Miniturised mechanical technology develops, with sapphire as the crucial material playing the role of "silicon" in contemporary technology. This leads to a project to build a rail link from London to India. The story itself plays out at a remote location on the railway in the Middle East. An explosives depot, with sophisticated automated defences. Protagonist starts to worry as the dump grows larger and larger - hubristic engineering project? Administrative error?
Chekov's armoury leads us to believe that the depot will be detonated - but by whom, why, and with what effect?
Today I read:
to which I think the response has to be, yes: steampunk is linked to the Empire, and yes, it ignores the dark side of that time. However, I'm going to defend it on escapist grounds, and argue that this applies a lot more widely, to historical fiction in general as well as quite a lot of classics. People should be able to guiltlessly enjoy escapist fiction. This probably needs more unpacking, but that's for another time.