Hot & Steamy: Tales of Steampunk Romance, the new anthology from Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg, hits digital and analog bookshelves today. It features stories from Donald J. Bingle, Maurice Broaddus, Tobias S. Buckell, Mary Louise Eklund, C.J. Henderson, Vicki Johnson-Steger, Dean Leggett, Jody Lynn Nye, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Michael A. Stackpole, Stephen D. Sullivan, Marc Tassin, Robert E. Vardeman, Elizabeth A. Vaughan, and C.A. Verstraete, plus one from me.
Despite the basic theme running through the anthology, the tales vary in particulars as much as their authors. My tale “In the Belly of the Behemoth,” pits the slaves on a Georgia plantation in the midst of the American Civil War against their mad-scientist master and his steampunk battle machine. Here’s a short sample:
Dusky charged toward the house, but before she got a hundred feet from Obadiah, she heard a shot ring out. She froze in her tracks and turned toward the barn. What she saw there made her scream.
Dr. Tucker stood there on his one good leg and his prosthetic one, dressed in his grime-streaked work clothes, which he’d had shortened on one side to prevent the fabric from catching in his fake limb. He had pushed his tinted goggles—the ones he always wore when welding his contraptions together—back on his head, toward his mane of graying hair, and he blinked out at the world with ice-cold eyes unused to being so exposed to the evening sun. He held a smoking gun in his hand, and it pointed toward Obadiah. He ignored Dusky, not sparing her a first glance much less a second.
“Put that filthy Yankee down, boy.” Dr. Tucker strode toward Obadiah, who had not moved a single one of his bulging muscles. As he walked, the servomotors in the brassy replacement Dr. Tucker had built for his left leg whirred and clicked in sequence.
Whirr-click. Whirr-click. Whirr-click.
“I said, put him down.” Dr. Tucker never raised his voice. He let his gun do all his shouting for him.
Be sure to track it down and pick it up.