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The Falling Machine

(The Society of Steam #1)

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  860 ratings  ·  130 reviews
This new steampunk series opens in 1880, when women aren't allowed to vote, much less dress up in a costume and fight crime. But twenty year-old socialite Sarah Stanton still dreams of becoming a hero. Her opportunity arrives in tragedy when the leader of the Society of Paragons, New York's greatest team of gentlemen adventurers, is murdered right before her eyes. To uncov ...more
Paperback, 284 pages
Published May 24th 2011 by Pyr (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.37  · 
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Aug 11, 2011 rated it liked it
As I was browsing the shelfs in my local Borders bookstore amid liquidation and "going ouy of Business" signs, I happened to find this little gem of a book, all alone on a desolate sci-fyi section book shelf.

I read the summary, read a few pages, liked it enough and for the 50% off price, I bought it and took it home. Back then i was really interested in steam-punk genre - (its pretty cool and interesting concept) and my curiosity got me excited about the book.

Unfortunately, the book had a slow s
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: steampunk
What if the Justice League of DC Comics was less about super-powers and more about physical prowess, mental deduction, and mad inventions (fairly much out of the pulp adventures of Doc Savage or movie serial villains like Bela Lugosi in The Phantom Creeps)? Then, what if this not-entirely super group of heroes were placed in the late 19th century U.S. when the use of steam was driving the transformation of industry and transformation? What if you took a page of George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards s ...more
April Steenburgh
Mar 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: steampunk
Sarah Stanton is the daughter of the Industrialist, one of the founding members of the Society of Paragons- a group of gentlemen adventurers who police New York City. Having grown up surrounded by the exploits and inventions of the Paragons Sarah has the mind and motivation to be an adventurer herself, if it weren’t for her protective father. And the at times overwhelming obstacle of her gender. She is a strong, outgoing female without seeming out of place in her setting- an unconventional woman ...more
Jason Pettus
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

There are some who say that the science-fiction subgenre known as "steampunk" is all played out by now, and that there's nothing new to be added to the endless tales of high-tech-meets-Victoriana we've already seen in the last twenty years; and to all of these people, all I can say is, "Screw you, good sir
Jun 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
A friend described THE FALLING MACHINE to me as "part Sherlock Holmes, part Justice League of America, all Steampunk." I think he hit the nail on the head. I'm not a huge steampunk fan -- as a genre I have no problem with it, but I don't tend to be drawn to it -- but this premise intrigued me. And the author's appearance on the #sffwrtcht thread on Twitter a few weeks back helped cement my decision to read it.

It is both a fast read and a good read. I was immediately pulled into the world Mayer h
Feb 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a fun book in the spirit of George Mann's Ghosts of Manhattan, though lighter at least in tone if not in events which turn darker in the second half.

Superheroes and steampunk in a true age of steam and in New York rather than London at about the time the Brooklyn Bridge was being built - that would be ~1880 and see note below - since the novel starts with a superb action sequence on its construction site - the book moves fast and furious and it delivers what I expected of it quite well
Andrew Adams
Aug 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
Several reviewers have already commented on THE FALLING MACHINE's slow pace, and I agree in particular with someone's statement that it reads too much like an intended comic book. That might sound strange considering the appeal for most readers will be the Victorian superhero scenario. I, too, was drawn in by that concept. That said, it was Justin Gerard's cover art that caught my attention, with the book itself falling short of its expectation. This may speak to the need for the visual side of ...more
Althea Ann
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
Well, this may be the first "steampunk superhero" story, but I have to admit I'm not a big fan of superheroes in general, and I found the story to be unexceptional (and unfinished - it's a cliffhanger with a sequel on the way).
I try not to complain about typos in ARCs (there are many), but the lack of commas before a character's name throughout the book seemed to be more than a typo (it was consistent), and was very distracting. (There's a difference between "You know, John" and "You know John."
May 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Steampunk, young adult
I owned this book for some time before I picked it up and began reading. Why? Because this novel has a major conceit that I found challenging to accept: What if the fictional twentieth-century superheroes we’re all familiar with have nineteenth century antecedents? How would they behave and dress, and what dilemmas would they face? To further complicate matters, this book is informed by Steampunk tropes and themes, and I couldn’t help but be worried that this interesting concept would devolve in ...more
Fred Hughes
Dec 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Book one of the Society of Steam series of Steampunk novels grabs you by throat right at the start with the death of a key figure one Sir Dennis Darby. Sit Dennis has created an automaton called Tom who we find out is powered by something called “Fortified Steam”. This is a power source of seemingly limitless power. The “Fortified Steam” is held in an object that looks like a glowing key which is stolen from Sir Dennis after he is killed.

