We’re returning to weird westerns again as I catch up on some back reviews.
Or, perhaps more accurately, think of this as a collection of steampunk works given they’ve all got the iconic airship.
Review: Airship Stories, David B. Riley, 2015.
Riley adds to the same universe that his Miles O’Malley stories are set in with four stories and an essay, “A Most Baffling Event”, on the Great 1897 Airship in western America.
Two stories involve the U.S. Navy’s first airship, the Wanderer: “Wandering About: The Adventures of the Airship Wanderer” and “The Toy Men”.
In the first, the airship gets involved into Russian incursions in America, both on the ground and in the air. It seems the Russians have been in contact with Martians and hope to use the alliance to get parts of California and all of Alaska back from the United States. Good, genial fun that even the frequent talk about food doesn’t slow down. (And neither does frequent mention of the port wine President Chester Arthur inherited from his successor and is trying to foist of on visitors.) It features Penelope Hudson who shows up in Riley’s The Devil Draws Two.
The second story is shorter, quirkier, and funnier when a rogue State Department decides to launch a real war on Christmas – or, at least, Santa Claus.
“Watch the Sky” got incorporated into The Devil Draws Two so, if curious, you can look up my review of that.
“The Big Green Orb” is a fun story – in fact the first of the O’Malley stories I read and that convinced me to read the rest of the series. While it takes place after The Devil Draws Two, you can read it first. It prominently features Secret Service agent Penelope Hudson and O’Malley. Like “The Toy Men”, it has another rogue U.S. official determined to stir up war and that has to be stopped.