Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for The Steampunk Trilogy by Paul DiFilippo. Fantasy.
This was a massively weird book. It’s three novellas. The first, which succeeded in grossing me out in a nonchalant manner where Coin Locker Babies tried so hard and failed, deals with the replacement of the young Queen Victoria with a look-alike newt-creature of voracious sexual appetite, while a search for the real, runaway Queen is undertaken. The second, also rather prone to nonchalant grossness, follows an outrageously racist scientist as he helps track down a stolen, um, pickled pudendum with magical powers. (I am not joking.) I do have to wonder what was going through DiFilippo’s head when he wrote them: not because they are bad, but because they are so confidently what they are that you have to wonder. The third story puts me in a difficulty, because I liked it very much, and would like to recommend it if it were not shoehorned into one volume with the first two bits of bizarrity. It covers the meeting of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, their burgeoning romance, and their involvement in the scientific-mediumistic expedition setting out from Amherst to the land of the dead. Still high weirdness value, but Emily is so wonderfully Dickinsonian and Walt is so vivaciously Whitmanian that I can’t help but love it.
Have kept contacts between V. and her ministers to a minimum. Let it be known that the Queen’s ‘neuralgia’ prevents her taking much interest in matters of state. All ceremonial duties are indefinitely postponed. Don’t believe anyone suspects the imposture yet, tho’ V. did eat an insect in public. I talked coolly right over the general consternation. The Ladies of the Chamber are hardest to put off. Many are spies of Conroy and others. Have told them the Queen is experiencing an unusually difficult and prolonged menstrual period, and has armed herself with a pistol and threatened to shoot anyone who sees her naked, water-bloated form. The Ladies seem one and all to comprehend. Yet how long can I believably prolong this…?
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