Set in the late nineteenth century--in a city a lot like what we now call Seattle Underground--when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront. Karen is a young woman on her own, making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable's high-quality bordello. Through Karen's eyes we get to know the other girls in the house--a resourceful group--and the poor and the powerful of the town. Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, begging sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone's mind and control their actions. As if that wasn't bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap--a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered. Hard on the heels of that horrifying discovery comes a lawman who has been chasing this killer for months. Marshal Bass Reeves is closing in on his man, and he's not about to reject any help he can get, even if it comes from a girl who works in the Hôtel Mon Cheri. Bear brings alive this Jack-the-Ripper yarn of the Old Steampunk West with a light touch in Karen's own memorable voice, and a mesmerizing evocation of classic steam-powered science.
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Sarah Bear Elizabeth Wishnevsky (born September 22, 1971) is an American author. Writing under the name Elizabeth Bear, she works primarily in the genre of speculative fiction, and was a winner of the 2005 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, the 2008 Hugo Award for Best Short Story for "Tideline," and the 2009 Hugo Award for her novelette "Shoggoths in Bloom." A native of Hartford, Connecticut, her curriculum vitae includes working as a "media industry professional," a stablehand, a fluff-page reporter, a maintainer of Microbiology procedure manuals for a 1,000-bed inner-city hospital, a typesetter and layout editor, a traffic manager for an import-export business, Emmanuel Labour, and "the girl who makes the donuts at The Whole Donut at three A.M." Until recently, she lived in Las Vegas, Nevada which served as the setting for the short stories One-Eyed Jack and the Suicide King, Follow Me Light, and This Tragic Glass, but she returned to Connecticut in January 2006. Her first novel Hammered was published in January 2005 and was followed by Scardown in July and Worldwired in November of the same year. The trilogy features Canadian Master Warrant Officer Jenny Casey, who is also the main character in the short story Gone to Flowers. Hammered won the Locus Award for Best First Novel in 2006. The Chains That You Refuse, a collection of her short fiction, was published May 2006 by Night Shade Books. Blood and Iron, the first book in the fantasy series entitled "The Promethean Age", debuted June 27th 2006. She is also a coauthor of the ongoing Shadow Unit website/pseudo-TV series. In 2008, she donated her archive to the department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University. She is an instructor at the Viable Paradise writer's workshop and has taught at Clarion West Writers Workshop.