The What a Beautiful Steampunk series (so far comprised of Souten no Celenaria, Seiken no Inganock, Shikkoku no Sharnoth, Hikari no Valusia, and Shiei no Sona-nyl) is undoubtedly Liar-soft’s pièce de résistance. However, its stylish prose, complex characters, and its signature way of combining and reworking famous historical and literary characters make it a daunting series for any beginner to start with. One must read through each installment, then their respective webnovel epilogues, fandisks, drama CDs, and other such supplementary materials in order to learn more about its fantastic and unique world. It’s a very large investment of time and for those not fluent, its confusing terminology and the language barrier further complicates things.
So, for simplicity’s sake, I have compiled a glossary of terms and people (not the main cast, those who are only peripherally important), along with a recommended reading list to supply additional background information for the third title in the series: Shikkoku no Sharnoth.
1914: A rumored date of apocalypse, a year when the world is to fall into destruction, terror, and despair. An unchangeable fact of history.
Doctors: Society surgeons who perform Engine Human operations.
Engine Machine: Steam-powered mechanical devices, they can range from automobiles, telephones, and water heaters, to military weapons.
Engine Human, Engine Doll: A human who has been operated on and converted into an Engine Machine, who still retains their human capacity for emotion, thought, and memory, but their biological structure has been replaced with Machine subsitutes. Two types of Engine Humans include Scholar types and City Battle types. More on it here.
Metacreatures: Otherworldly monsters, creatures given birth to under special, unspecified circumstances by people who passionately desire a sole wish. It will not follow orders of the person who has given birth to it, and will pursue the Golden Eye until its death. Metacreatures can kill simply by being manifested, and require a corpse as a host in order to take physical form. The birther of the Metacreature can survive separately from it, however, that person will most likely either go insane, or have their body destroyed from the strain.
Midnight Growth Rate: The development process of the unborn Metacreature. When its rate becomes unstable, it will manifest.
Pattern Thought Noises: Assumedly, the pattern of mental activity of the future birther of a Metacreature. Pattern A, B, and C types exist, although their differences are unknown.
Shadow Men: Although they possess roughly the same size and strength of a man, they can merge into darkness in an instant, and seeing one without supernatural means is nearly impossible. They are strictly non-sentient beings, existing solely to obey the whims of whomever controls them.
Suggestion Camouflage: A type of device that warps the perceptions of those around its user, to essentially render the subject invisible to anyone not related to the Society.
System Wallace: An omnipotent information network, it contains details of every individual and location in London, and records every letter, conversation, and telegram it detects. However, its information is strictly guarded, and only a highly advanced Engine Human could access it.
Zothique Equation: A plan meant to ally every faction of the Society, with the goal of taking control of and ultimately stopping time, in order to keep Britain eternally in power.
The Germanenorden: A group whose goal is to prevent certain historical events of the future from occuring, namely Adolf Hitler’s rise to power.
The Illuminati: Otherwise known as the Bavarian Enlightenment Society, it is a pseudo-scientific religious organization in support of the Society. Despite having originated in France, it controls all of the German underworld.
RAF: The Royal Air Force; a military faction which monopolizes the usage of all airborne Engine weaponry.
The Research Group: Founded by Josef Capek, it is a group consisting of prestigious members from the Royal College who conduct research into the occult, particularly seances.
The Society: Otherwise known as the West India Company or the Western Scholar Society. An endlessly vast criminal organization, it controls nearly every manner of crime, from the assassination of political figures, to monopolizing the drug and illegal Engine Machine trade on the black market.
Ten Scholars: A group of individuals who are considered the leaders of the Society.
Three Professors: A subdivision of people within the Ten Scholars, who are given complete authority. All but one of them are deceased.
Ada Lovelace: One of the Ten Scholars and a revolutionary engineer of new Engine technology, she holds the title of Engine Empress.
Adam Weishaupt: The last remaining Professor, he designed the Society’s Prototype Production Model for Engine Humans, specifically Type Moran.
Althotas Thoth Hermes: The highest-ranking leader and founder of the Society.
Machine Lord: A man who had once murdered Moran, entirely destroying her previous body.
Marquis Costanzo: Weishaupt’s pawn. The leader the Illuminati.
Gates of Tartarus: The entrance to Sharnoth.
Sharnoth: A city of eternal darkness, it lies beyond the border of reality. A king and his castle are located there, but no other living creature dwells within it. The Metacreatures often take their unsuspecting prey into Sharnoth, in order to trap them.
The Black Tomb of Alsophocus by H.P. Lovecraft
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath by H.P. Lovecraft
The Silver Key by H.P. Lovecraft
The Adventure of the Empty House by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Final Problem by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Castle of the King by Bram Stoker
The Shadow Builder by Bram Stoker
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Allegory of the Cave by Plato