Robert Jeschonek is an envelope-pushing, USA Today-bestselling author whose fiction, comics, and non-fiction have been published around the world. His stories have appeared in Pulphouse Fiction Magazine, Clarkesworld, Pulp Literature, and other publications. His novels have won the International Book Award, the Forward National Literature Award, and the Scribe Award.

Steampunks and Other Heavy Hitters by Robert Jeschonek

The power of steam drives conflict and adventure around the world, pitting fantastic retro technologies on the field of battle in the name of ambition and heroism. Thrill to breathtaking feats of derring-do in the age of steampunk saviors and beyond. Pirates, pipers, pilots, and cowboys will whisk you into whirlwinds of excitement in other eras, too, and will keep you on the edge of your seat for every heart-pounding page. Experience one spectacular exploit after another in the unforgettable words of USA Today bestselling author Robert Jeschonek, a scifi champion with a Star Trek and Doctor Who pedigree.


Another new collection, this one from Robert Jeschonek. The nifty thing about Bob is that no matter what genre he tries, he hits every mark yet makes that genre his own. Steampunks And Other Heavy Hitters is pure Jeschonek…and exclusive to the bundle. – Kristine Kathryn Rusch




From the sound of the heavy footfalls in the jungle, I thought at first we must be under attack by at least twenty Spaniards.

Immediately, I swung up my musket and aimed in the direction of the racket.

"Prepare to fight!" My father, beside me, had drawn his sword. He cut an imposing figure, clad in his ornate golden armor, swinging his golden blade overhead.

He looked every bit the legendary explorer, warrior, and nobleman known the world over as Sir Walter Raleigh.

"Stand your ground!" shouted Father. "We are too close to our goal to be driven back now! The fabled city of El Dorado surely awaits beyond those very trees!"

As he said those words, the source of the heavy footfalls stomped ever closer—then burst from the foliage not thirty yards away. It was then that we could see how wrong we'd been about what had been causing that din.

No Spaniards leaped from that thicket, ready to keep us from our prize. Francisco Pizarro (nephew of the notorious conqueror of the same name) and his army had been dogging our forces since the Orinoco River, but they hadn't gotten ahead of us here.

Rather, what was storming out of the forest was something I'd never seen before. It was a veritable juggernaut, a behemoth of gleaming black metal twelve feet high, its body studded with what looked like gun barrels. To my eyes, it clearly looked to be a weapon, a heavily armed monstrosity designed for battle.

More than that, it was proof...proof that we had finally found the lost city we had sought: El Dorado, the City of Machines.

Father, I knew, realized this, too. "Hold!" he ordered us. "Perhaps this is but an emissary sent to escort us to the city gate."

At that very instant, gouts of steam hissed out of the twin smokestacks mounted on the juggernaut's upper back. Its torso rotated smoothly to face my father, and the two big gun barrels mounted on its shoulders swung around to point in his direction.

I heard a low rumble from its body, but I was already in motion by then. Dropping my musket, I raced toward Father, my gold-plated armor clanking as I ran.

There was a loud thump behind me, as of something being ejected from a tube. I launched myself at Father, slamming him back and down to the ground, knocking the breath out of both of us.

As we landed, a projectile whizzed past overhead at a high rate of speed. The juggernaut's first shot had missed.

No sooner had it done so than Father called out to his force of thirty-five men. "Attack!"

Muskets boomed around us in quick succession. Looking back, I saw they did no visible damage; every ball bounced off the juggernaut's black metal skin like birdseed off a windowpane.

In short, it was incredible to behold. If the rest of the city contained mechanical wonders of a like nature, this El Dorado we sought was indeed a place of miracles unlike any I had witnessed before.

But would they be a match for the wonders of alchemy that we had at our disposal? That remained to be seen.

Hastily, I got to my feet and hauled Father up to his. Without waiting for further instruction, I unclipped one of the glass grenades from the bandolier across my chest and took a step toward the juggernaut.

By then, the machine's torso had rotated to face other members of our party. I raised my grenade—a glass sphere filled with glittering gold liquid—then pulled it back and threw it forward.

God was with me. The grenade hit the upper quadrant of the juggernaut's broad torso, shattering into a thousand tiny shards. The contents of the capsule splashed the great machine's body, the golden liquid running over its ebony skin.

Before my eyes, the black metal encasing the juggernaut turned gleaming silver, then oozed down all around, melting away from the inner structure. The liquefied metal, mercury, had replaced the monstrosity's impenetrable exterior.

Centuries of alchemical study had led European civilization to this mastery. We had attained the magnum opus, the power to recreate the philosopher's stone...and that had enabled us to transmute metals at will.

"Well done, Wat!" Father insisted on calling me by my family nickname, even in the heat of battle. "Move in, men!"

Father and the rest of us converged on the melting mechanical. Now that the skin was mostly gone, we could see a single being inside it—a brown-skinned little man sitting in a metal cage. He had short, glossy black hair and was wearing gray coveralls trimmed with red piping. A canopy of some kind of translucent sheeting—a non-metallic substance, apparently, that resisted our alchemical transmutation—had protected him from the oozing mercury.

As we drew closer, the juggernaut's pilot scowled and raised his hands. He did not appear to possess a blade or sidearm; perhaps, in the belly of that once-mighty mechanism, he had not felt the need for further defensive measures.

"Good sir!" said Father. "As you can see, we are quite capable of defending ourselves...but we come in peace!"

The pilot narrowed his eyes and rattled off something in a language I didn't recognize.

Father sheathed his sword in the golden scabbard at his waist and spread his arms wide. "We have come in search of the city of El Dorado. We wish only to explore the possibilities for an exchange of knowledge between our peoples."

The pilot rattled off a stream of words in another language. This time, I recognized it as Spanish.

So did Father. Instantly, he shifted from English to fluent Spanish in addressing the pilot. "You say you don't know this El Dorado whereof I speak? Your magnificent contraption says otherwise."

The pilot switched from Spanish to English without missing a beat. Apparently, his people had had contact with ours at some point, as well as the Spaniards. "What contraption?" He grinned at the puddle of mercury spreading out from the juggernaut's base.

"Touché." Father laughed. "Then I hope, since you are without the protection of such a device, that you will allow us to escort you safely through the wilderness." He walked to the edge of the puddle and extended a hand.

The pilot sighed and took the hand. "What did you say your name was?"

"Sir Walter Raleigh." Father turned and nodded in my direction. "This is my son, Wat. And your name, sir?"

"Ganix," said the pilot as Father helped him step free of the metal framework. "Call me Ganix."