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The main character is very poor and lives with his dying mother. He cannot afford a metal arm until he gets hired by someone in the government to help him get elected. He works as one of his secretaries and falls in love with one of the other secretaries, and it turns out she's actually a spy to watch the evil official. He plays that he is the protagonist until it turns out he is actually the evil one and betrays the main character.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. When did you read this? Do you recall any character or place names? Any details of the cover art?
    – DavidW
    Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 22:00
  • Interesting how pessimistic (and maybe a characteristic of cyberpunk) such fiction often/always(?) is -- I am reminded of Elysium where despite very versatile robots, which should be a way out of needing people to live in poverty so they will be willing to do dirty jobs, people nonetheless live in poverty and have even worse (or no) jobs than they have in the US anyway today.
    – releseabe
    Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 13:45

2 Answers 2

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Could this be (at least a partial match) to Bio of a Space Tyrant by Piers Anthony. This series has 6 books, published between 1983 and 2001.

The series follows the life of Hope Hubris (terrible name) and (at least the first 3-4) written as an autobiography attempting to clear his name. It follows Hopes path from refugee to space navy hero (loses an arm, replaced with metal IIRC), to politician and finally president.

I don't recall, from reading the series well over 20 years ago, any steam punk, other than the use of trains as a system of travelling around on the election campaign. Exactly what these trains are, set in a future space colony, I don't recall.

I think he is betrayed, rather than the betrayer, and ends up imprisoned for some reason I don't recall.

Features that match: Metal arm, works in politics, betrayal (direction of betrayal?).

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Possibly The Protectorate Wars by S.A. Shaffer?

From this user review of the first book, Born Hero:

This is the story that takes place in a mythical land “of vast wealth and power, towering mountains and lush plains ….a bastion of hope between sweltering deserts and the raging ocean.” Within this land are individual countries that have been peaceful for a number of years but now unrest again is arising both within the countries and among them producing further tensions. The protagonist, David Ike, is a very young man who is the son and grandson of heroic pilots who are legends as saviors of the country in which he lives. Presently, his circumstances are rather dire. His father was killed heroically saving the boy and his mother in a disastrous air crash and his illustrious grandfather passed away shortly thereafter. He lost an arm in the crash and the bionic replacement, although quite adequate, precludes continuing his air cadet training. Responsible for his mother’s care, an invalid unable even to speak, he is her caretaker and ekes out a meager living until by routine mandatory public testing, it is discovered that he is of superior intelligence and is hired by one of the major representatives in the country’s parliament. Unfortunately, David is a quite naive, sincere individual with a strong work ethic and a strong belief in principles. As a result, from this initiating step, he is poorly fitted to be involved in the political arena replete with maneuvering that involves deceit, distrust, betrayal, treachery and even murder.

There are, so far, only two books, but it's a hero with a biomechanical arm, it's steampunk, he's poor, he works as an aide in politics, and there's betrayal going on.

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    Please edit your answer to explain how this suggested work fits the question. Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 4:31
  • There are actually 3 books now. The newest was released November of 2022. a.co/d/1PntJ8k
    – PapaGrizz
    Commented Sep 29, 2023 at 12:40

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