Infernal Devices by K.W. Jeter is the book I was reading last week when I posted about the genre of steam punk. A lot of articles I read about steam punk recently listed this book, written in the 1980's, as one of the definitive books of the genre and credit it with forming the foundation for steam punk. Since I've decided to check the genre out, I decided this would be a good one to start with.
This one was hard not to judge based on its cover. It looks kind of pulpy right? The cover that I read just looked boring (a guy looking at a pocket watch). It's out of print now, but I hope they'll redo the cover if it is ever re-printed because I was totally turned off by it. The book itself, however, was pretty good. It was funny in an Oscar Wilde kind of way, which I really appreciate. The humor also reminded me at times of Young Frankenstein (the Mel Brooks movie). There was some bawdy humor but it was done in a clever way (as opposed to the "haha an old lady said penis" way that I think many newer comedies seem to think hilarious).
The plot was pretty interesting and involves lots of clockwork, a Brown Leather Man, secret societies, the cult of St. Monkfish, and flying machines made out of sheep. If you're only into "realistic" fiction, this isn't the book for you. But if you have a taste for the absurd and you're interested in the steam punk genre, I think this is a good one to try out. The Victorian-era-style writing and the setting stay true to the genre and the story is fun. Give it a try if you're interested in the genre and enjoy writers like Oscar Wilde or Charles Dickens.