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2022: The Year in Books and Comics

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Continuing our look back at 2022, these were the year’s major developments in steampunk books and comics.

The biggest news involved a title released in 2021, as P. Djèlí Clark’s A Master of Djinn won the 2022 Nebula Award for Best Novel from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). It thus became the first steampunk work ever to win the prestigious award in the novel category.

The Nebula was one of several honors for Clark’s opus, which also won the 2022 Locus Award for Best First Novel as well as the 2022 Compton Crook Award. The latter is presented by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, recognizing the year’s best first novel in the English language. The book was also a Best Novel finalist in the 2022 World Fantasy and Hugo awards.

But 2022 also saw its share of notable releases, including a new trilogy from Shelley Adina and R.E. Scott, a Parasol Protectorate compendium from Gail Carriger, and the final entry in George Mann’s Newbury & Hobbes series.

And though it wasn’t categorized as steampunk, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s re-imagining of The Island of Doctor Moreau received prominent notice in mainstream outlets, including placement on Time’s list as one of “The 100 Must-Read Books of 2022.”

“Prinnypunk” from Adina and Scott

Shelley Adina, creator of the Magnificent Devices and Mysterious Devices series, teamed up with historical romance author Regina (R.E.) Scott for a trilogy entitled The Regent’s Devices. The books are set in the same alternate-history timeline as Adina’s other steampunk works, but decades earlier in 1819.

Adina described the new collaboration as “Prinnypunk,” a reference to George Augustus Frederick, the Prince Regent who later became King of Great Britain and Ireland.

The three novels – The Emperor’s Aeronaut, The Prince’s Pilot, and The Lady’s Triumph – tell the story of young inventors Loveday Penhale and Celeste Blanchard at a time when Napoleon is seeking to conquer the world with steam-powered weapons.

We discussed the new books in a Q&A with the authors published back in May. They also revealed their literary inspirations and historical research techniques.

Adina published the books through her own Moonshell Books imprint. You can find links to booksellers on her website.

Final Investigation for Newbury & Hobbes

George Mann brought his popular mystery series Newbury & Hobbes to a close with the sixth volume, entitled The Albion Initiative. The series features the investigations of special agents Sir Maurice Newbury and Veronica Hobbes in an alternate-history Victorian England. In the finale, they find themselves working against a tyrannical Queen Victoria as they try to install a new ruler on the throne.

The publisher’s website includes an excerpt and links to booksellers.

Advice from Lord Akeldama

Gail Carriger didn’t offer any new stories in her Parasolverse, but she did release Dear Lord Akeldama & Parasolverse Ephemera, an e-book that she described as “a compendium of extras and appendices” for fans of her steampunk works. It includes vampire advice columns, deleted scenes, and what she characterized as “silly steampunk philosophical treatises.”

The contents previously appeared on her blog or in interviews, but here it’s compiled, copy-edited, and “formatted nicely.” The e-book is available directly from the author via the Gumroad e-commerce platform.

Carriger also released a trade paperback edition of Ambush or Adore, the third volume in her Delightfully Deadly series.

Learn more on her website.

New Cherie Priest Collection

Subterranean Press released Holy Terror, the debut fiction collection by Cherie Priest. The limited-edition, 528-page hardcover volume contains two tales in Priest’s Clockwork Century universe: The novella Clementine and the short story “Reluctance,” along with The Wreck of the Mary Byrd, a novella set in 1870, and a new exclusive novelette, “Talking in Circles.”

In total, the book features 14 stories and one poem. Each story is accompanied by notes from the author.

Priest’s Clockwork Century novels, including the Hugo- and Nebula-nominated Boneshaker, are considered milestones in steampunk fiction.

The book was released in a limited edition of 1000 signed copies, originally for $45. The publisher is now offering “dinged” versions that were returned from distributors. They’re being sold as-is for $10 each plus shipping.

Learn more on the publisher’s website.

Ghost Stories from Leanna Renee Hieber

Leanna Renee Hieber is best known to steampunk fans for historical fantasies such as The Spectral City and The Eterna Files, but she’s also a ghost tour guide, and she called on that experience in her first non-fiction book, A Haunted History of Invisible Women: True Stories of America’s Ghosts.

The book, co-authored with her fellow ghost tour guide Andrea Janes, provides historical context to ghost stories about women, including Sarah Winchester of Winchester Mystery House fame, steamboat pilot Mary Becker Greene, and Bridget Bishop, the first person executed for witchcraft during the 1692 witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts.

The authors aimed to examine how the women’s surroundings, personalities, and circumstances “might affect how we think about them in the afterlife, and how their lives affected their ghost stories,” Hieber explained.

She discussed the book in a lengthy Q&A posted in our YouTube channel.

See the publisher’s website for more info and links to booksellers.

