Publication Date: August 17, 2012
In An Airship Named Desire by Katherine McIntyre, a smuggling job goes wrong, the captain of the Airship Desire takes a job that not only appeals to his pocketbook but his sense of nationalism as he’s told that the contents are essential to his old German homeland — decimated in the last war. The Captain sends his best people — a first mate, Bea and Helmsman, Jenson. Turns out that stealing the box from armed British guards is the easy part. Once back on their Airship, the crew embarks on adventure, intrigue and danger with a box that, if discovered, could inspire a nation to rebel and start a new World War.
I had never read a steampunk novel before An Airship Named Desire. My exposure to steampunk culture had been via the Syfy reality show, Face Off and a wedding program hosted by Tori Spelling where she made the wedding wishes of a steampunk couple come true. In other words, my steampunk exposure would be like comparing McDonald’s to fine dining.
A little research can set a person right. Research tells me that steampunk is its own sub-genre of science fiction. Typically, the stories are set in an alternate past, present or future where steam power has gained mainstream use. I encourage everyone to look up “steampunk” in Google and you’ll find images of very cool mechanical alterations to people and machines.
In the case of An Airship Named Desire, the story is set in the future. The world has suffered a second great war that decimated Germany and forced them to take a much smaller portion of land than that country previously occupied. In the novel, one of the characters refers to his mother having been part of a death march forced on the Germans by Great Britain. The topography and climate seem to have changed as well.
I must admit. I groaned through about the first 5% of this book when Jenson and Bea are escaping the British ship. I thought to myself, “This is going to be one of these balls to the wall, uncompromising, emotionally immature, horribly scarred females — more Terminator than real person.” Bea was all of those things, but as I got to know the reasons behind her being as tough and as emotionally immature as she was, but how willing she was to sacrifice herself for people she saw as innocent, she grew on me. I got invested in this character and as the character developed, so did the storyline.
This is a heavily action-packed storyline. I learned, in my research, that Morlocks are a common character in steampunk fiction. One of my favorite novels is The Time Machine by H.G. Wells which features Morlocks as brutal slavemasters who treat the surface dwelling, Eloi, like cattle. McIntyre’s Morlocks are more evolved and more human than ape but they maintain the cruel spirit of their namesakes.
There were times when I wanted more information about characters but recognized that if they were to open themselves up and spill out their souls, they wouldn’t be as interesting through the rest of the story. We get enough information about everyone to titillate and involve us but we know there’s more to the story.
Another challenge a reader faces is that this novel is not set in a world we know. We may feel that we know the ground over which these characters are traveling, but times have changed and I found, as a reader, that sense a little off-putting at times.
If you like science fiction, tough characters and constant, edge-of-your-seat action, An Airship Named Desire is the novel for you.
Read an excerpt and buy An Airship Named Desire by Katherine McIntyre on