RogerBW's Blog

Nell Gwynne's On Land and At Sea, Kage Baker 22 March 2019

2012 steampunk SF short novel, very loosely connected with the Company series. The finest brothel in 19th-century Whitehall… goes on holiday to Torquay. At least, that was the plan.

Of course, nothing ever goes smoothly; it soon becomes apparent that another visitor to the town has constructed some form of sub-marine warship (propelled by and armed with steam, of course; this is 1848 after all) and is planning to use it to conduct hostilities against the new French republic. And it seems that all the operatives of the Gentlemen's Speculative Society are off starting or stopping revolutions in Europe…

On the face of it, this is a straightforward story of educated whores using ingenuity and a little advanced technology to deal with a foe. But it is also a pleasing inversion of the standard tale of the heroic lone inventor, who saves the world with his miraculous new vessel; this heroic lone inventor is a bloody nuisance, with no grasp of the ramifications of his proposed actions.

The Transmitter hummed. A warble in the carrier wave grew into a low moaning sound, which was evidently originating with Mr. Felmouth.

While the plot is not comedic, the actions are; where Baker has often excelled is in the deadpan description of the ridiculous, so that the reader can laugh while still holding the characters in sympathy. The plot is perhaps a little thin and readily comprehended, but the joy here is in the writing.

The work was completed after Baker's death by her sister; the style is caught superbly, and I hope Bartholomew writes more in her own name.

Also, bullet-proof corset stays.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

Previous in series: The Women of Nell Gwynne's | Series: The Company

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2022 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1