Oh how I love the cover of this anthology from Cleis, edited by D.L. King. The absolutely ridiculous goggles with little puffs of steam and a leather strap across one eye piece and the short leather top offering a glimpse of breast: a total turn-on cover.
I confess, although the words "Steam Punk" make me want to devote my life to writing in the genre, I didn't actually understand what the genre was. A good way to find out is to read an anthology on the topic, featuring many of my favourite authors. That anthology, Carnal Machines, Steam Punk erotica, is the one.
Steam Punk involves a "What if . . . " scenario. A fellow named Babbage actually created the plans for a steam powered computer, but the computer was never built. Apparently the Victorian era just wasn't all that interested in steam powered machines.
The first complete Babbage Engine was completed in London in 2002, 153 years after it was designed. Difference Engine No. 2, built faithfully to the original drawings, consists of 8,000 parts, weighs five tons, and measures 11 feet long. (Wikipedia.)
Steam Punk stories are based in Victorian times so the language is wonderfully correct and everyone has servants. All the women wear corsets and most of the men have moustaches. However, unlike true Victorian times, in Steam Punk stories there is great interest in steam powered machines. In this antho, the machines are carnal by nature.
Consequently the vast majority of stories feature steam powered dildos. All the authors do a terrific job of capturing the language of the times. The first story, "Human Powered" by Teresa Noelle Roberts, is delightfully imaginative and as much a love story as a story of lust.Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Carnal Machines-popping my steampunk cherryJuly 5 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Carnal Machines-edited by DL King (review by Beth)Steampunk is gaining a lot of visibility lately. It's a hot genre right now and seems to be popping up in a lot of places, as both book releases and calls for submissions. I have to admit a bit of ignorance on this front though because I have never read nor written any Steampunk. I think one of the main reasons for that is because I rarely, if ever, write straight m/f pairings, and though the idea of combining Victorian technology with somewhat contemporary settings, a dash of sci-fi flare and scalding hot sex intrigues me, most of what I have seen is strictly in the male/female realm or lacks any real spice and alternative lifestyle content. So up until now I have bypassed the Steampunk phenomenon completely. Not anymore though.
When I saw the release info for Carnal Machines I knew I'd find at least one or two stories that would tantalize my kinky taste buds. DL King is known for putting together high quality anthologies and her willingness to include alternative pairings and content is one of the reasons I follow her work. I wasn't disappointed. So join me on my virgin journey into the world of Steampunk and a book filled with diversity in every way imaginable.
As with most anthologies some stories will really grab you and others may not. I'm going to highlight just a bit of each story and then urge you to pick up the book and find your own favorites.
The first story in the book really caught my attention. Human Powered, by Teresa Noelle Roberts. I love a strong female character that knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go after it. It's a storyline we don't normally see in m/f stories, but Teresa definitely delivered it in this one. I laughed out loud at some of the one liners in this piece. Teresa has a wonderful sense of humor and isn't afraid to use it to get her character's points across. Her main female character Claire is witty and strong-willed and determined to make her invention a success. She isn't afraid to ask for help but she definitely isn't the type to stand back and let a man take over either. The sex in the end is hotter than hell too. DL King picked a perfect story to kick things off. If the wedding package the two scientific geniuses plan to create ever becomes available in real life I will be first in line at the justice of the peace just to get one.
In The Servant Question, Janine Ashbless gives us a wonderfully sordid tale of a inventor who is willing to do anything to please his clients in order to achieve higher social status. He gets quite a surprise when he answers a desperate plea for help and discovers what type of chores his tireless housemaid is really being used for.
Renee Michaels presents, Sleight of Hand. A criminal reuniting of two wayward scientists in love and in lust.
For the Femdom enthusiasts we get Poe Von Page's, Mutiny on the Danika Blue.
For those of us with decidedly kinkier tastes Kannan Feng gives us a wicked little tale of bisexuality and voyeurism in Deviant Devices.
Jay Lawrence shows us that The Perfect Girl isn't always so perfect.