Revisiting Doctor Moreau

In The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, Silvia Moreno-Garcia used the classic sci-fi tale “as a launching pad,” she wrote, “probing the connections with race and colonialism inherent in H.G. Wells’ fiction, as well as its literary and film cousins.”

The novel moves the setting to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in the 19th century, where young Carlota Moreau lives with her mad scientist father and his human-animal hybrids.

In addition to making Time’s “Must Read” list, the novel was named by The New York Times as one of “100 Notable Books of 2022.”

See the publisher’s website for links to booksellers.

Other Releases

Book covers

Caffeine Nights Books released the second and third volumes in The Periwinkle Perspective, a series by Paul Eccentric about a Victorian-era space captain. In The Periwinkle Perspective: Those Among Us, Gordon Periwinkle embarks on a secret mission to the Moon while scientists go missing in Europe. Also: Queen Victoria needs a new pair of legs, and it’s possible “that not everyone on Earth is entirely who they claim to be.”

Eccentric followed that with The Periwinkle Perspective: The Story Untold, which takes place in 1898 as Germany and Great Britain are on the brink of war. Meanwhile, Queen Victoria welcomes Martian immigrants while Periwinkle and Professor Hamble Blaise travel to the Red Planet in search of a fabled scientist.

More info: Publisher’s website

The Dragonfly Delivery Company is the sequel to Keith Dickinson’s 2020 steampunk murder mystery Dexter & Sinister: Detecting Agents. The series follows the exploits of John Sinister, a disheveled private detective, and his mechanical cat sidekick Dexter. This time, they’ve joined an airship crew in hopes of foiling a band of thieving sky pirates.

More info: Amazon

The Copper Chevalier is a sequel to Emily Owen’s 2020 steampunk novel The Mechanical Maestro. Set in 1857 London, it continues the story of sibling android-builders George and Douglas Abernathy, along with their genius botanist sister Molly.

Owen simultaneously released Concerto for Three Cities, a novella that focuses on the original story’s clockwork music composer.

More info: Author’s website

Professor Flockmocker: The Misadventures of a Victorian ‘Scientist,’ purports to be the writings of 19th century inventor Professor Phineas Jupiter Flockmocker III. The book relates the Professor’s brilliant but little-known feats such as his eight-foot-tall mechanical Steam Man and his quest for the largest source of cheese known to humankind, which happened to be on the Moon.

Through the miracle of time travel, the Professor is now known for his appearances at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair and the Clockwork Alchemy steampunk convention.

More info: Amazon

Falcon’s Favor is Book 4 in Dana Fraedrich’s Broken Gears series. She describes it as a “queer, cozy mystery romance,” set in “an alt-steampunk world full of charming criminals, food cravings, and whimsy.”

More info: Booksellers | Author’s website

Iron Paws and the Tinker’s Forged Marriage is the second entry in Juli D. Revezzo’s Gears, Cogs, and Puppy Dogs steampunk romance series. Book 1 introduced alchemist and inventor Vesta Bartlett, who takes on the task of creating clockwork puppies after an epidemic has wiped out Britain’s dog population. In Book 2, she’s invited to bring her creations to the Texas Republic, but finds herself contending with an anti-alchemist group.

More info: Author’s website

The Aether Chronicles digital box set collects all five books in Abi Barden’s Aether Chronicles series. The author describes it as “steampunk urban fantasy with a dash of magic and hint of romance.” The books take place in an alternate 1875 London where technology is driven by aether gas.

Abi Barden is the steampunk pseudonym of UK author Gail B. Williams, who also writes crime fiction.

More info: Goodreads | Author’s website.

Runs Like Clockwork is an anthology from Wyldblood Press with 13 steampunk tales by authors including Rose Strickman, K.G. Anderson, David Castlewitz, Rhonda Eikamp, and others.

More info: Publisher’s website

The Clockwork Solution from eSpec Books, is the sequel to Michelle D. Sonnier’s The Clockwork Witch. Set in an alt-history England, the series tells the story of Arabella Leyden, who is descended from a family of gifted witches. But instead of practicing traditional magic, she’s the first-ever technomancer, with an ability to manipulate mechanical contraptions.

More info: Publisher’s website | Goodreads

Engineerium is the second book in Ruxandra Tarca’s trilogy The Cerulean Airship. It tells the continuing story of engineer Jasper Kendall Asher and aeronaut Ivy Blackwell, who face new challenges and a powerful rival as they attempt to complete work on their airship.

More info: Booksellers | Author’s website.

The Complete, Slightly Abridged, Journals of Thaddeaus Shockpocket, by Henry L. Walton, is a collection of children’s stories about the family of Thaddeaus Shockpocket, a turn-of-the-century inventor and explorer. It combines two previous volumes of Shockpocket tales with several new stories. The new edition is printed in a larger format with the 14-point OpenDyslexic font.

More info: Amazon | Author’s website.

