Review: Make: Bluetooth: Mobile Phone, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi Projects with Ble

Make: Bluetooth: Mobile Phone, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi Projects with BleMake: Bluetooth: Mobile Phone, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi Projects with Ble by Alasdair Allan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The book was fine. The projects in here didn’t draw me in as much as some of the other Make electronic books I’ve recently read. I think it’s because most of them were a bit less useful in my house given the need to satisfy the wife aesthetically.

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Review: Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, #2)

Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, #2)Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I typically read 1-3 fiction books at once (depends on whether I’m caught up on my podcasts and listening to an audiobook), going back and forth between books I already own (say from Humble Bundle or Story Bundle) and books I have to buy. I don’t usually have to worry about getting confused about the plots or anything because the books are pretty different. Somehow, this time I ended up reading two supernatural detective books at the same time – this one and Dan Shambles #5. Not only that, but both books had cases involving multiple types of werewolves. The only deleterious effect is that I kept forgetting that Dresden is in Chicago instead of New Orleans.

Generally, it’s a bit hard to talk about a detective novel without spoiling anything so this’ll be pretty short. It’s been a bit since I read the first Dresden book so I kept forgetting some of what he we referring to as having happened six months ago, but I overall remembered enough about how the magic worked and how the main characters worked with each other. Butcher does a good job of reminding readers of the important details they need. We evolve each of our characters a bit and you can see that Butcher is charting out the growth arc that Dresden is going to have as well as setting up a big bad that might encompass the whole series. (As in Buffy where each episode more or less stood on its own, but each season told a coherent story as a whole with one Big Bad having been orchestrating all the shenanigans) While I wasn’t able to puzzle out the mystery before Dresden spelled it out, I felt like all the clues were there and Butcher didn’t cheat. I also thought Butcher did a great job of not making Dresden a Marty Stu or anything.

Highly recommended for anyone who likes Urban Fantasy and detective novels – it’s not really necessary to have read the first one to jump in here.

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Review: Working Stiff (Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. #5)

Working Stiff (Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. #5)Working Stiff by Kevin J. Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The world of Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. is a fun world full of dad jokes and groan-worthy puns. The author doesn’t take himself too seriously and so it’s easy to have fun and roll with it rather than end up rolling your eyes at it. This collection of Dan Shamble short stories does a good job of introducing, and then having fun with, the regular cast of characters. If you like your noir/hard-boiled detective novels with a bit of camp, this is for you. Here’s what I thought of each of the stories within:

Stakeout at the Vampire Circus – I was able to figure out the case, but that doesn’t make it a bad detective story. It shows that Anderson wasn’t cheating. Also, it was a pretty fun cast of characters.

Road Kill – this one was quite a bit of fun. Looks like Mr. Anderson has a good time filling out the details of his world

Naughty and Nice – Santa hires Dan Chambeaux to discover who stole his naught/nice list. Sometimes the best way to be subversive with a detective story is to be direct. Not bad.

Locked Room – Dan and his partner are hired to test a room that’s meant to be inescapable by the undead. The solution is a little bit of a cheat, but still plausible.

The Writing on the Wall – Not too hard to figure out the main case. The fun part was trying to figure out how the two fit together.

Role Model – McGoo and Chambeaux attend a Cosplay Convetion where things go awry. I was able to partially solve it ahead of time, but there were a good number of fakeouts. Also learned that within the world of Working Stiff there are Dan Shamble stories similar to the ones I am reading.

Beware of Dog – The culprits were incredibly easy to guess, but still a BIG twist reveal at the end. Very entertaining.

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Review: Morning Star (Red Rising Saga, #3)

Morning Star (Red Rising Saga, #3)Morning Star by Pierce Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This initial Red Rising Trilogy is a little like the original Matrix Trilogy (if you haven’t heard, there’s apparently a fourth in the works). The first one was a triumphant, mostly fun story. At the end, our protagonists haven’t 100% won, but you could imagine it happening. Then the second one just crushed all that hope and made you feel dumb for believing in the narrative of the good guys always winning. Finally, the third entry in the story keeps that crapsack worldview and manages another, less satisfying ending.

