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Fortitude

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New Londinium, the capital of the United Republic of Britannia, is the birthplace of the “clean steam” era and a haven for free-thinkers, progressives, and intellectuals. Its government relies solely on the advice of the Council of Danaeus, a collective of the world's pre-eminent scientists and inventors, to formulate the policies that make this city the most celebrated in the world. Yet something sinister is invading New Londinium - an immortality cult whose machinations to enslave all but a chosen few threaten to transform the city from a beacon of hope to a flagship of misery.



So when the impoverished but undaunted Viola Winslow discovers her dead brother in a state of reanimation, she requests the assistance of renowned female inventor, Doctor Parthena Ripley, and her feisty sister, Artemis Ripley Devereaux, to save him. 

However, it’s not until Doctor Corazon Paget, the grand dame of the Council, disappears in suspicious circumstances and a series of explosions rock New Londinium that Parthena, Artemis and Viola begin to understand the deadly game in play...

298 pages, Paperback

First published May 31, 2019

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About the author

Karen Bayly

21 books19 followers
Karen Bayly’s passion for writing began as a child when she wrote soap operas for her dolls to perform under her creative direction. These days it’s her biology PhD, research background, and general dismay at how the world is going that informs her writing, a fusion of science fiction, horror, and fantasy.

However, she dabbles in literary fiction and screenplays as well. She received an Honourable Mention for The Waiting in the Mainstream/ Literary Short Story Category, 73rd Writer’s Digest Competition. In 2016, she reached the quarterfinals of Screencraft’s Cinematic Short Story Competition with Daphne’s Dance. In the same year, her short science fiction screenplay, The Reconciled, reached the quarterfinals of Screencraft’s Short Screenplay Competition.

Her short stories, flash fiction, and poems have appeared in journals such as Toasted Cheese, Overland, Yellow Mama Webzine, Skive Magazine, Voluted Tales, and Every Day Fiction. Her stories have been featured in anthologies from Black Beacon Press, Black Hare Press, and Crystal Lake Publishing.

In 2019, Mary Celeste Press published Karen’s first novel, Fortitude, a steampunk adventure. Two companion stories have followed: “Foul Beasts” in Black Beacon Press’s anthology, Murder and Machinery, and “The Clockwork Witch” in Black Hare Press’s Punk anthology. Fortitude is currently unavailable but watch this space!

In 2022, Black Hare Press published her novelette, Tesato’s Code.

She lives in the outer suburbs of Sydney, Australia, with two cats, a guitar, and a ukulele.

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Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 reviews
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
Author 2 books234 followers
June 11, 2019
This inventive tale, an eclectic blend of science fiction, fantasy and steampunk, takes place in 1901, in the city of New Londinium. Dirigibles float through the air, and citizens travel through the streets of the city by hover machine, steam carriage or steam cab. The Council of Danaeus, a collective of highly-regarded scientists, seek to improve society through their inventions, especially those which make use of renewable and clean power. One of their most lauded designs is the Ripley Perpetual Steam Engine, invented by Doctor Parthena Ripley.

The redoubtable Parthena and her younger sister Artemis charmed me from the start of the tale: both are strong independent women who remain loyal to each other, without a whiff of sibling rivalry. When Parthena, who captivates everyone she meets, dallies with the heart of young Viola, Artemis is there with sage advice and fond concern. Parthena lends support to her sister in equal measure.

When Viola discovers that her brother has been the subject of an inhumane experiment, the novel moves into darker territory. Greed threatens to triumph over good and the tension ramps up, especially in the second half of the story. While the story mostly plays out within the realm of science fantasy, the novel is infused with the aesthetics of steampunk, aided by Karen Bayly’s precise turns of phrase, attention to detail, and aptitude for droll witticisms. An admirable debut.


Profile Image for Cameron Trost.
Author 50 books414 followers
December 23, 2021
Fortitude by Karen Bayly is a rollicking steampunk adventure set in New Londinium in 1901. Karen sets the story up with a neat prologue that introduces the reader to this alternate London before diving into the action. We meet Viola Winslow, who works at the Registry of Dirigibles and will soon cross paths with our heroine sisters, Parthena and Artemis. The reader immediately understands that together they will lead a struggle against the dark forces seeking to bring this bright city to its knees.

