“Steampunk is Dead” is the second book in the Feedback Loop series of books currently available in audiobook format. This book, like the first, is written by Harmon Cooper and the audio narration is performed by Jeff Hays; one of my favorite narrators. If you enjoyed the grit, the grime, and the game of the first book (Feedback Loop), this book is a must read. Simply go get it now and enjoy. If you have not yet listened to the first book, pick it up first as this one continues the journeys of Quantum and his experiences in and around the Feedback Loop. If you enjoy Literary RPG (LitRPG) books, this series stands out in a very crowded space. If you like gaming, role playing, themed fashion and steam-powered machines, you will enjoy this story woven by Cooper and told by Hays. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of the book and start listening right after finishing the first.
Going along with the adventure is most of the fun in this type of book, so I will try not to include any spoilers in this review. Needless to say, Quantum has moved out of the feedback loop which he was previously trapped; in book one. He now faces an even more difficult world, more powerful nemesis, and more lasting relationships. All this culminates into a light-hearted tromp onto a science fiction subgenre involving Steampunk; a world called Steam. I’m not a huge steampunk fan, but I enjoyed all the new experiences, machines, and limitations one faced in this type of world. Steam everywhere, unique weapons, and ultimate flying machines galore. Add to this the quite exclusive clothing comprised of leather everywhere, tight corsets, high heels, googles, and yes; so much steam. This is a different world for our main character and he has to put his trust in others to survive. From start to finish, the book maintains the original cyberpunk feel of the first, but on top of all that there is so much steampunk; which is not a bad thing.
As with the first book, the author does a superb job of weaving in modern humor and puns that those who game clearly get, and others will still find funny. There are also a number of included references or saying from the 80’s and 90s periods often hard to miss. I often found myself laughing out loud at a few of the one-liners, quips, and snarky comments the author threw into the storyline. I will say, I was happy that the author did not abuse or misuse them as some authors have in the genre. I also found it thought-provoking that it was often difficult for Quantum to distinguish the differences between the many virtual worlds from the real world. Things had changed so much while he was trapped in the Feedback Loop that the physical world, with all of its advancements, became so much like one of the many virtual ones. Did I mention the interesting clothing? I did, but I found this aspect of the book fascinating because I’m not one who fully comprehended this subgenre before listening to this book.
Quantum has not changed much from the first book. He packs the same cocky attitude of shooting first and ask questions later. His first thought it to apply a level of violence to any situation, but his friends have to show him there are other ways of solving one’s issues before doing any harm. We have an expanded inventory from the first as Quantum has acquired a few new toys. I thought the technology penalty to one’s life counter in Steam was an interesting twist. You could bring in any weapon type, but if it was not powered by steam, your health would diminish the moment you began to use it. Who would not like to have a steampunked cat as a pet? Quantum is still focused on the many glories of food options he has in both the physical and virtual worlds. However, with the FDA now the enforcer of preventing obesity, he has to find ways of enjoying his latest passion of food and drink.
Let me turn to the audio narration. As stated earlier, Jeff Hays is the narrator I measure all the other narrators I listen to against. He is the standards setter when it comes to audiobook narration. He even hosts a Twitch channel where one can watch him performing his narration; give it a watch some time. You cannot go wrong if you are looking for someone that puts in the extra effort making a book come to life than Jeff does. The work is polished, professional, read with a passion, and as with all his other works, he flawlessly is able to maintain the many different characters and keep them distinct and interesting. There were no noticeable audio artifacts detected while listening, no swallows, clicks, page turns, etc.
As with the first, a note to parents and young readers, this book contains vulgar language, sexual references along with some innuendos, and at times elements of crude humor. The language used in this book is a bit stronger and flowing then what was used in the first book. So, if these are a concern, I would recommend you find a different book series to enjoy.
In summary, the second book in the series is well worth your time and Audible credit. It is more polished, more exciting, and more of everything that made the first book so much fun. After listening to the first book, I dove right into the second book and devoured it nearly as quickly. I’m looking forward to the third book, which I will be reviewing shortly. I’m sure it is also just as well done as the first two.
Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.