There’s a weird tension for me with books. Obviously, there needs to be conflict for most books to work. The stakes need to be real. How often do we complain about characters having plot armor or being Mary/Marty Stus? Thus it’s revolutionary when GRRM (and even crazier with HBO and their promotional material) off Ned Stark. But, at the same time, I read my fiction books for escape. Shoot, even with non-fiction I’ve moved away from certain topics when they just reinforce the fact that you can’t do anything if you’re not wealthy and well-connected. (contemporary EG – wife told me yesterday that a woman who lied about her address to get her kid into a good elementary school is getting 5 years in prison while one of the college pay-of-play criminals is getting a few months) So if a book is giving me a nice give/take between the stakes and hopelessness, I tend to try and read whenever I get the chance. This book STARTS bleak and just rolls downhill from there for a LONG, LONG time.

I think Mr. Brown makes good use of it. Darrow is REALLY brought low to make his rise that much more impressive. But Mr. Brown does some things that just kept me putting off the book because of the crapsack nature of the world. And they all have one thing in common – realism. And, you know what? We probably need more realism in our revolutionary narratives. The version of the American Revolution we learn makes it seem to inevitable. Combine that with tons of pop culture narratives of revolutions where the inevitability of the Good Guys winning is prime and you get people calling for revolution any time the political winds aren’t going their way. The Hunger Games trilogy was one of the leading stories on this new trend of “hey guys, revolutions are messy!” and the Red Rising Hexology (I read the synopsis for the next couple books and it looks like it’s at least going to be 2 trilogies long) seems to carry on this tradition. But yeah, Mr. Brown makes all the characters in this book take off their plot armor. And while it makes for a more realistic and more dramatic book, it’s just too much for me right now. The world is garbage enough in real life right now.

So, I guess there’s two points to a review, right? How did I like this book and should the reader of the review read the book? Well, I liked the book well enough. 3/5 stars on GR according to the hover-tip on the stars is “I liked it”. I thought it was a good resolution to a trilogy’s worth of story – even with the Matrix-like similarities. Am I going to keep going? Oh, hell no! Darrow’s been through enough. In my head-canon, the story ends with this book and he’s got enough pain to last him a lifetime while he enjoys what little happiness the Epilogue gives us.

Should you read it? Well, I think it’d be weird for you to have read 2/3 of a trilogy and then stopped. Then again, I don’t Lem (https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/…) books. I slog through and hope the writer will redeem him or herself. Most of the time they do well enough to at least earn 3/5 stars. But if you thought Mr. Brown was too tough on Darrow of Lykos and friends in book 2, then he is no nicer to them in book 3 – stay away!

Well, this has gone on long enough. Time to move on to some SFF Detective novels.

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Review: Make a Raspberry Pi-Controlled Robot: Building a Rover with Python, Linux, Motors, and Sensors

Make a Raspberry Pi-Controlled Robot: Building a Rover with Python, Linux, Motors, and SensorsMake a Raspberry Pi-Controlled Robot: Building a Rover with Python, Linux, Motors, and Sensors by Wolfram Donat
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Donat does a great job of giving the reader everything they need to know to build a rover (like the Mars rover) out of a Raspberry Pi and some motors and sensors. It’s definitely a project I intend to add to my ever-growing list of hardware hacking projects. This book gives you enough info to get started while also pointing out places where the user could go off and make it their own. Very great balance and I heartily recommend.

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Review: The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, #1)

The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, #1)The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t know if Robert Jordan knew this series was going to be a ton of books, but he clearly knew it was going to be more than one. In a book about the making of Star Wars, the author uncovers that the old rumor that Lucas spread that he started in the middle of the story because it’s more interesting than the beginning is a lie. However, the concept he was falsely trying to get across certainly is true. This book is SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW. The reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 3 is that, like Lord of the Rings, which every high fantasy book written since is in conversation with, the extra slow beginning is important as a contrast for the adventure our protagonists go through.

Like the Hobbits in The Shire, we start off (technically no, but I’ll get to that in a second) with a bunch of village folks that think they’re Top Dogs because they’re not afraid to wander a few miles from their village. The book takes it time (a pretty good number of chapters) to show just how rural they are. They only get news about the outside world when traveling peddlers come to town. Everything revolves around the spring fantasy-Maypole celebration. The town inn is a big deal because it’s the only two-story building in town, etc. Like the villagers, we don’t really know anything of the world beyond. As the story progresses, each town they visit is as awesome to the previous one as to make it seem as small as their village seems to the first town they visit. This culminates in visiting the seat of government which is so remote that everyone remarks (correctly) they doubt our protagonists even know they’re part of that kingdom. Eventually it pays off in a story that I enjoyed the more I learned of the history of the world along with our main characters. So while I started off not knowing why this is such a beloved series, I came to understand a little better by the end. Especially considering a lot of the tropes that are blase now probably started here (more on this later).