Leopard Ascending is the third volume in Emma Jane Holloway’s Hellion House series. The books are set “in a world of monsters and mages, dashing aeronauts and Society balls,” she writes, and this one tells the story of an air captain’s daughter who is investigating her sister’s murder.

More info: Author’s website

Full Steam Ahead is a fiction collection for kids. It consists of five adventure stories by Lori Alden Holuta set in “a Victorian-ish, steampunky country called Industralia,” she explains. “Three stories were previously published individually, one was written for International Octopus Day, and the final story is a brand-new adventure that can only be read in this collection.”

More info: Author’s website

Euphonia Klank and the Aether Beast is a steampunk-themed picture book for children ages 4 to 7. The title character “is a little girl who is taking her steampunk world by storm,” explains author Tamara Alba, a schoolteacher in the Pacific Northwest. “She’s smart, kind, and adventurous, but she gets into trouble when she accidentally releases an Aether Beast to run amok.”

More info: Amazon | Author’s website

Rise of the Catalyst, by Honor Raconteur, is a steampunk fantasy set in an alt-history, 1907 America. The story involves a visually impaired expert in magical artifacts who must return a mysterious, powerful semi-sentient mask to its place of origin.

More info: Author’s website

Crowdfunded Titles

The following books were successfully crowdfunded in 2021 or 2022 and are now available to the public:

Spirit Machine is a limited-edition anthology of steampunk and science fiction stories with themes related to spiritualism. Publisher Air and Nothingness Press successfully funded the book on Kickstarter.

More info: Publisher’s website

Bodacious Creed and the San Francisco Syndicate is the third and final novel in Jonathan Fesmire’s steampunk zombie western series.

More info: Author’s website

The Keeper is a spinoff of Dianne Gardner’s Sword of Cho Nisi fantasy series. The story takes place on the island of Cho Nisi in the kingdom of Prasa Potama, where steampunk invaders arrive to steal the island’s magic.

More info: Bookseller links | Author’s website

Color the Multiverse is a coloring book featuring artwork from Bonsart Bokel’s steampunk series, The Association of Ishtar. He successfully funded the book on Kickstarter.

More info: Creator’s website

The Victorian Collection: Advanced Costuming Techniques features costume designs by Laura Meyer. It includes 15 of her Victorian/steampunk designs along with descriptions, historical references, and info on advanced costuming techniques. She successfully crowdfunded the book in 2021.

More info: Etsy page

Comics and Graphic Novels

Here’s a look at notable graphic novels and comics released in 2022. All were successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter.

Lady Mechanika: The Monster of The Ministry of Hell is Vol. 7 in the popular graphic novel series about a Victorian-era paranormal investigator with mechanical limbs. Originally published in four issues, the story takes the protagonist back to her origins in a Victorian asylum.

This was the first new Lady Mechanika series to be published by Image Comics, which acquired publishing rights from creator Joe Benitez in 2021. Benitez, along with writer/editor M.M. Chen, remains the primary creative force behind the series. Benitez crowdfunded the first issue in 2021.

More info: Image Comics website

Heirs of Isildur: The Perilous Prospects is the latest installment in the Heirs of Isildur graphic novel series from Insymmetry Creations. The new story takes place after a lab explosion creates pandemonium and conflict in the puritanical steampunk village of Shadow’s Haven.

Creators Matt Knowles and Steph Cannon released the first issue in May and plan to ship the second next month.

More info: Publisher’s website.

Aldous Spark and the Feast of the Unspoiled is the second in a four-volume series of graphic novels by Peter Miriani. The title character is a Vaudeville magician and inventor in the late 19th century who moonlights as “an anarchic social bandit and foe of tyranny” along the lines of Robin Hood.

More info: Publisher’s website

Last Ride of the 4 Horsemen: Conquest is a four-issue follow-up to Last Ride of the 4 Horsemen, a steampunk western based on the Biblical tale of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Flatline Comics, an imprint of Inverse Press, released the second issue in the series after a successful Kickstarter campaign.

More info: Publisher’s website

Boston Metaphysical Society - Vol. 2 is a trade paperback containing four previously published stories in Madeleine Holly-Rosing’s series about paranormal investigators in an alternate history 19th-century America. It also includes a new 10-page story entitled “The Meeting.”

More info: Creator’s website

Hopeless, Maine Book Two: Inheritance is the second entry in the popular graphic novel series by Tom and Nimue Brown. It continues the story of Salamandra, a young orphan with magical powers on a mysterious island off the coast of Maine.

The book was originally released in 2013 but is now available in a new redesigned edition from Outland Entertainment, which acquired publishing rights in 2020.

Tom Brown discussed the graphic novels in the first episode of The World of Steampunk.

More info: Publisher’s website

More year in review coverage: The Year in Pictures | Board Games and RPGs | Kickstarters | Movies and TV | Music | Video Games

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