In 1986 K. W. Jeter coined the term “steampunk,” applying it
to his first Victorian-era science fiction alternate-history adventure. At last
he has returned with Fiendish Schemes,
a tale of George Dower, son of the inventor of Infernal Devices, who has been
in new self-imposed exile, accumulating debts.
The world Dower left when he went into hiding was
significantly simpler than the new, steam-powered Victorian London, a mad whirl
of civilization filled with gadgets and gears in the least expected places.
After accepting congratulations for his late father’s grandest invention—a
walking, steam-powered lighthouse—Dower is enticed by the prospect of financial
gain into a web of intrigue with ominously mysterious players who have
nefarious plans of which he can only guess.
If he can locate and make his father’s Vox Universalis work
as it was intended, his future, he is promised, is assured. But his efforts are
confounded by the strange Vicar Stonebrake, who promises him aid, but the vicar
is more interested in converting sentient whales to Christianity—and making
money—than in helping George. Drugged, arrested, and interrogated by men,
women, and the steam-powered prime minister, Dower is trapped in a maelstrom of
secrets, corruption, and schemes that threaten to drown him in the chaos of
this mad new world
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