Picture in your mind the most insane possible story that could be contained in a book named Steampunk Palin. Go ahead, take ten seconds or so to imagine it perfectly in your mind's eye. Use this cover image for help.

Got it? Good.

You're wrong. You're absolutely wrong. It's at least ten times more insane than that.You don't believe me? You want proof? Fine, here's the first piece of evidence. When you open the cover and see the table of contents, you get this:

That's right. This book contains fifteen pages of story, followed by eight pages of pin-ups of Sarah Palin. If you actually felt a little sick start to crawl up the back of your throat when your first saw that, I can guarantee you weren't the only one. And yes, they're not kidding around with the pin-ups. But I will spare you that horror. For the moment.

Steampunk Palin hopes to capitalize on the popularity of two things: First, former Vice Presidential Candidate and ex-Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, whose life story of beauty queen to elected official to media celebrity has captivated a nation, both for those who find her to be an inspiring voice to the Tea Party movement of libertarian-influenced conservatives, and those who derive perverse entertainment from many of her public statements and behavior.

The second thing is steampunk, a literary genre that borrows the notions of cyberpunk and transplants them into an alternate history past or fantasy world, usually influenced by the works of H.G. Wells or Jules Verne. It's often characterized by the use of advanced technology substitutes reliant on non-electrical power, and a visual aesthetic heavy on intricately designed gearworks. Its popularity has reached a point where some enthusiasts enjoy dressing up in their own steampunk inspired costumes, and thus been fairly or unfairly labelled as "Goths who decided it might be fun to wear brown for a change."

And while I'm willing to believe this book when it tells me it's trying to depict Sarah Palin, my response to the idea that it can be characterized as steampunk is more along the lines of "Hold on there." Although to be fair to the book, Steampunk Palin defies classification into any literary genre, unless there's a genre I'm unaware of simply called "WTF?!?"

The story starts in the near future, in the immediate aftermath of a war that has destroyed all the Earth's oil. A new power source is needed, and Sarah Palin steps forward to suggest steam power as a replacement. A conglomerate consisting of big oil and nuclear power interests makes a counterproposal by blowing her up with a bomb at the meeting where she suggests this.

Let me step back for a second and point out that in order to make steam power you boil water and turn it into steam to power your generators, and that nuclear power, oil and natural gas are some of the most common heat sources used to do that. Anyway, back to crazyland.

Six months later Sarah Palin wakes up to find that she now has body more than half made of robot parts. Powered by steam. It's unclear how exactly they're steam-powered. She mostly looks like Cyborg of the Teen Titans.

But not as much as this guy does:

Yes, Obama blew up in the explosion too, and is now part machine and called "Robama." By the way, the guy talking to him is John McCain and he has a robot arm.

Anyway, they network a bunch of robots that can be controlled by Palin's robot body and they all go off to save the world from the evil oil/nuke organization. And of course the Russians, who, as Robama informs us, have assembled a force along their border with Alaska.

You may have noticed, as I did through the blood slowly weeping out of my eyes, that so far this book seems more like Cyberpunk Palin than Steampunk Palin. The book's creators noticed too, so they had them put on disguises.

Incidentally those costumes -- the only ones they have -- strongl appear to be left over from a production of "Our American Cousin." You know, the play where this happened:

They then defeat the evil organization run by the the oil/nuke conglomerate. Whose soldiers kind of dress like Cobra. And which is led by Al Gore.

That's followed by the aforementioned pages upon pages of pin-ups, which continue the book's cash-in on the fetishization of Sarah Palin, a phenomenon that continues to leave me baffled. Yes, if we're limiting ourselves to the standards of "most physically attractive political figure," I'm sure Sarah Palin does quite well. When she's compared to the general population, I guess she looks pretty good for a woman in her mid-forties. But what crazy person imposes that first set of standards on themselves? "Oh I'm sorry, I can't find someone sexually attractive unless they've gained a plurality of votes in an election for state or national office, so I'm ecstatic Palin came along. So long, Barbara Boxer!"

This isn't first century BC Egypt, when having an attractive leader might theoretically provide some kind of geo-political advantage vis a vis our standing with the Romans. I don't want to see a drawing of the former Governor of Alaska in what appears to be a leather bustier and garters. And even the non-sexual pin-ups manage to be disturbing, like the one that appears to try to depict Palin as both steampunk and non-steam punk.

This book is bad. There's no getting around that. How bad? Well, to be honest when my jaw wasn't dropping so hard I was worried for the safety of my downstairs neighbors, I was laughing pretty hysterically at the events of the 15-page story for reasons I'm going to go ahead and assume are not intended by the authors. Thus, I'm not afraid to declare Steampunk Palin to be so bad it's good. (See graph below)

If you consider yourself a devoted gatherer of such oddities, your collection is not complete without it. But that does not diminish the fact that this book is insane. By reading this book, I have become less sane. By having me relate this book to you, you have become less sane. By being printed onto paper, Steampunk Palin has made the world a less sane place than it was before.

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