Tom Edison Jr's Electric Sea Spider
The tenth in the eleven story "Tom Edison, Jr." series. The series, published in 1891 and 1892 and written by the pseudonymous "Philip Reade," is one of the top examples of the proto-steampunk genre known as the Edisonade. To quote from the Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana:
The Edisonade, coined by critic John Clute after the Robinsonade, can be defined simply enough: it is a story in which a young American male invents a form of transportation and uses it to travel to uncivilized parts of America or the world, enriches himself, and punishes the enemies of the United States, whether domestic (Native Americans) or foreign. The Edisonades were almost entirely an American creation and appeared in dime novels as serials and as complete novels. They were the single largest category of dime novel science fiction and were the direct ancestors not only of 20th century boys’ fiction characters like Tom Swift but also one of the fathers of early 20th century science fiction, especially in the pulps. And the Edisonades were among the most morally reprehensible works of fiction of the 19th century, on a par with the dime novels the Confederacy published to glorify slavery.
While not as well-known or successful as Luis Senarens' Frank Reade, Jr. series or Senarens' Jack Wright series, the Tom Edison Jr. series is marginally better than either. The Tom Edison Jr. stories are as racist and filled with cutthroat capitalism as the other Edisonade series, but the series is filled with more inventiveness, both in concept and in plot, than the other Edisonade series. Moreover, the Tom Edison Jr. series have a vague notion of continuity, something missing from the Frank Reade Jr. and Jack Wright series. Lastly, "The Electric Sea Spider" features Kiang-Ho, the first modern Yellow Peril. Kiang Ho was the first intelligent, evil Asian mastermind devoted to the goal of the conquest of the West, predating Robert Chambers' Yue-Laou, M.P. Shiel's Dr. Yen How, and Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu by years.
Tom Edison Jr.'s Electric Sea Spider (15 mb pdf)