The world-building, characters, plot, and pacing are all spot on in this novel. We know where Bayly is taking us, but we don't know precisely how, and there's no telling when and how big each explosion will be. What we do suspect from its very first mention is that we'll board the dirigible, Fortitudo, and experience some wild times above the city of New Londinium before the battle has been won. And there, we're not disappointed.

Karen seemlessly interweaves character development, technological explanations, and a romantic subplot while never letting the pace drop, making this an engaging fast-paced action thriller. I'd love to see this made into a film. But sticking to the page, the prose is smooth and elegant while packing a punch...or rather, a blast of steam. This is a well-written, entertaining, and thought-provoking novel that will suit fans of steampunk adventure and sci-fiction in general, but also appeal to fans of dystopian and horror fiction. Above all, it's perfect for anyone who has ever imagined saving the world from the pilot seat of a dirigible. So, get moving! Grab your goggles and gloves, and climb aboard the Fortitudo!
1 review3 followers
June 15, 2019
You might not expect a recipe of fantasy, sci-fi, romance, steampunk and horror to come out all that good, but Bayly has proved herself an expert literary chef with Fortitude. The genres blend together easily and the pages turn quickly. This is an enjoyable read for those who like fantasy, horror and steampunk.
451 reviews17 followers
October 12, 2019
I really enjoyed this novel.

The world-building is excellent, with a steampunk-adjacent technology and a couple of intriguing societies. The pacing is well-done, with plenty of description woven through the action and not slowing things down. I also liked the author's take on a couple of mythological elements - it fit with with what I know of the lore and within the world the author established.

For me, the real strength in this novel was the character development. I loved the female characters. They are all well-fleshed out, with obvious strengths and weaknesses. I loved the ways that they navigated their world. The budding romance was sweet (but not cloying), and, I found, utterly charming and believable. The male characters were also well-fleshed out, although they are not as prominent in the storyline.

If there was one element that I would have appreciated more from, it was in the villains' stories. I would have liked to have known more about them - individual motivations as well as their collective history. But, the author has laid groundwork for this to be revealed in a sequel, which I hope will come to pass.

This was a lovely read, and I'm excited to read more from this author.

I received a copy of this book through Voracious Readers Only.
Profile Image for Dakota.
20 reviews
January 19, 2020
A fast-paced steampunk tale with some unexpected plot twists that keep you guessing about what the final outcome will be.
Profile Image for Marissa.
514 reviews
September 9, 2019
Fortitude can be described as a steampunk/science fiction/horror mix with a little bit of romance thrown in. Sounds like a lot to throw in one book, but I think it worked. Being a scientist myself, I could tell that the author who wrote this had experience in that field and definitely put some thought into those aspects of the book. New Londinium is an innovative and imaginative steampunk world where dirigibles fly, residents travel via steam powered modes of transportation, and cutting edge scientific discoveries are being made. A scientific decision making body ensures that there is some control over these discoveries and that they don't run out of control. Unfortunately, they don't have their eyes on everything. An immortalist cult gets their hands on the latest and greatest invention and uses it for nefarious means. Before the residents on New Londinium know it, the dead starts showing back up in a reanimated state. The only thing that really bothered me about this book was that the romance was a bit awkward in development and fell flat. It felt a bit rushed and almost forced. Regardless, I think this story laid the groundwork for a good steampunk world where scientific innovative discovery thrives. I encourage the author to continue development of this world and its characters. I would definitely be interested in visiting New Londinium in the future.

I received a copy of this book through Voracious Readers Only.
Profile Image for Kelli.
226 reviews1 follower
December 8, 2019
Imaginative, well written, enchanting and quick paced. Couldn't put it down once I picked it up. Bayly surprised me with her twists and cleverly wrought plot. Looking forward to a sequel, if the author decides to write one.
Profile Image for Angela.
Author 39 books72 followers
June 10, 2019
Fortitude was a lovely read. I enjoyed this captivating combination of adventure, heart, and hijinks thoroughly! As with all my favorite books, I didn’t want it to end, and I hope Karen Bayly gets the recognition she deserves, so she can write a sequel.
Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 reviews

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