[rating:3.5]
Author: B.J. Keaton and Austin King
Series:
Nimbus #1
Genre: Steampunk
Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 110
Published: May 1st 2012
Source: Personal Copy (eBook)
Amazon (UK/US), Goodreads

First Sentence

Jude felt someone shaking him.

Blurb

NIMBUS: A STEAMPUNK NOVEL (PART ONE) is the first volume of a serialized steampunk fantasy novel that started as an experiment and came out of the authors’ desire to do something new and interesting with ebook technology, while also dealing with a wide variety of narrative goodies–from airships to demon possession.

The story of NIMBUS: A STEAMPUNK NOVEL follows Jude Finley, a new recruit aboard the Gangly Dirigible, an airship that extracts water from rainclouds. Having only lived above the Skyline for a year, Jude is still getting used to the way things work in the world above the clouds. While working aboard the airship, Jude and his friends uncover a secret which may or may not help them against a growing uprising that could spell doom for everyone on the planet.

Meanwhile, Demetrius Rucca, wheelchair-bound son of a prominent religious leader, begins recruiting followers for his own subversive cause. As allegiances are sworn to him and his followers grow, he begins to discover the new powers that lie within him. This power could be the salvation Demetrius is looking for–or it could be the destruction of the known world.

 Thoughts

I’ve never read anything which could even be remotely classed as being, ‘Steampunk’ before. I know some people go crazy for the aesthetic and idea of the whole thing, but it was never really for me.

I don’t mean to say I hated the genre, I just wasn’t in any particular rush to go try it out. Ditto for anything indie or self-published for that matter. I didn’t have any first hand experience upon which to carry anything quite so heavy as hatred, again, just not in any particular rush to test the waters myself.

Several stars came into alignment to make Nimbus my first read within both realms, Steampunk and self-publishing. For one thing, this is a Steampunk and Fantasy cross-over genre-mashing thinger. And that sounded far too intriguing to pass up. Secondly, each part of Nimbus is roughly novella length. I needed something novella length to see me with sanity intact through the span of time between Mistborn Group Read sections.

Finally — and in the interests of full disclosure — B.J. Keeton (aka @professorbeej) is someone I have followed for a while and interacted with in the past. We’ve never met in real life, and I wouldn’t constitute us as bestest of buds or anything of the kind, but nonetheless an acquaintance I have great respect for. It was his advice which finally tipped me toward buying a Kindle instead of any of my other eReader options!

So I offered to review his (and Austin King’s) work after seeing it published on Amazon. It didn’t even occur to me at first that I mightn’t like it and thus put myself in an awkward situation. That worry came later. Then I started to wonder if I’d need to create a new online identity, because man, drama.

When I started reading, I discovered I needn’t have worried.

It’s important to note that Nimbus is being serialised into 4 parts, which will ultimately constitute a full novel length work. Keeton and King’s backgrounds in TV culture seem to shine through, as by the end of Part 1 I felt like I had just done the reading equivalent of watching to the end of a pilot episode.

It introduced the critical elements to the story early and slowly revealed more through the course of the ‘show’, bringing in more elements of intrigue,  answers questions which in turn simply reveal yet more questions. To end, it caps off on a high note leaving you really hankering after the next episode.

That is essentially what the experience of reading Nimbus (Part One) was like!

I teeter back and forth between thinking the first sections dragged a wee bit in terms of pacing. On the one hand, despite there being interesting elements introduced early — such as Hosing and the fog that consumes flesh below the Skyline — it wasn’t until nearer the midway point that I saw any edge-of-my-seat content. On the other, as a proportion of the whole story? This is actually slightly less than one quarter. And there was edge-of-my-seat stuff already.

The quality of copy-editing in Nimbus (Part One) is also most excellent. I had heard some absolute horror stories of other self-published works mistaking their/there/they’re, getting the wrong homophone, being riddled with typos… None of that here, I was never once jolted out for reasons a good ol’ copy-editing session could fix.

However, there is the very rare occasion where a turn of phrase seems to break its ankle rather than dance. “Fritz talked with the wide-eyed enthusiasm of an elderly man in a borderline coma,” particularly stood out to me. What is this saying? It seems a bit contradictory even.

Rare issues like that aside, I enjoyed my time with Nimbus and eagerly await the release of the next parts. I really need to find out how Jude and Rucca fair after happenings so far, and see the almost inevitable moment that their paths collide! This part really did feel like a pilot episode to me, replete with not-quite-but-almost-sort-of-cliff-hanger ending.

Ultimately, Nimbus worked for me. The fantastic elements of the story fit like a glove into the steampunk aesthetics. The world constructed is interesting and certainly no run of the mill Victorian-era Earth. I want Part Two, I want to be able to continue this story.

You can pick-up Nimbus (Part One) yourself from Amazon provided you have a Kindle, although B.J. and Austin hope to have the story available on the Nook store and perhaps others in the near future. Or! You can read Part One for free on B.J. Keeton’s Blog, as they’re releasing it chapter by chapter each week!

Be on the look out for the interview I’ll be posting with B.J. Keeton and Austin King shortly! There will be a giveaway! 🙂