I think I've mentioned this before, but I'm something of a steampunk neophyte. I've seen bits and pieces here and there, read a few books and short stories, and admired some cool fashions. But I suspect that this is one speculative fiction sub-genre I'll never really get all that into. That's not a judgment on the idea as a whole. It's just not for me.
In spite of that, though, I really enjoyed Steve Rzasa's latest book, Crosswind. This is the tale of the Sark brothers, inhabitants of a town called Perch. Perch sounds like a frontier town, a sort of alternate version of a Wild West metropolis, where aeroplanes are the order of the day and the inhabitants aren't too keen on their neighbors to the south, the city of Trestleway. Trestleway is all about the railroad, you see. More than that, they want everyone to be a stop on their lines, whether they want to be or not. Winch Sark is a newspaper reporter, while his brother, Cope, is a daredevil pilot. Neither are all that political, but when the Mayor-General's nephew crashes while bearing an important message to his uncle, Winch and Cope investigate. This pulls them into a winding intrigue between Perch and Trestleway, but more than that, because dark forces are at work to not only destroy Perch, but the faithful who live within its borders.
Like I said, while steampunk isn't my thing, I really enjoyed this story. The setting is vibrant and alive, and Steve did a great job of creating what felt like an "old world," one with its own unique history and geography. The best part is, he doesn't slather on loads of unnecessary backstory. Instead, he just teases us with a little bit of, "Hey, there's more to this than meets the eye." In short, it tantalizes instead of bogs down, which is great. Winch and Cope are fun to go on an adventure with, and I particularly liked Winch's spiritual journey. There's a great deal to be gleaned from this book about the interaction between faith and fear, and I really found it fascinating how Steve set the theology in the days of the early church. The Christ event analogue for this world occurred just a decade earlier.
I don't know what a hardcore steampunk fan would make of this book, but I enjoyed it, and I suspect that if you're like me, you will too. Be sure to check it out today.