Jay Lake's The Baby Killers will be published by PS Publishing in August 2010.

Here's the description of The Baby Killers from the publisher's website:

"Within our tale, gentle reader, you will see writ before you a palimpsest of low living and high misdemeanor, and the curious redresses that are visited as a result thereof..."

In The Baby Killers, Jay Lake restages mankind's Fall from Grace as an alternate-history steampunk fable. Written in a style of rambunctious Victoriana-that-never-was, this novella is set in Philadelphia in 1907, when that city serves as the seat of the British Dominion of the Americas, and as a Pandora's Box of sin and vice. The Governor-General has a taste for violating innocents, while the good Dr. Scholes uses them to fashion his mechanized agents of Justice. The Gollinoster, a feminine incarnation of angry retribution, wanders beneath the city streets – and an undying creature of ancient destruction is rushing to meet her. Villains and heroes (categories that overlap significantly) battle in a story of debauchery, degradation, radical experimentation, mad metaphysics... and a farting Frenchman.

Both popular culture and actual history are mined here to create a tale in which the use of idealized technology meets our darkest desires... and the result is positively electric.


Before I begin to write this review I have to mention that The Baby Killers was the first story I read from Jay Lake. I've been meaning to read his novels and stories, because I've heard good things about them, but I just haven't had enough time to read them yet. Fortunately I had a chance to read The Baby Killers. It turned to be an excellent novella – to be honest, I liked The Baby Killers so much that I'll definitely read more stories from Jay Lake.

The Baby Killers is a fascinating novella. The events take place in a different kind of Philadelphia, which is totally differently from the modern Philadelphia.

In the beginning of the story Governor-General wishes to find a new girl for himself. His factotum, Hoare, visits Agnes Day, who thinks an innocent girl called Tatyana Verigin is a good choice for a new girl. This happening draws the attention of two beings – Arkady and the Gollinoster. Arkady is a man, who was ages ago turned into a vampire by Tatar shamans and the Gollinoster is a sin eater, who wanders beneath the city and swallows spiritual abuse and criminal intents.

This novella contains an interesting character called Dr. Scholes, who does experimental scientific research and creates new life: the horrific justice machines. In other words, he turns infant children into machines. He's bent on bringing justice to an unjust world.

When all of these different threads come together and events start to move forward, they form a dark and interesting story for adult readers. The story is disturbing, but fascinating and entertaining, because Jay Lake writes fluently about different kind of things. His prose is lush and beautiful – for example, the scene in which Dr. Scholes says "You, my child, are a killer. A baby killer." to his creation is a brilliantly twisted scene, but it's also a disturbingly beautiful scene.

The story feels amazingly fresh. Jay Lake's approach to mankind's fall from grace is unique. He's managed to write a fascinating alternate history steampunk fable, which combines elements of fantasy, science fiction and horror. The resulting novella is a fantastic, horrific and entertaining story for adult readers.

The Baby Killers isn't for everybody, because it's a dark and disturbing story, but readers, who appreciate steampunk and alternate history, will love it. In my opinion The Baby Killers is a charmingly disturbing and shamelessly entertaining novella, which will appeal to fantasy, science fiction and horror readers who like dark and entertaining stories.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

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