Turn-of-the-Century Toughs is a cycle of alternate history novels by Dusk Peterson about disreputable men on the margins of society, and the men and women who love them. The novels and stories are set in an alternative universe version of America between the 1880s and 1910s. One of the series within the Toughs cycle, Waterman, is set in a retrofuture: the future as imagined in the early 1960s.
The cycle is made up of five novel series and a short fiction series: The Eternal Dungeon, Life Prison, Commando, Michael's House, Waterman, and Dark Light. The Eternal Dungeon and Life Prison are set in prisons in the late nineteenth century. Commando imagines what the South African Boer War would have been like if it occurred in an alternative version of America. Michael's House is set in a 1910s house of male prostitution. Waterman (which includes science fiction elements), is set primarily in two locations: a 1910s-style boarding school and a retrofuturistic prison. Dark Light collects short fiction from the above series.
The setting for the cycle ("the Midcoast nations") is inspired by the geography and history of the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States of America. Waterman is inspired by historical events in the Maryland region of the Chesapeake Bay.
The stories focus primarily on male friendship and gay romance, although friendship and romance between men and women play a role in the tales. The gay romance ranges from sweet romance to erotic romance. The heterosexual romance is sweet.
Stories in the series Michael's House have been serialized by the original slash MAS-Zine, which has also published two stories from the Eternal Dungeon series. Novels and short stories from the cycle are published as e-books, with online previews, and as online fiction.