This anthology paid homage to the very real obsession with all things Egyptian in the steam-era. I was given a copy in exchange for an honest review of Egyptian Steampunk crossover stories, but I would have happily paid the price to enjoy this wide range of stories. Because this is an anthology, I can’t give you a quick and decisive synopsis of the entire volume. Instead, I’d like to share a few highlights from the collection that stood out to me. (I received this book in exchange for an honest review)
The Curious Case of the Werewolf that Wasn’t, the Mummy that Was and the Cat in the Jar
The first story is by Steampunk veteran, Gail Carriger. As a fan of the Parasol Protectorate series, I loved learning a little bit more about the father of the main character, Alexia Tarabotti, and his dealings with the comings and goings of werewolves and vampires as they are played out in Egypt.
The Angel of Khan El-Khalili
P. Djeli Clark’s contribution is the rare second-person POV story that really worked for me. The titular angel is anything but pure and good, and extracts a particularly interesting form of payment for its services.
The Lights of Dendera
Tiffany Trent created a very cool story involving interdimensional travel and every Steampunk’s favorite inventor, Nikola Tesla.
To Kill a God
M. J. Lyons wrote a surreal and haunting tale where you can’t be sure what is real and what is in the character’s mind. The prose had a gaslight feel that I really loved.
What Didn’t Work
A few of the stories either fell flat. Worthless Remains by Jonathan Gagen did everything I thought it would, and not in a positive way. Though I enjoy George Mann’s prose, his The Word of Menamhotep felt like the inciting incident in a novel rather than a standalone tale. The same went for Rod Duncan’s The Museum of Unlikely Survivors which had a great premise but ended too soon. The most surprising was the editor’s own story, Antonia and Cleopatra, which had a wonderful foundation for a story but several distracting mistakes (including referring to someone by the wrong name). It’s an ironic trap editors fall into sometimes. It felt like this one didn’t have someone else look over their work.
What I Thought of Clockwork Cairo Overall
As a collection, I thought this was a really great mix and balance of styles. Even the stories I didn’t love, I certainly didn’t hate. This is a strong addition to any Steampunk fan’s library, especially if they are looking for a little something different but still part of the genre. The $21 price tag may feel a little steep, but it won’t disappoint.