Why not 5 stars, then? Because there are still some missteps in execution. The main climax of the story left me bewildered. I wasn’t quite sure what happened or what triggered it. It seemed to be something that could have taken place at any time in the narrative. And while it happened when they finally reached the location-equivalent of a MacGuffin, it didn’t seem that the location had any thing to do with why it happened. So for such a key moment not to make any sense is kind of annoying (to put it mildly).

Other thoughts:
Of all the tropes employed by this story, the most annoying trope: if only the protagonists would talk to each other (be honest), things wouldn’t get worse. Now, there are in-universe reasons why our protagonists don’t trust the non-POV protagonists. (We only get POV chapters for a subset of our main characters). That’s why I don’t dock too much from the story because of it. But it’s a plot trope I really got sick of from Marvel and DC comics (where it’s endemic), so it always annoys me here. Lots of things got worse because characters just wouldn’t share honestly with the other supposed good guys.

Of all the tropes employed by this story, the best trope: despite being a fantasy world, most of our characters have names that aren’t too different from our own, especially when pronounced out loud. Yes! Yes! A thousand times YES! I have such a hard time with fantasy books with names like Galadriel and T’uebadue and stuff like that. I don’t know why, but the further from my experience the name is, the harder time I have remembering who is who and relating to the characters. But while the spelling is a little weird compared to ours, if you’re pronouncing it in your head or listening to an audiobook, these are normal Earth names: Mat, Lan, Moirane (close enough to Maureen), Rand (close enough to Randy), Egwene (close to Edwin), and so on. And when it deviates, like Perrin – that’s not too hard a name. The Dark One is named Sh’aitan which is pretty similar to the way Satan is spelled in some other languages. Also, the characters are sheepherders and blacksmiths and each soup and drink tea. I know it can be fun to really deck out your not-Earth with not-Earth things, but almost everyone hates this trope: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph…

The last thing I want to talk about will have some spoilers for Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive. Mr. Sanderson finished The Wheel of Time series after Robert Jordan died. I’m curious if The Wheel of Time was one of those series that’s SO important in fantasy that it leaked into Stormlight Archive or if these tropes are more widespread and I don’t know about them because I’m not a fantasy person. Here’s what I found in common:
-the Ways reminds me of the gates that lead to the congnitive realm; and some of the dangers of each
-Both involve dreams in which our characters talk to gods – in a very literal sense, not as a dream or metaphorical
-Eye of Time seems like the pool found in Mistborn 1 and may have a similar purpose
-Dark one bound – this is one of those that’s maybe a bit more universal?
-opening is a non-sequitor that makes no sense until the end and takes place hundreds or thousands of years in the past
-the cyclical nature of the battles with the Dark One.

Anyway, Mr. Jordan got me intrigued by the end. I’ll give book 2 a shot.

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Review: Getting Started With Raspberry Pi

Getting Started With Raspberry PiGetting Started With Raspberry Pi by Matt Richardson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a really GREAT book that, more than some of the other books with the same title, is about Getting Started with electronics; the Raspberry Pi, in this case. The author does a REALLY GOOD job explaining the basics of getting started with the Pi, the basics of Linux, and a bunch of ways to use the electronics part of a Raspberry Pi with some fun real world examples. (Controlling a lamp over the net or making a Photobooth that can automatically add mustaches, hats, etc) If I’d had this book back when I bought my Raspberry Pi B (back when that was new), I would have done lots of projects with it by now. Instead, it’s been sitting in my basement. (Now, the new RaspPi 4 is great enough to easily play 1080p vids over the net and I’m loving running Librelec on it)

If I had to give one negative nitpick for the book it’s that this space changes so much. I think the one I read was the 2nd or 3rd revision and there’s already the RaspPi 4 which has so much more capability. This is where sometimes technology sites make more sense than books. But, that said, MOST of what’s in this book remains valid.

