Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tom Smith and his Electric Skyship

Steve's awesome, so here's the first 'real review' I've done, and it's on his book, and not his octopus mud-wresting league. His call, whatever. Anyway, here we go!


Tom Smith and His Electric Skyship


Steve Fahnestalk

1908, alternate history steampunk adventure. When Tom happened into my hands, I had very little idea what to expect beyond that, but it turned out to be a fun romp, perfectly suitable for the upper-elementary crowd, but also enjoyable to this jaded 30-something.

The foreword mentions a lot of fact-checking had been done, and it shows. Period technology and customs were used well, plus the added twist. Combustion engines never really became popular, leaving electric motors for streetcars, and air travel was still dominated by dirigibles and similar craft.

The differences are explained well enough that one can easily envision the workings of these vehicles, but did not get so meticulous that it bogged down the story. In a couple spots, there are mentions of future Tom Smith adventures, which can be taken as 'forced', or 'fun', depending on your perspective. I could almost hear a 1930's announcer voice at these moments.

It is a short book, but in its span, the protagonist Jack tells of meeting his fellow-inventor friend Tom Smith, air battles against Baron Von Ausländer (A.K.A. “Baron Von Whatever”), adapting and improving their skyship, and resolving the kidnapping of President Roosevelt. An unintended detour for Jack would seem to set some groundwork for a future book, and I find myself wanting to see how certain characters re-appear.

The ending capped off with a grand climax that is a bit tongue-in-cheek in a way that is probably best appreciated (or for that matter, noticed) by my fellow nerds. All in all, Skyship is a fun little read that I won't soon forget. Get crackin' on that next Tom Smith book, Steve!

Steve Fahnestalk's blog is at

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