I apologize for a few days off from the ‘book of the day’ series. Back on track today, we have Anti-Ice by Stephen Baxter, which is more in the mold of Verne than any other Steampunk novel I know. The eponymous substance comes from a comet that impacted the moon many centuries earlier (thereby creating a second moon), and is discovered in Antarctica by Josiah Traveller, your basic Victorian millionaire inventor. What makes anti-ice interesting is that it releases massive amounts of energy when warmed. The military implications are quickly explored by the British government in the Crimean War, but by the late 1800s it is being used to fuel all manner of industrialization. The nuclear energy subtext is not buried very deeply, but the exploration of this sort of fuel in the 19th century is what drives the story. Throw in a trip to the moons and the start of an early cold war and you have yourself quite an adventure.

Official description (such as it is):

Discovering a new element, Anti-Ice, a mysterious substance that unleashes vast energies when warmed, a millionaire industrialist dreams of power from an item that promises world peace–or world destruction.

For a fuller (but spoiler-filled) description, see the Anti-Ice Wikipedia page.

Reviews

This is not a new book, and it is sadly out of print at this point, but reviews can still be found of it:

Relevant links and comments are always welcome.