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Review: Qt5 Python GUI Programming Cookbook: Building responsive and powerful cross-platform applications with PyQt

Qt5 Python GUI Programming Cookbook: Building responsive and powerful cross-platform applications with PyQtQt5 Python GUI Programming Cookbook: Building responsive and powerful cross-platform applications with PyQt by B.M. Harwani
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On the plus side, this book gave me the knowledge I needed to finally complete a GUI for my Extra Life Donation tracker program (https://github.com/djotaku/ELDonation…). I’d tried many different GUI toolkits and none of them was getting me what I wanted. I wanted to use QT since I love using KDE, but it was just too complicated and free posts on various blogs didn’t quite take me far enough. So for that I’m grateful to this book. There are also future improvements I’ll be able to make to my code thanks to this book.

However, I did have to knock off two stars for two related reasons involving errors. The first one is annoying if you don’t know what you’re doing, but it’s not the end of the world – there are times where he tells you the text to write on a button or a label and it doesn’t match the screenshot in the book. Like the text says to have the button say “Go” and the screenshot says “Click Me”. It’s not a big deal as long as you’re consistent in the code. What is worse is that there are MANY indentation errors here. And Python is a language where indentation matters! It, not curly braces, is what determines when code blocks start and end. So the reader constantly has to be asking themselves if this indentation makes sense and then adapting their code if it gets a runtime error.

I usually don’t come across errors like these in O’Reilly or Starch Press programming books, but on reddit the Pakt books have a bad reputation. Perhaps this is why. So, it’s very useful (especially being the cookbook style book), but reader beware of following the examples blindly.

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Review: Getting Started with Adafruit FLORA: Making Wearables with an Arduino-Compatible Electronics Platform

Getting Started with Adafruit FLORA: Making Wearables with an Arduino-Compatible Electronics PlatformGetting Started with Adafruit FLORA: Making Wearables with an Arduino-Compatible Electronics Platform by Becky Stern
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First of all, lots of kudos for the authors including lots of photos. Many of the other microcontroller books I’ve read from MAKE have had illustrations, but this one actually has photos and that’s very helpful when illustrating sewing.

After reading this I’m inspired to mess around with some wearable tech, but also extremely terrified of screwing something up as someone who’s done little to no sewing. However, I might end up teaming up with my mother-in-law who’s a great seamstress to work on some projects. Just need to decide on a plan of attack first.

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Review: Getting Started with Arduino

Getting Started with ArduinoGetting Started with Arduino by Massimo Banzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Massimo and his co-writer do an excellent job creating an introduction to the Arduino board. I started mucking around with the boards before reading this book because I’d done some projects with Atmel chips in undergrad (a couple decades ago) and I do software programming on the side. But I wish I’d read this book first as it would have saved me time on figuring stuff out on my own that’s unique to Arduino as well as stuff that I’d forgotten in the intervening decades. Programming hardware chips is very different from general purpose programming for a computer or cell phone. Not only are resources on the chip a lot more limited (although, in the case of the Raspberry Pi – getting closer and closer to a regular desktop), but input and output is also more limited. These microcontroller boards are meant for automation projects where you set something up (like a system to water your plants based on whether or not it is going to rain) or limited interactions. They’re running in a never-ending loop and that requires a different mindset.

The best thing about this book, though, is that Massimo has targeted it towards the non-technical. I didn’t find it annoying to read as someone who knows about this stuff, but I feel that he has reached his goal of allowing the non-technical to become hobbyists or even for artists to integrate microcontrollers into their art. For example, the final chapter is a great resource on how to do debugging that even introduced me to some new concepts (again as someone who’s been doing software for the past 20 years instead of hardware). It even has a section on how to ask for help in forums.

If you would like to do something neat with microcontrollers (and if you don’t even know what you could do – visit this site https://hackaday.io/discover and see the cool stuff people are doing! (examples right now include digital thermometers, a NASA-looking control panel for the video game Kerbal Space program, a laser harp, various synthesizers, robots, smart mirrors, a DIY google glass thing, Internet of Things … it goes on and on…. )) – check out this book!

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Review: Love, Fishie

Love, FishieLove, Fishie by Maddy Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Since Maddy Gaiman wrote this when she was 8 and I have a nearly-8 year old who loves to read and write, I figured it’d be a fun book to read together. She enjoyed it even though poetry isn’t her thing. I thought it was pretty neat that Maddy and Neil Gaiman write poems to each other. Overall, it’s a pretty neat collection.

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Review: Double Life (Razia, #1)

Double Life (Razia, #1)Double Life by S. Usher Evans
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I met Ms. Usher Evans at Baltimore Comic-Con a year or two ago and she is a very prolific author. If any particular book of yours isn’t your cup of tea, you can try another – she has magical school YA, fantasy, and SF as well as others. This book is one of her science fiction books.

