for a new place to make his own. When he finds what he’s looking for… he will reign down blood and gold.

Thoughts

I really liked the use of a dragon in a Dieselpunk story. It was certainly different and unexpected. The imagery of him curled around the skeleton of the Chrysler building (even though I don’t know what the Chrysler building looks like) were kind of brilliant and poignant. And it gave this very industrial, turn of the century feel to the storyline. There was just something great and unique about this.

At first, I felt like the dragon would be somehow beneficent and a bit of a protector of the city. There seemed something about him that kind of screamed justice. And then I continued onwards with the story. And realised that that wasn’t really the case. He was just greedy and finding a way to gain the blood and gold that he needed.

Although I prefer my dragon stories to be about the powers, might and just simply placing the dragon on the “right” side of the argument, I kind of liked that this wasn’t about that. Sure, the power and might were there. But it was more about that traditional image of a dragon – one that wants power, might and gold. And really doesn’t give a damn about us measely little humans. It was nice to go back to something a little more traditional…

<- Act of ExterminationFloodgate ->

Image source: Running Press

Act of Extermination by Cirilo S. Lemos

Overview
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Title: Act of Extermination
Author: Cirilo S. Lemos
In: The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Dieselpunk
Dates read: 4th March 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: He obeyed.

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Synopsis

Assassins in a dieselpunk world. Father and son. A network of conspiracies that will have you intrigued.

Thoughts

I loved the break up throughout this story. The way it was structured and how it was almost a series of small stories which created the bigger one. It was a nice, easy read late at night between other, more intense stories.

However, I didn’t really get thoroughly into the storyline. It was good, I enjoyed reading it. But I kind of skimmed through most of the story. It was well written, fun and broken up in a beautiful manner. But it was also not one that could entirely grasp my attention.

Actually, even writing this review, I’m not entirely sure what it was about this story that I did enjoy. Or what I didn’t. It was just kind of mediocre and not overly enthralling. But it also wasn’t badly written. It just was. A nice way to spend ten, twenty minutes… but that was about the extent of it.

<- CosmoboticaBlood and Gold ->

Image source: Running Press

Cosmobotica by Costi Gurgu & Tony Pi

Overview
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Title: Cosmobotica
Author: Costi Gurgu & Tony Pi
In: The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Dieselpunk, Space
Dates read: 21st February 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: He heard a click, then over a clear frequency, the voice of Razvan Ilie, his machinist.

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Synopsis

The moon landing is in jeopardy and the robots can’t fix it. How will the day be saved?

Thoughts

This short story was kind of reminiscent of Illuminae. Or at least, that’s how I found it. Space ships. Mysterious forces taking over. Robots. It was a fun little adventure. One that was just enough to give me a break in the middle of my studies.

I loved the fact that the lead man was a bit of an older one. One who thought that the battle would be won by the young. I loved that it didn’t end up that way.

This was an easy, short little read. There isn’t a great amount to say about it, because although it was fun, it also wasn’t earthy-shatteringly interesting or engaging. It was just… simple. Exactly the kind of story you need when you’re seriously stressed out.

<- We Never SleepAct of Extermination ->

Image source: Running Press

We Never Sleep by Nick Mamatas

Overview
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Title: We Never Sleep
Author: Nick Mamatas
In: The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Dieselpunk, Writing
Dates read: 12th February 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: He got up the next morning, went to the offices of the Pinkerton Detective Agency and offered his services – he was bilingual, knew the neighborhood and all the families, had a quick jab, and hated Reds, and thought the rebbe was a fool.

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Synopsis

The pulp writer just wants to write a good story. One that isn’t boring and actually has meaning.

Thoughts

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. It’s not something I lend a lot of time to at the moment, but it is something which draws me. Constantly. So reading a story that had snippets of attempts at writing throughout. Reading a story which was all about the pursuit of writing something amazing… it definitely drew me in and tugged at some familiar little heart strings.

Although this was about writing, it was also very symbolic about capitalism and the way it overtakes our soul. Or at least, that’s what I felt about it. Every moment felt like it was about being consumed by the machine. Consumed by that need to always do more, be better… incredibly symbolic and powerful if I may say so myself.

There is so much powerful symbolism throughout this story. Yet, it is still the process of writing and that experience which I most strongly connected to. There is something about sharing that frustration that drew me in and maybe even made me understand the themes and symbolism interwoven throughout the fragments of work. The need to create something that shares a part of yourself.

<- Black SundayCosmobotica ->

Image source: Running Press

Black Sunday by Kim Lakin-Smith

Overview
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Title: Black Sunday
Author: Kim Lakin-Smith
In: The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dieselpunk
Dates read: 7th February 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: This is about one of ’em Negresses and her pantry of potions in Jos Splitz’s workshop!

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Synopsis

They just want to make a living for themselves. But it’s Black Sunday, and everything is about to go very, very wrong.

Thoughts

This is a really tragic short story. It is worrying and sad. And all about how peoples’ jealous and corruption can twist and corrupt something good. How jealousy can become a horrible curse which brings down a family of good people. Although I do enjoy how the ending makes those people who caused the harm actually feel guilty at the end of it all.

This did feel a little like a love story, a romance in which two people in the middle of nowhere found each other. It didn’t quite read like that though. There are a few moments where it was good. But mostly, it was just really sad and tragic. No happily ever after for this couple…

The mining theme and machinery in this story created a perfect backdrop for the tale. There is something so beautifully intriguing and rustic about it. Something that I didn’t want to stop picturing in my mind’s eye as the story unfolded. It was just beautiful.

<- The Double BlindWe Never Sleep ->

Image source: Running Press