As its title no doubt tells you, Beyond the Cogs: A Steampunk Anthology (which I’ll simply refer to as Beyond the Cogs) from here on out is a collection of steampunk stories. Instead of an anthology collecting many short stories, instead, throughout it’s 254 pages in paperback (or an estimated 198 swipes on an eReader) Beyond the Cogs collects three novella-length stories.
By only collecting three stories, each one has a greater bearing on the final product. If one of these stories flops, it results in bringing the entire product down. Thankfully, this is not the case in the slightest. Each of the three stories has its own unique hook, and each of them is written in a completely different style.
This approach leads to a lack of continuity between them, but it hardly matters. The Soulless Ones, written by C. Vonzale Lewis, The Rogue of Vanguard by Nicholas J. Evans, and Gossamer & Thorns by Elle Beaumont, are each captivating in their own right. Together, they form a wonderful collection.
Each of the tales in Beyond the Cogs is thoroughly enjoyable. A great deal of care has evidently been taken by each of these authors to present their stories, bringing these worlds to life. They are all brilliantly written, and each of their styles works incredibly well. The editing throughout is also excellent, helping these stories shine brightly. While I did notice one typo, that’s neither here nor there.
I don’t know if any of these authors have plans to expand these worlds in full-length novels, but each of them has the potential to carry one, or even a series. If you’re a fan of steampunk, or even curious about the setting, this is a great book. Three stories, three genres, all of them unique. There is a lot to love here.
The Soulless Ones
By C. Vonzale Lewis
Beyond the Cogs opens with the longest story of the bunch. Mixing speculative fiction in a post apocalyptic future with a unique take on vampires, it tells the story of a bounty hunter and her robotic sister, as they travel through New Orleans.
While full of steampunk trappings, as you would expect, the highlight of this story is its unique take on vampires. The story builds mystery while exploring this world, and features some wonderful character work.
The prose throughout is strong as the tightly knight plot unfurls. The story makes you feel like you’re in the world, which is packed with character and vibrancy.
The Rogue of Vanguard
By Nicholas J. Evans
The Rogue of Vanguard is the shortest story in the anthology by a wide margin, and also the lightest on plot. Featuring magic orbs as an energy source, which the characters use for generating power and battle, it sets the scene nicely, leading to a brilliant ending.
While I would have appreciated a more broadly defined plot, this would have taken more space than this story allowed, and dare I say, it could have slowed down proceedings, which would have sapped some of the joy from it.
And The Rogue of Vanguard is packed with joy. Its first person narration and prose is nothing short of delightful. While this story introduces us to some wonderful characters, the greatest character, far and away, is the prose. It is incredibly charming, to the point it is a pure joy to read.
Gossamer & Thorns
By Elle Beaumont
The final story in the collection, Gossamer & Thorns is the only one written in the third person, and yet, it is the most personal of the three by a wide margin. It tells the story of an upper class protagonist who is the son of an abusive scientist determined to infuse human souls with machines, in love with a girl of a lower social standing, who also happens to be terminally ill.
This story is tragic from the outset, and while the ending is predictable, it doesn’t matter; the romance throughout this story is affecting. Its disparate parts, including commentary about pharmaceutical companies, come together to form a beautiful whole.
It is tightly written throughout, and all the threads converge wonderfully. While I thoroughly enjoyed all of the stories in Beyond the Cogs, this is the most affecting.
The driver had a bushy beard of blossoming brown coils that wrapped the bottom half of his melon-shaped heat. A small set of bronze-rimmed glasses, with several interchangeable magnifying lenses, sat on a bulbous red nose and rested under bushy brows. His smile was kind, but the chest hair finding new life sprouting from his tunic told me he didn’t care all too much about appearances. While a grin and rosy cheeks may seem a warm welcome, a smile is an accessory worn just as a necklace would be to some people. People like me, for instance.Beyond the Cogs: A Steampunk Anthology, The Rogue of Vanguard
Dragons of a Different Tail: 17 Unique Dragon Stories was provided by BookSirens for the purpose of an honest review.
Beyond the Cogs is available in paperback, hardcover and eBook from retailers, including—but not limited to—Amazon.
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You can follow Elle Beaumont online, via:
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