Ganymede is the fourth book set in Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century setting: an alternate 19th century America where the Civil War has stretched into the decades and history has taken a turn to the fantastic. I’ve become a big fan of steampunk, so her tales of airships and sky pirates strike a chord for me. I’m also a fan of handsome books, and Tor has done a wonderful job with these, Jon Foster covers and sepia tone print inside combine to make these trade paper originals a perfect choice.
This story opens with Josephine Early, a madame in Texas-occupied New Orleans with Union sentiments and a half-brother who leads a group of partisans in the bayou. Josephine has a problem: the Ganymede, a Confederate submarine that she’s hiding in the swamp and wants to sell to the Union. Luckily an old flame from her past, Andan Cly, might be the right man to pilot the sumbarine out the Gulf of Mexico and a waiting Union Admiral.
This turns out to be the opportunity that Andan is looking for to make a good score and go legit, so he and his crew of misfits head down to New Orleans to take the job. Unfortunately things take a turn for the complicated when the local Texan in charge of the occupation gets eaten by zombies. Oh, did I forget to mention that these books are full of zombies. They are. Now we have Confederates, their Texan allies, the Union, pirates, and zombies. That is some gumbo!
I can’t recommend these books enough. Cherie writes beautiful prose and her characters are quirky and well-fleshed without falling into unnecessary stereotypes or anachronisms. The technology is a bit far-fetched and the zombies are of-course fantastic, but it makes for feisty adventures and two-fisted action. Cherie’s Clockwork Century novels are definitely the cream of the current glut of steampunk books out there.
Do yourself a favor and read it.