The long Civil War is finally over, thanks to the brutal battlefield efficiency of the imported clockwork soldiers of Sherman's Terrible Mechanical Corps. Our narrator—a crippled, ne'erdowell Confederate veteran—stumbles out of Sadie’s Dancehall. Staggering around the dusty streets he regales the almost-empty night with his tale of a little squid for whom the call of dry land was just too tempting. Although this "Bold Explorer's" adventure has a promising start, it soon runs afoul, leaving the small explorer at the mercy of the locals and Outrageous Fortune.
A standalone prequel to the celebrated steampunk novella "Tucker Teaches the Clockies to Copulate."
"It’s an engagingly told story, with an interesting background, partially glimpsed from a vantage point behind the bushes outside the dancehall."—BestSF.net
"It's hard to really dislike a story about a squid who invents a mechanical exploration vessel to venture into the Place Beyond"—Russ Allbery