Lately I’ve been drawn to reading Steampunk, as the sense of adventure on board a free flying air ship has tremendous appeal. All the gizmos and curious steam inventions just add to the experience, though it seems that writing Steampunk well is challenging.
Nimbus, Part 1, has been an intriguing read. The authors have created a creditable world where people now live either in burrows below ground to escape a life-threatening fog that covers a layer of the planet, or in sky ports that serve as connections for various air ships that travel back and forth, above the fog. The Gangly Dirigible is one such air ship, and our main character, Jude,is a hoser (crew that works hoses on board to suck up moisture vapour from clouds and rainstorms to collect clean drinking water) who works aboard her.
King and Keeton have done a really great job interweaving a second plot line that is about the governing body of the world, the High Prelate, Cornelius Rucca, and his son, Demetrius. There is a great mystery about them as the story begins with a curious scene where Demetrius is saved from certain death by an unknown force. It seems we will not find out what this force is until another book, although we see this force in work through Demetrius in Part 1.
So, the best elements of this story are very good interweaving of two story lines which don’t meet in this part, and an interesting scenario in the death fog and how everyone lives around it. I really enjoyed the scene where the Gangly Dirigible is working through a terrible storm with tornado-style wind forces, even though there is loss.
On the other side is the near complete lack of description of our characters, or the air ship. One feels as though they are in a sort of vacuum not knowing what Jude looks like, or what sort of air ship he works on (aside from wooden decks). I don’t know if this is a deal breaker, but I feel somewhat blind going through the adventure.
For adventure, story line, and world building I would give this four stars. For lack of being able to visualize the characters and world clearly, two stars. If you really love steampunk, this is still worth a read.