Friday, March 9, 2012
Book Bounty: The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives
The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives, by James P. Blaylock, is a deluxe limited edition volume published by Subterranean Press in 2008, collecting the first two novels and four short stories dedicated to the exploits of Langdon St. Ives, the eccentric Victorian scientist and adventurer. Originally selling for $60, it is already difficult to find a copy for less than twice that price. The copy I was able to get my hands on is ex-library and cost a slice under $100.
I have been reading Blaylock since the early 1980's, and greatly enjoyed the two novels, Homunculus and Lord Kelvin's Machine (and the marginally connected The Digging Leviathan) when they were published in the mid-'80's and early '90's. I have since gone out of my way to get hardback copies of Blaylock as and when they become available. This volume is a dream come true for me, including as it does a previously unpublished short story ("The Hole In Space") and beautiful illustrations by J. K. Potter.
These are the novels that arguably began (along with the works of Blaylock's pals Tim Powers and K. W. Jeter) the literary sub-genre of "Steampunk," tales set in a Victorian/Edwardian time period utilizing steam, clockwork, and crackpot science, and following the footsteps of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Steampunk has mutated from a literary movement to a "lifestyle aesthetic," which generally means chunky ladies in bustiers, top hats, and monocles.
Further volumes in the Langdon St. Ives saga include The Ebb Tide, The Affair of the Chalk Cliffs, and the soon-to-be-released The Aylesford Skull. All are published by Subterranean Press and illustrated by J. K. Potter.