I like the character Ms. Evans makes with Razia/Lyssa. By changing the context I’m used to, changed the way I look at dual identities in another medium – the superhero story. Her struggles are also quite relevant in the current moment in which MAYBE we might finally be working towards a more equitable work environment for women. Her internal monologue is pretty realistic as are her interactions with others.

I think where the book fell short for me was in the pacing. The book pretty quickly introduces us to Razia/Lyssa’s skills, shortcomings, and challenges. Then spends most of the rest of the book without the stakes rising or falling significantly. There isn’t really a climax to this story, just a couple hills in place of what should be a mountain, figuratively. I don’t know if it’s because it was a planned trilogy or just one of Ms. Evans’ earlier novels, but I just found myself wondering when things would pick up.

I’m not soured on Ms. Evans’ writing; I’d like to check out some of her other series. But I think I’m done with Razia.

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Review: Geekomancy (Ree Reyes, #1)

Geekomancy (Ree Reyes, #1)Geekomancy by Michael R. Underwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

To me, this book is Buffy meets Ready Player One done well. As I discussed in my RPO review, it was just way too overhyped for me vs what it delivered. This one, on the other hand, seemed to come from a more genuine place and fit in better into the story. Also, I love Buffy while dystopias (which I’ve been reading since middle school are starting to really bum me out). Anyway, this isn’t an RPO trash session, let’s get to this book.

Really quickly about my rating in case you’re new to my ratings or forgot – I go by what the mouseover says for each star. 3/5 is “liked it” while 4/5 is “really liked it”. I feel like I’m more in the first camp than the second one. So it’s not a bad book, just about average for me.

While the whole “first slayer” thing in Buffy was kind of neat, I think it eventually suffered from Whedon, et al trying to hard to explain what should have just remained ineffable. Just let this lady be kick-ass because she’s “chosen” somehow and let’s have fun. Geekomancy accomplishes this through the magic system that Underwood has developed. Why does it exist? Who knows! Why is our character special? Doesn’t matter! Instead he just has a magic system that allows him to have good reasons to have random nerd trivia littering the book. It’s also flexible enough to allow an evolving power set for Ree Reyes.

Ree seems to me to be a pretty well written female-bodied geek in her 20s. (‘course, I’m a dude in his 30s…so what do I know? Maybe her behavior, dialogue, etc are horribly silly and unlikely) She seems to have a good amount of conflict about her place in this new world she’s thrust into and what she should do with her powers – reminds me a bit more of Peter Parker’s Spider-Man than Buffy in that respect. But to me it made things more realistic. She isn’t some perfect do-gooder and she wasn’t raised to be a hero. She also has to live in the real world. Again more like Spidey and Buffy than Batman, Superman, or The Fantastic Four – she’s not set for life. The work she does takes a toll on her civilian life and her ability to pay bills, survive, and have friends.

Plot-wise, I don’t know if this is Mr. Underwood’s first book, but if I go by the ads at the back of the book, it’s either his first or second and I think, based on that, his plot is quite mature. While the nature of the narrative does mean there is some plot armor for some characters, every encounter (and the story as a whole) doesn’t tie up everything neatly and perfectly for Ree. There are negatives to everything she does and she ends the book in a relatively realistic place given what happened. There are stakes and I think you feel like some of the side characters are potentially at risk.

Overall, I think you could hand this book to anyone middle school or older. There isn’t any explicit sexual stuff – although there is mention of burlesque shows. And if profanity turns you off or makes it off limits to minors – there’s a fair amount of that – but it’s mostly of the exclamatory type – “(profanity) I hit my toe!”.

I thought about going to the next book and wavered a lot. The reviews seem to mostly be 5/5 or 1/5. And Miss. Robinette-Kowal did the audible version and really enjoyed it. I even put it on my to-read list. But I ended up taking it off. This book was good enough and I enjoyed reading it, but I have SOOOO many books I want to read, including sequels to books I really liked so I removed it.

