Aside from a stellar title, where can one start with Maurice Broaddus’ PIMP MY AIRSHIP? Well, let’s start with a synopsis:
Enter Sleepy, who wants nothing more than to remain in his (relatively) comfy apartment, keep a low profile, smoke chiba, and spit fast rhymes at the local club. Yet, when the rascal, protester Knowledge Allah stumbles on him, they soon find themselves at odds with the law and running for their lives.
Meanwhile, Sophine Jefferson lives a peaceful life of privilege as an heiress, but it all turns upside down when her father is murdered and she looks for justice, which soon finds her. All three of them soon become wrapped up in a far larger web of intrigue any bargained for, and one with long reaching consequences, not only for the city of Indianapolis, but the entire country.
Not only has Broaddus managed to create an intricate steampunk-esque alternate United States, but he has translated all of the current cultural and societal problems as well. In some ways, this may appear saddening since even in an alternate US, our problems seem inherent, but these issues are instead dealt with head on and with unflinching, courageous freedom fighters and orators who will not be denied. The cops are resisted and critiqued on their methods and corruption. Racism is challenged for being the status quo. No issue is left untouched or ignored by Broaddus.
This is only talking about the themes and issues though, we havn’t even begun to talk about the actual story. With magnificent flair, Sleepy, Allah, and Sophine are all vibrant characters whose banter left me laughing more than once and continue to push and pull against one another throughout the story. Having an all POC cast, is a refreshing change and perfect for the story that was being told, considering it puts them all in direct conflict of the oppressive forces and systems that rise to stop them.
The world building of this steampunk United States is amazing and clearly Broaddus has spent more than a little time building it and hanging out in Indianapolis of Albion. The dialogue is snappy and street smart as one would expect, which keeps the book light on its feet, despite the heavy issues that threaten to weigh it down. The alternate history of this United States is fascinating and hearing familiar names like Lincoln and James Baldwin and others only increases the appreciation for such small details.
Broaddus has managed to create what could be considered a steampunk classic in the years to come. The contemporary relevance, prose, and characterization make this a book that cannot be missed.
PIMP MY AIRSHIP was just released by APEX BOOK COMPANY on May 21st!