The medical fetishists among us will thoroughly enjoy Delilah Devlin's, Dr. Mullaley's Cure. If visiting the doctor was that enjoyable none of us would complain about the bills. I also find virgin stories especially delightful and Delilah's Nurse Percy is an adorable mix of curious and naive mixed together.
The surprising, somewhat trans slant Lisabet Sarai entertains us with in, Her Own Devices, was definitely a highlight of the book.
As always Kathleen Bradean delivers high quality smut and some kick ass female domination in Lair of the Red Countess. I'm not normally a femdom fan but this one got me hot and bothered.
The Infernal Machine by Elias A. St. James captured my attention from the beginning with the sexual innuendo of the opening paragraph. It is also the only m/m story in the book and i love well written gay erotica. If one sexy man is good then two together is most definitely better!
Doctor Watson Makes a House Call for Essemoh Teepee and this time Sherlock Holmes is neither wanted nor needed. Dr. Watson performs just fine on his own.
The Treatment by DL King is a naughty little story of two gentlemen and their tea time encounter with the domineering Miss Li. Electrical engineering takes on a whole new meaning. Now I know how i want to light up my own house. Screw the electric company.
Lucifer Einstein and the Curious Case of the Carnal Contraption by Tracey Shellito is a title reminiscent of a Nancy Drew mystery only, to my knowledge, Nancy never went in search of suddenly appearing sex toys. The interviews Luci and her partner engage in are both entertaining and arousing and laced with an underlying humor only a great author can pull off. Every morning I check my front porch in hopes of receiving my own mystery package.
The final tale in the book is Elizabeth Schechter's, The Succubus. A wonderful way to end an action packed anthology full of carnal delight. The combination of Victorian debauchery with a decidedly BDSM slant topped things off nicely. ^_^
For steampunk fans both new and old this is one book you should add to your TBR pile asap.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Steam Heat!May 30 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
The gleam of brass, the fragrant warmth of leather, the hiss of steam. "Carnal Machines," a new anthology of steam-punk erotica edited by D.L. King, offers many delights in the genre, along with some surprises. The stories in this collection delve beneath the staid Victorian manners and binding corsets that are a staple of the genre to explore machinery that is bent on pleasure with scientific fervor.
A sense of mystery pervades many of these stories. A robot in hiding in women's clothing, a woman disguised in men's attire, a scientist who prefers to observe his subjects from a distance, a complicated machine whose mechanism waits to be discovered. I really enjoyed following the dual levels of the story: both as a mystery and as an arousing experience. There are many different discoveries here, as well as a variety of pairings to suit any taste. The stories are hot enough to make the reader squirm; I discovered that I needed to read it in private, rather than out by the pool.
The fine storytelling of Lisabet Sarai ("Her Own Devices") and Kathleen Bradean ("Lair of the Red Countess") are always a delight. I find myself falling into the details of the story and wanting it to continue. The final piece, "The Succubus" by Elizabeth Schechter, puts the whole concept in the perspective of the machine, which is very compelling.
D.L. King has put together yet another fine collection, one that continues to engage the reader and arouse on many levels. I enjoyed savoring each of the stories.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Stoke the Steam for SexApril 21 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Wow, "Carnal Machines'" cover is so seductive! People always say you can't judge a book by its cover, and I agree. But when the cover is supremely awesome, it can make you want to pick up the book. And I certainly did--I was drawn right in.
I have no background with steampunk, and in fact, I apparently had no idea what that meant. I have never seen an actual steampunk machine (to my knowledge) so I learned a lot from this anthology. The book takes you to the Victorian era with its mixed-message prudery and sexual focus and exploration. The idea of a steam-powered sex machine is intriguing, especially to someone who grew up in the era of solar-powered vibrators.
I have always been fascinated with the idea of the treatment of so-called female hysteria, and this collection delves deeply. Corsets, vapors, chemises, and endless skirts area featured in various settings, such as the home of an adventurer and brothel owner in Lisabet Sarai's excellent "Her Own Devices," which features a pleasant surprise ending and plenty of mechanized devices. Another adventurer's club promises sexual delights and machinery in Kathleen Bradean's "Lair of the Red Countess."