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Review: The Circlet Treasury of Erotic Steampunk

The Circlet Treasury of Erotic SteampunkThe Circlet Treasury of Erotic Steampunk by J. Blackmore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I’ve said many times before – I’ve been exploring more genres recently instead of locking myself into just one. I don’t remember how this ended up in my To-Read list back in 2014, but it’s definitely different than my usual fare. That said, my preferences for stories in this collection mirrored my preferences in the video world. I’m not a consumer of erotica movies, shows, etc. I don’t find sex entertaining for its own sake. But I do think that sex can be very contributory to a plot. Sometimes it can be a move forward for a character (see the many permutations of that in 1999’s Cruel Intentions) and other times it can just make the plot more true to life (see various movies either about dating – the opening to Train Wreck or the quarter-point of Forgetting Sarah Marshall – or married life) So in this collection I preferred the stories that were good Steampunk stories that happened to have good sex vs the ones that were just the literary equivalent of porn. The highest compliment I could give to any of the stories in this collection was some variation on – “I want to see more in this story’s universe!”

So, as I do when I read an anthology, here’s what I thought of each story (essentially an edited collection of my status updates):

“The Innocent’s Progress” – not really steampunk, but still a good story in the victorians age. A take of the stage and a time of stagnation in stories. Works well and tells a good story.

“Extempore Romance” – A fantasy-ish steampunk where fantastical creatures – called chimera, but don’t seem to be as chimeric as in Greek mythology – serve the roles we might have served by robots in SF. A nonsequitor ending.

“Hysterical Friction” – Anyone who knows anything about the Victorian era “disease” of hysteria could guess what this is about, especially in an erotica collection. But it’s written rather well and cheekily. I wonder if the first gen machines really were bike-powered.

“In the flask” – A lab assistant, and our first male protagonist. I know there’s a long history of women writing slash fic, but I think it’s interesting that this is the first story in this collection so far involving male-male and it’s written by a woman. The previous stories were female-driven and, at least going by pen names, written by men. A straightforward erotia story.

“Steam and Iron” This one is more like an awesome story that also has some very dirty bits to it. I LOVE the intro scenario and the fun the author has with it. Love the conclusion to this story. And it’s got more story to it than some of the other more porn-like erotica thus far in this collection.

“The First Scientifiction Colloquium” – They say writers love to write about writing. So what would be more meta than an erotica short story about an erotica short story writer? what if it took place in a steampunk convention? I actually enjoyed this one quite a bit.

“Caged Dragons” – Started off as a pretty great story in its own right. A typical steampunk/victorian age trope of the inter-class marriage. Had lots of promise, but fizzled both erotically and storywise at the end.

“The Succubus” – straight up erotica, but a fun premise about a brothel with a steam-powered A.I.

“Ars Mechanica” – a good setup with a good payoff. When reading an anthology of this sort, it’s interesting to see the same tropes show up whether it’s M:M, M:F, or F:F.

“Nightingale” – A “pretty woman” scenario with a chimera. I could enoy a murder mystery taking place in this world.

“Clockwork Theatre” – seems like a straightforward porn until the twist at the end.

“Beast in the Machine” – a couple minor twists before it climaxes (pun intended) and has a rather fun ending.

“The Pretty Horsebreaker” – Like the best stories in this collection (IMO) – this one is more like a rated R movie or HBO show than a straight up erotica. A part-time courtesan is hired to try and get a manuscript from a thief; good ending, pretty complex.

“Adventures underground” – toes the line between erotica and story quite well. I’d love to see this world explored in a full length novel or at least a novella.

“The Skydancer” – Takes place after HG Wells’ War of the Worlds in a steampunk world. A fun Adventurer type book, but with a Strong Female vs the typical make for a Victorian Adventurer book. One of the ones I like that’s plot plus sex instead of just erotica. The author has created a fun world playing in HG Wells’ WOTW playground. Would love to read a non-erotica novel or novella in this world

“Skyway Robbery” – a steampunk Robinhood story. Bit of fun. Mostly straight erotica.

“The tinker’s lady” – A world in which progress is illegal and a woman ends up tangling with one of those scientific criminals. Would love to see more in this world.

“The Zeppelin Raider” – The first intersex story. Also, one of the few with a woman accomplished scientist as a prominent side character. In addition to being the first intersex erotica I’ve ever read, it’s also the first one that contained so much slapstick.

“Submission” -unless I missed a pronoun or a clue somewhere, that’s the first time I’ve ever read a short story (erotica, no less) where I had no idea the gender of either of the characters. How neat”

“Coming into the New Age” – Mostly straight erotica, but very well written. Would love to see the consequences of this story explored more.

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