The thief states that the Children of Eschaton have stolen
Nov 28, 2016 rated it liked it
I did enjoy this read. The idea of superheroes and -villains in steam powered costumes and weird names really appealed to me. And it was fun. None of the characters are perfect, which I really appreciated. Sarah's father is very stern and unfair, but he obviously loves his daughter and he means it well. The potential 'love interest' (though I really hope he doesn't become that later in the series) is often quite mean and he does like his alcohol, which our heroine doesn't just let him get away w ...more
Mar 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-books, 2011-reads
I read an ARC and as the book will be published in May you have to wait for my full review until May.
But of course I would like to share with you my first impressions.

The Society of Steam is the next steampunk series I definitely will follow.

It seems there is a kind of trend to use New York instead of London as setting for steampunk novels. I just remember Gods of Manhattan by Al Ewing and Ghosts of Manhattan by George Mann.

These three novels have more in common than one thinks at first sight.

Gregory Gay
Steampunk superheroes - how can you not love it?

The Falling Machine presents a fascinating look at The Paragons, the greatest superhero team of the Gilded Age. As the team is torn apart by betrayal and corruption, the daughter of one of their members decided to investigate the murder of her mentor (and former Paragon leader). She teams up with a mechanical man (and lead suspect), and begins to learn the secrets of the heroes that she has spent her life idealizing.

It's good stuff.

Mar 24, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: review-rt, sff
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: steampunk, ya
Sarah Stanton is the only child of business magnate Alexander Stanton. She's a woman ahead of her time—her time being New York's 1880s, the Gilded Age of industry and technology, but otherwise behind on women's suffrage.

However, Sarah doesn't let her father or society's strictures slow her down. Sure she has to wear a bustle and corset, and her father wants to marry her off by the end of the season, but that doesn't stop her from trying to find Sir Dennis Darby's killer.

In the meantime, Darby's
Apr 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Picked up this book basically at random while at work. I've always been interested in the steampunk motif but haven't really read many novels that I think qualify, and none that really struck me like Gibson and Sterling's The Difference Engine did many years ago.

This book is clearly the first in a series and if one expects any conflicts to be really resolved or explicated, one will certainly be disappointed. I found the setup to be reasonably interesting and the book laid the groundwork for the
Josh Smith
Feb 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'll be honest. I didn't research this book before I bought it. I knew nothing of the author, or the plot, or any other significant details. I picked it up on a whim on my last visit to the bookstore. And somehow, it turned out to be one of the better novels I've read this year.

The story goes like this (spoiler free!): Sarah Stanton, daughter of one of the leaders of the Paragons, a group of heroes that protect New York City, witnesses the murder of one of the founders of the same group, and bec
Nicholas Ahlhelm
Jul 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Paragons are a team of pulp heroes in the late 19th century. They are steampunk superheroes with powerful gadgets that make them more powerful than mere mortals.

They aren’t the stars of Society of Steam Book One: The Falling Machine by Andrew Mayer.

Instead the book focuses around two players in their circle. Sarah Stanton is the daughter of the Industrialist and confidant of the Professor (a.k.a. Sir Dennis Darby). Her costar is the Automaton, Tom for short, a powerful, robotic man and Darby
Mar 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really, really liked this book. I have to be honest and admit that I judged this book by it's cover, which is actually not that bad, but I read the hand-drawn illustration as amateurish and wasn't in a big hurry to read it. But I'm on something of a mission to read ALL steampunk books, so I went ahead. And I was so pleasantly surprised. At first I was enjoying this fun and exciting book about Victorian era superheroes called The Paragons, and the daughter of one of them who wanted to be involv ...more
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
I thought this book was about Sarah Stanton and the automaton per the synopsis. It ends up that each chapter switched to a different random characters pov and very little was dedicated to Sarah and the automaton. This resulted in little interest of any character and boring plot, with boring descriptions of things such as a gavel. This book may interest the age range of 13-15 year olds
Jul 28, 2013 rated it liked it
DAMMIT Goodreads, why is when I misclick somewhere outside my review pane it COMPLETELY LOSES MY REVIEW IN PROGRESS????

