Jess Nevins' introductory essay has introduced (ha!) me to the 19th century Edisonade genre, which apparently required authors to include "and His Steam Man of the Plains" in every title. I find myself intrigued by this genre and wanting to seek out some examples. I'm betting they still exist out there somewhere. In fact, I'd be surprised if someone hasn't collected these proto-steampunk tales into a book given the popularity of the genre they inspired. The introduction also offered a nice little history of how the Edisonades were inspired by the works of Jules Verne, and then themselves morphed into Lost City stories, and how science fiction eventually came back to the ideas of the Edisonades, but with stories that countered them ideologically in steampunk's first wave in the 80s and early 90s. The essay sets the stage nicely for a first dip into steampunk as a genre.
The first piece of fiction is an excerpt from Michael Moorcock's The Warlord of the Air, featuring a fiery airship battle. To this I can only respond, "Squee!"
"The God Clown is Near," Jay Lake - *** I've much preferred other Jay Lake stories I've read. This one felt like a fragment, and I was never really grounded in the world or what was going on. I'm intrigued by the idea of the Dark Towns -- hidden in the blank spaces in our world -- but a little annoyed that I apparently have to have read other stories in that world to understand this one. Lake gets points from me for sheer style, though. His writing is dark and surreal and a bit glam.