Review: Carnal Machines – Steampunk Erotica

Steampunk Erotica is a part of Steampunk fiction I have thus far only encountered on the website SteamyPunk. I did not really enjoy what I read there back then, when the site was pointed out to me.

So recently, I received an email with the following press release:

Carnal Machines: Steampunk Erotica
Edited by D.L. King

Erotica at its steamiest -literally! D. L. King, editor of the bestselling vampire anthology, The Sweetest Kiss is back with a collection of steampunk sex stories!

The Victorians wrote some of the best and most enduring erotica. For such a tightly-laced age, people spent a lot of time thinking about things carnal. Jules Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells, et al enthralled us with their visions of new possibilities. The rich and slightly decadent visuals of the steam age lend themselves perfectly to the new carnality of post-punk era. And, of course, what is repressed will be even more exciting once the corset is unlaced. Steampunk, even without sex, is erotic; with sex, it’s over-the-top hot. A widowed lady engineer invents a small device that can store the energy from sexual frustration and convert it to electricity to help power a home. Teresa Noelle Roberts shows us what it can do, confronted with sexual fulfillment. What volume of steampunk would be complete without a tale of sailing ships and the men who sail them? If your taste runs to sexy pirates in space, Poe Von Page will delight you with the mutinous crew of the Danika Blue and their new captain.

Then there’s the very special room on the top floor in the House of the Sable Locks, a brothel where sexually discriminating men go to have their fantasies fulfilled. Even if a man daren’t put those fantasies into words, Elizabeth Schechter’s “Succubus” will give the madam all the information she needs with which to make her clients happy. There are brothels, flying machines, steam-powered conveyances, manor houses, spiritualist societies. The following stories afford intelligently written, beautifully crafted glimpses into other worlds, where the Carnal Machines won’t fail to seduce you, get you wet or make you hard so, lie back, relax; a happy ending is guaranteed.

Contributor Information
D. L. King publishes and edits the review site, Erotica Revealed ( She most recently edited the bestselling The Sweetest Kiss:Ravishing Vampire Erotica, She is the author of two novels, The Melinoe Project and The Art of Melinoe. Her work can be found in anthologies such as The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Girl Crazy, Frenzy, Yes, Ma’am and Yes, Sir. Find her at

The email was unpersonalised… Usually, when I get an email, the sender at least adresses me with “webmaster” or Traveler, the guys from Angry Robot know my first name, this one simply said “Hello!”, which made me a little suspicious.

Anyway, I decided to order a copy of Carnal Machines: Steampunk Erotica and review it on this blog.

Except for the stories on SteamyPunk, I had thus far no expeience with erotic literature, but the nature of this art form makes it pretty easy to judge wether or not it is good.

Carnal Machines is a collection of short stories, so I could expect a wide range of styles and subjects… I thought…

The collection starts strong. Teresa Noelle Roberts Human Powered is quite a clever little tale. It is steampunk, it is lightly erotic and there is some chemistry between the characters. Quite enjoyable. It is also the only one I consider truely steampunk among the lot. Most of the others have a token steampunk element, mostly steam- or clockwork powered sex toys, but nothing else.

I do not think a porn tale with a clockwork device is steampunk erotica. As I said, the collection starts strong, after that, things get worse. Most of the other tales are hardly erotic, not steampunk at all and some are not even fun to read. Sleight of Hand is actually entertaining and not too blunt in its description of procreational action and Deviant Devices is the collections best story. A genuinely enjoyable and very erotic story. The characters actually bond.

On the other side of the scale are The Servant Question, a rather slapsticky tale, full of topic-related nouns, verbs and adjectives and Mutiny on the Danika Blue is torture read, blunt and if I would not know better, I would say it was written by a masochistic male teenager. The language is just crude, painfully crude and blunt.

The others are nice and entertaining reads, a bit odd sometimes but they all fail being effective, beautiful and enjoyable where it counts in context of this collection.

Three out of ten Zeppelins, and that’s only because Human Powered, Sleight of Hand and Deviant Devices rank much higher.

And if you are wondering, who the girl on the cover might be, that is her, the lovely Ophelia Overdose:

Prayer by =Ophelias-Overdose on deviantART

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