Annoyed now.

Spoilers follow. Shorter version since I lost the first.

Good: Gay couple!
Bad: Dead gay couple.

Good: Downtrodden people in 1880s New York really don't like being trodden upon!
Bad: Downtrodden people in 1880s New York...are in league with supervillains?

Good: Heroine is brave and clever and takes up arms to protect her friend (not child or lover)!
Steampunk superheroes. Unfortunately, this book wasn't quite as awesome as I had hoped it would be. It was a good story but I had two main issues with how the story was told - first, the language style of the narrative was confusing at times, and almost made me give up on the book very early on. The second was the rather heavy-handed characterization of certain characters to be of the "there there, dear, don't worry your pretty little head" variety of males to Sarah.

An interesting premise, thoug
Oct 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
4 stars= recommended! The biggest delight of this book for me was the surprising twists in characterization. This book was not a simplistic combination of steampunk scenery and super hero tropes-- instead we have an examination of flawed humans behind the superhero masks embedded in a conflict that shows us the roots of our current historical era with both its good and bad sides.

At the same time it's a good old fashioned adventure story :-)

I don't know what's going to happen next, and that's wh
Jun 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Engaging characters, a fun steam punk world, not afraid to shake things up and some smart writing around the nature of science and innovation.

The only thing that has let both this and the second book down is cliff hanger endings. Mayer writes well enough that he shouldn't have to rely on suspense to get people to buy the next book.

Looking forward to the third in the series (though not the wait until it comes out).
Steven Davis
Jan 08, 2017 rated it liked it
This book surprised me. At the beginning it was - American Steampunk superheroes. Ho hum. Victorian era sensibilities, steam power, mah, nothing special ... but it's actually quite involving. For a cheap find in a box in a second hand store, I actually want to know what happens next. It's pleasantly untwee, and there's a satisfactory bodycount. ...more
Joseph Giddings
Mar 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: steampunk
Err, umm...

In a word - disappointing.
Travis Knight
Sep 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
In the last year I’ve realized that despite all resistance on my behalf I have become a fan of steampunk. Getting netted into sub-genres--especially those that can make me uncomfortable with kitsch or cliché--is one of my least favorite aspects of writing reviews. So it goes without saying that I’m always on the prowl for good new books by authors I haven’t heard of before, hoping to find something fresh on the horizon. I try to read widely from an array of sources and angles, but darn if I don’ ...more
Thomas King
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
4/10 Very flawed, lacks polish and quality.

In an alternate 1880, steam-powered super heroes, the Paragons, use their technology to fight crime and equally steam-powered villains. Sarah Stanton, a young woman, is denied becoming a hero but is the only one who can save the Paragons from destruction.

The Falling Machine delivers its superhero premise swiftly and handles it mostly well. The heroes have larger-than-life personas and unique outfits that tie into their steam-powered abilities. This coul
May 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Heroes and villains, each with a special nickname, the Bomb Lance, the Iron-Clad, the Industrialist, etc., a super villain bent on destroying the world and a young woman trying to break out of the expected role for a woman in 1880s New York, all make for a steampunk superhero story. The Automaton almost seemed like steampunk verson of a nanotechnology robot from more futuristic sci-fi stories. It did irk me that nobody would listen to what happened, perfering to just jump to conclusions and accu ...more
Dec 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Interesting book, set in New York in the 1870s. A group of costumed crime fighters, the Paragon Society, is facing a new challenge from a group and from within their own society. The daughter of the founder of the society would live to be part of it but can't because she's a girl. Towards the end of the book, things go sideways for the society and she may get her chance. The ending isn't wrapped up neatly but continues into the next book. ...more
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The Ultimate ABC ...: The Falling Machine by Andrew Mayer 1 2 Mar 14, 2012 04:45AM  

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Andrew P. Mayer is an author and video game designer.

His first novel series, the acclaimed steampunk superhero trilogy, The Society of Steam, was published by Pyr books.

He has published two volumes of "The Fool", a cross-dimensional fantasy series, and is currently hard at work on a new epic fantasy series.

Andrew currently lives in Portland, Oregon, where he crafts his novels on cloudy days.

Other books in the series

The Society of Steam (3 books)
  • Hearts of Smoke and Steam (The Society of Steam, #2)
  • Power Under Pressure (The Society of Steam, #3)

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