A trip back in time, this collection isn't for everyone, but those who do plumb its depths will be rewarded with D.L. King's well-edited selections. There are flying machines, sex machines, and famed people in erotic situations, all with puffs of sexy steam.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
As good as it looksMarch 10 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
In this anthology there are two stories that include smart, sexy Chinese women, and I like it for that reason alone. There are 14 stories altogether, which is quite a generous number. It's surprising, then, that they are of a consistently high quality. I did skip one of the stories, I must admit, and I suppose if I were being a conscientious reviewer I'd say which one it was, but it was no big deal, I just didn't like it. It's an anthology. It's okay to skip around.
Talking of skipping around, I first saw this as a paperback in a bookshop in Charing Cross Road, (London, England) and I nearly bought it but I was with a male friend and I didn't want him to feel threatened by my interest in sex machines.
So I bought a Kindle version. I really wish I'd bought the paperback. An anthology like this shows up the weaknesses of the Kindle. I kept wanting to flick through and dip in and out and I really couldn't.
The only author I'd heard of before I bought the book was Janine Ashbless. All the others were not only new to me but have really strange names like Elias A. St. James, Essemoh Teepee and Blue Poe Von Page. Unfortunately the Kindle version doesn't give the author's name with the story title in the table of contents, so this made it really hard to get familiar with their names and remember who had written what. To make matters worse, the author biographies at the back are in a different order from the stories and don't give the story titles.
I had to write my own table of contents in the end, which is really geeky, isn't it? But I suppose someone who can do that would also appreciate a steam-powered anal probe, so you could say this book and I were made for each other.
Like my review, this book should not be taken too seriously. But as a piece of fun, it's really very stylish indeed. I was pleasantly impressed by the imagination and the craftsmanship that went into the stories. One story impressed me particularly. It was Lair of the Red Countess by Kathleen Bradean. The writing has a sensuous surface texture and shadowy depths that really got my attention. It isn't perfect. It is a bit rough in places. But I like its roughness and I like the deft narrative shifts that delve into the backgrounds of both main characters and flesh them out for us. It's quite a complex little story for all its playfulness, and there is a lot of flesh, as it were, packed into a very tight space.
But the other stories are also very well done and the theme of Carnal Machines is carried through them all with admirable panache. Now that I have my little home-made table of contents, I will definitely use it to look up some of the other writers on my list.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Who knew Steampunk could be so sexy?Nov. 18 2013
Terrance Aldon Shaw
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
What if H.G. Wells, Jules Verne or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had been free to write the kind of erotica reflective of their own technologically-obsessed times? If the insatiable scientific curiosity of the Victorian era could have been focused on the myriad questions surrounding human sexuality, what strange and wonderful inventions might well have been wrought? In “Carnal Machines”, editor D.L. King has dared to ask “what if”, and in so doing, has raised another fascinating question; who knew steampunk could be so sexy?
“Carnal Machines” has everything I look for in outstanding erotica; rich atmospheric settings, interesting, intelligent characters, well-crafted storylines, and the playful but always cerebrally surprising use of language. These stories also make for a ripping good time. (Or would that be bodice-ripping good time?) There’s not a single clinker in the lot of fourteen, a credit to King and the dazzling cadre of talent she brings together for this anthology. Having once entered this oddly ahistorical world of clockwork marital aids, tireless sex-slave automatons, steam-powered pleasuring machines, and generators powered by pleasure itself, readers may never want to leave.
The consistent high quality of these stories is truly impressive. They have a way of lingering in the reader’s mind, bright sparks of pleasant memory. It’s difficult to cite only a few as standouts. (But, of course, I’m going to anyway, implying no offense to the other authors). The opening story, “Human Powered” by Teresa Noel Roberts, sets the tone perfectly in terms of language and mood. I was mesmerized by the darkly seductive atmosphere of “Her Own Devices” by Lisabet Sarai, set in Victorian-era Hong Kong. “Infernal Machine” by Elias A. St. James offers a refreshing same-sex take on the broader themes of the collection, and Elizabeth Schechter’s “The Succubus” rings down the curtain with just the right hints of sexual intrigue, mystery and menace.