Gothic Fantasy Science Fiction Short Stories book review: Introduction
You may remember that I ran a competition a couple of years ago. It was won by an aspiring author by the name of Nemma Wollenfang. Her story, the steampunk themed gothic short Clockwork Evangeline, followed the short life of a automaton maid and her creator. It’s a beautifully written story and since then Nemma has been in regular contact to keep me up to date on her success.
One such achievement is being included in a book of short science fiction stories which has been printed by Flame Tree Publishing. The book contains 35 different stories and features some well known names, such as Mark Twain (Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven) and Jules Verne (The Day of the American Journalist in 2889).
Gothic Fantasy Science Fiction Short Stories is available from Flame Tree Publishing for a lower price of £18. You can get a copy here: Buy the book from the publisher
Gothic Fantasy Science Fiction Short Stories book review: Overview
When I heard the news, I knew that I had to take a look at the book and Nemma was kind enough to send me a copy. It’s quite a large volume of 479 pages including the foreword and biographies of the authors.
There are some very interesting and curious stories involved in this book. Indeed, we are first presented with a story titled Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott. It’s a tale about a two dimensional plane of existence and one inhabitant’s encounter with a cube.
The Disintegration Machine is a pleasant novel by Arthur Conan Doyle that follows the exploits of his character Professor Challenger and his journalist friend Malone who are invited to have a demonstration of a new “Disintegration Machine” which – it turns out – is a Victorian era version of the transporter that we see on episodes of Star Trek.
It’s interesting to see these short stories from well known authors of the past. Take, for example, Jules Verne’s story The Day of the American Journalist in 2889 which is set a thousand years ahead of when it was written. As a slight digression, this story was actually written by Michael Verne – Jules’ son – with his father modifying it and subsequently publishing it under his name. The opening paragraph describes how they envisioned life to be a millennia away. Inventions such as flying cars and buses, thousand feet high buildings and city populations of 10 million. Thousand feet high buildings already exist, although there are only seventeen at the moment in the world. It strikes me as interesting that in 900 years, every building could be a thousand feet tall. There are also 35 cities in the world with a population of over 10 million and as the human race gets larger, this number will grow. This is true Victorian Science Fiction. Victorian era science fiction writers envisioning what the world will be like in the future. This is the foundation of steampunk, but it’s important not to class it as steampunk.
For a good steampunk story, look no further than Clockwork Evangeline. It’s the story that closes the book and follows a day in the life of Evangeline. She’s a prototype automaton who assists an aged dress maker. One day she gets an offer to dance by a handsome customer and the rest… well, you’ll have to read it.
Gothic Fantasy Science Fiction Short Stories book review: Conclusion
Because of the sheer calibre of the authors, each story within the book is exceptionally well written. There’s no clear spelling or grammatical errors and paragraphs flow with ease from one to another.
Many of the authors in the pages are independent. But their standard of writing easily stands up against the other well known authors.
This isn’t a steampunk book and it doesn’t present itself to be. However, there’s at least one. There’s also some stories from great Victorian era writers who laid the inspirational ideas for the initial steampunk literary movement.
It’s a large book and priced at around £20 it seems pretty good value for money. Although maybe it’s a tad on the high side. It’s a well made book and would look good on a book shelf or left on a coffee table as a talking point. This is in part thanks to the intriguing artwork on the cover which is based on artwork by Slava Gerj and Gabor Ruzkai.
If you enjoy reading short stories either for their mystery or if you only have short pockets of time to sit down and read, then this will keep you occupied for at least 35 of those moments. That looks to be worth the price.