Sunday, June 29, 2014

Superhero Media: The Society of Steam Trilogy

A friend and fellow wargamer gave me a trilogy of books by Andrew P. Mayer, The Falling Machine, Hearts of Smoke and Steam and Power Under Pressure which form The Society of Steam Trilogy. The novels tell the story of Sarah Stanton, daughter of New York Steampunk Superhero, The Industrialist and her battle against Lord Eschaton, a Villain powered by Fortified Smoke.

These books are terrible. They are poorly written, with extended passages that go nowhere and add little to the story, the trilogy could have easily been two or even a single novel with a decent editor behind it. Andrew P. Mayer is a designer of video games by trade, which shows in his lack of understanding of Victorian Society, literary syntax and even Superhero tropes. I'll point out that my education was in Literature, lest I seem to be too harsh, but I have little time for poorly edited books when there's so many good books out there I haven't read yet. 

The characters in The Society of Steam are mostly two-dimensional, the Victorian Woman wants to be treated the same as a man, the villain is an evolutionist, the black man has to hide his race to be taken seriously, however; every person seems to be in such a constant state of flux that there's no point getting attached to a character anyway. Any powers come from Fortified Steam and Fortified Smoke, magical substances that reek more of fantasy than Steampunk or VSF. 

Society of Steam is redeemed by one thing; the Heroes and Villains would make pretty cool VSF Super System Teams. The Industrialist, Anubis, The Sleuth and the Automaton have a legitimate Victorian "feel" to them and Jack Knife and his cronies would be a characterful team for Empire of the Dead.

As a Novel, even a Superhero Novel: 2 out of 10 worth a look for ideas if you're heading down the VSF supers path, but otherwise pretty dull. 

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