November of 2016 saw the release of the steampunk anthology Den of Antiquity, a project it gives me great pride to be associated with. The brainchild of Bryce Raffle, a Canadian author of thrilling tales, it was meant as the joyous celebration of a group of good friends linked by our participation in Scribblers’ Den, a writers’ group in The Steampunk Empire. This was the Den’s second anthology, an event which was becoming a traditional anniversary celebration for the group. Bryce announced an open call for stories, I don’t remember, almost six months ahead of publication, a time frame that even I could meet. The theme was to be a den. Fitting somehow, eh? Well, according to my trusty Funk & Wagnalls, a den can be a private room for relaxation or study, the cave or retreat of a wild animal, or a term for a place, such as a den of thieves. As long as the story worked a den into the narrative, it was a go. There were twelve stories collected for inclusion, and there were happy discussions of what next year’s theme would be. And then four months later, we woke up, and The Steampunk Empire was gone. Not a word of warning, not a hint of trouble, just a click on the shortcut to bring up the screen, and what appeared was not that beautiful Victorian wallpaper, but the dreaded “404” message: “There’s no such thing as what you’re looking for.”
The Steampunk Empire had been a stable home for punks of every stripe for at least a decade, for far longer than I was associated with it, and one day, poof, gone. Twenty thousand members, including some big names in the genre, lost everything, photos, blogs, stories, how-to materials, contact information, everything. I myself lost all but about a dozen of over a hundred contacts, and two sandboxes I had posted for other writers to play in, Port Reprieve and Cape Grief. Cape Grief was just launching, but writers in the world of Port Reprieve lost a score or more of stories.
Okay, that’s my rant for this week. It’s good to get it off my chest yet again and make my position clear, especially to myself. With that done, let’s take a look at this book I’ve been raving about.
The link above will take you to its Amazon page, and it’s a purchase to consider for a multitude of reasons. First, it’s cheap, only $2.99 for the Kindle edition. Second, it’s a collection of shorts by some of steampunk’s up-and-coming lights, bite-size reads ideal for a lunch break or commute. Third, it’s also ideal if you aren’t a steampunk aficionado, but would like to dip your toe in the proverbial water. There are stories here of every ilk, and none of them too outlandish for the new reader. And here’s the little cherry on top: None of the writers are accepting a dime in royalties. Instead, every penny earned is being donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. So for any of those reasons, or one I didn’t think of, take the plunge. You, too, can be a punk. A glance at the table of contents may whet your appetite:
Brass and Coal by Jack Tyler
An Evening at the Marlon Club by Kate Philbrick
Dragon’s Breath by E. C. Jarvis
The Reluctant Vampire by Neale Green
The Complications of Avery Vane by Bryce Raffle
The Jackalope Bandit by David Lee Summers
After the Catastrophe: The Lady of Castle Rock by Steve Moore
When the Tomb Breaks by William J. Jackson
All that Glitters by Karen J. Carlisle
Yggdrasil’s Triumphant Return by Alice E. Keyes
After the Crash by B.A. Sinclair
Links to all the authors websites can be found at the end of their stories, so a few mouse clicks will open up a wealth of information on a group of fine independent authors who offer tales from the cutting edge, with no publishing house prodding them to recapture the Last Big Thing. If you are a steampunk die-hard looking for some voices that you might not yet be familiar with, or a curious newbie wanting to try out the genre, thrilling adventures await at amazon.com.