While reading 1901: A Steam Odyssey, I pictured author Lionel Bramble chuckling as he wrote it. How could he resist? The story is infused with such glee and charm that an avuncular twinkle had to be lurking in his eyes.
Admittedly, I'm a huge fan of steampunk, so I'm inclined to enjoy the iffy science and fantastic elements. It's rare that I see a book that embraces the surreal feel of early science fiction classics though. Imagine, if you will, Georges Melies version of From the Earth to the Moon (Based on Jules Vernes story) or perhaps the music video that it inspired, Tonight, Tonight by Smashing Pumpkins mated with the penny dreadful of the Victorian age, with a healthy dose of the Perils of Pauline and a smidgeon of A. N. Roquelaure's Sleeping Beauty trilogy, and you might come close to 1901: A Steam Odyssey, but why torture your imagination when you can simply buy this rollicking tale?
But, of course, this is a review of the erotic content, and why you're most likely to pick it up. From the opening scene in which our heroine, Directorate agent Lady Cheyenne Easterling, her lover James Steerforth, Directorate agent Miss Olive Ravenswood, and Major Bernard Lewis have taken a room at the Thunder Child Inn for an evening of fun with sex toys that they don't quite understand. The Martian invasion of earth (in the War of the Worlds) has been quelled successfully, and it's time to relax. At least, it is for the ladies, who delight in using the magnetic cock rings they've slipped onto their gentlemen's cocks to keep the men in a state of unrelieved arousal.
From there on, it's tit for tat, with the men tormenting/pleasuring the ladies as they split up on Directorate orders. Miss Ravenswood and Steerforth head out in search of disappeared Directorate agents in the Antarctic, while Cheyenne and Major Lewis head to Venus. Of course they're captured by the formidable seductress and turncoat Directorate agent, Lady Jane Moonstone, who has allied herself with the Marshies (the Martians)! And oh, the sexual jeopardy they constantly find themselves in! Thank goodness for the British stiff upper lip, and even stiffer cock, that the gentlemen wield with fortitude and honor in the face of every conceivable sexual challenge. Our ladies are no less intrepid in their zeal to do whatever or whoever, it takes to see their mission to a successful end.
I read this story as an ebook on my computer, so I can't say that I couldn't put it down as I never picked it up in the literal sense, but the same sensibility applies. Not only is the premise fresh, but it is superbly executed. There isn't a false step anywhere. Inventive, imaginative, saucy, naughty; 1901: A Steam Odyssey is all that and more. Two thumbs way, way up! (Mr. Bramble, please feel free to write more. Your adoring fan. KB)