Fortunato takes a nice-sized leap away from her series, The Sin Collector, in the short story Steam. I’ve enjoyed The Sin Collector and the companion novella, The Sin Collector: Thomas, but with Steam it is a much different genre, set of characters, and overall feel that sets it apart from her past work.
At the base of this story is the theme of love. But this isn’t just a love story of romance. There is love on many levels throughout that can touch many different readers. This is all due to the life that the main character, Charlotte (or her nickname, Charlie,) has to live. When you live a majority of your life with an artificial heart instead of a human heart, things won’t be normal.
I really enjoy how Fortunato can put so much into a short story. There’s no lack of depth to her characters. As mentioned Charlie is a complicated character. Viktor also is hard to figure out until later in the story when things start clicking together. It is the complexity that allows the reader to think, predict, and still enjoy whatever outcome happens in the end.
Aside from the characters, I enjoyed the mixed genres in Steam. I don’t even know what to call it exactly. There’s part steampunk, in the technology used to keep Charlie alive, there’s a bit of a fantasy element because of this as well, coupled with being more of a sci-fi or at least slight jump into medical innovations of the near future kind of feel. All of this is placed in a very contemporary world where almost everything seems normal. Don’t let that make you think it’s confusing. I think it’s great that this story can’t be placed in one little pocket of a genre and forgotten. I think it appealed to me more because it doesn’t have a place anywhere but has a place everywhere, in a sense.
To wrap this up, I thought I’d be looking forward, more, to reading Fortunato’s The Sin Collector series book 2 when it comes out later this year. But, now that I’ve read Steam and seen her talents for working in an almost alien genre to TSC, I’m going to be on the lookout for more pieces like this to come.