Tell me a story about futuristic worlds, space travel, cybernetics, or magic and I’m all in. This is not an exaggeration. There is something about the level of imagination and creativity necessary to bring a reader into those kinds of stories that hooks me from the first sentence. The stranger the better.
I grew up in a house where Science Fiction and Fantasy books made up ninety percent of the family library. For a long time I thought that those were the only kinds of stories out there. All the what if questions—the quests to map out and understand the unknown—brought stories into new light for me. I love being immersed in speculative worlds.
The Aeronaut’s Windlass
“Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.
“Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.
And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake…”
The Aeronaut’s Windlass is the first book in Jim Butcher’s Cinder Spires series. The story takes place in a world where humans live in large cylindrical arcologies called spires and use vat-grown crystals as a power source for airships and weapons. This is the first steampunk novel I’ve read which doesn’t take place as an alternate past for mankind. There is nothing wrong with those, but it was the futuristic seting which caught my attention. I was drawn in by the world and kept there by the characters—there are even some sassy talking cats mixed in for good measure. Magic, science, and steampunk mix it up quite regularly in this story. I recommend this book for anyone looking for a good speculative tale. It really is the genre mash up I didn’t know I wanted.