Archive for the ‘Steampunk’ Category

Timeless

June 18, 2012 - 5:49 pm No Comments

Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Orbit
Page count: 328pp
Release date: 1st March 2012
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Following on between one and two years after the fourth instalment in the Parasol Protectorate, Timeless sees toddler Prudence, daughter of Connall and Alexia Maccon dashing about and causing all manner of mayhem through her preternatural state. After the agreement come to at the conclusion of the previous novel, the Maccons reside in Lord Akledama’s third closet using a bridge between their own home and his to sneak in, so as to keep up appearances and appease the vampire community. For Connal is a werewolf, his wife is a metanatural who ‘sucks’ the powers from supernaturals and Akledama is a foppish vampire running a house full of ‘drones’.
This happy household receives a visit from Sidheag Maccon, Alpha werewolf who is missing her werewolf Beta, last seen in Egypt, and is asking for Lord Maccon’s help. At the same time, Vampire Queen Matakara has requested that the Maccons deliver young Prudence, the abomination, to Egypt, so the vampire queen can meet her.

As with all of this series, it isn’t the plot that matters. These novels are more comedy of manners, meets paranormal romance without the sex, with a dash of Steampunk, than anything, which make them jolly good fun, even laugh out loud at times. And with the antics the bluestocking Lady Maccon gets up to this time, there is plenty to keep the reader amused.

Definitely worth a look.

Boneshaker

June 16, 2012 - 8:21 pm No Comments

Author: Cherie Priest
Publisher: Tor
Page count/Size: 416pp
Release date: 2009
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin
Brimming with historical integrity (though Priest does admit to playing around with dates), Boneshaker is a Steampunk novel set in Seattle following a gold rush in the Klondikes.

Inventor Leviticus Blue is commissioned to create a new invention, the Boneshaker, a massive drill to help get to the gold buried deep within the ice. On its first use it all goes horribly wrong as the drill breaks through the ground releasing a gas, the Blight, which permeates Seattle turning its citizens into the living dead. The city of Seattle is swiftly walled up along with its dead.

Fifteen years later, Blue’s widow Briar Wilkes lives in poverty with her son Zeke on the Outskirts. Taking it upon himself to find out more about his father, Zeke runs away into the walled up city and Briar soon follows him to get him home safe.

The Blight district is filled with a myriad of interesting characters including giant Swakhammer, one armed Lucy O’gunning and the strange and powerful Dr Minneracht, who some believe to be Levi Blue. The walled city is also filled with a number of rotters (zombies).

Priest is an engaging and talented writer. Her characters are fully fledged, Briar is a strong and forceful woman and the action is plentiful. Like most modern Steampunk, this is a historical action adventure that keeps the pages turning. Well worth a look.

Infernal Devices

June 2, 2012 - 12:04 pm No Comments

Author: K W Jeter
Publisher: Angry Robot
Page count/Size: 348pp
Release date: 7th April 2011
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Written in an authentic first person Nineteenth Century writing style, Infernal Devices is on of the original and seminal Steampunk texts by K W Jeter, famous for coining the phrase Steampunk.

In this adventurous novel, full of polite British humour, we meet Mr Dower who has inherited his father’s business attempting to create and repair infernal devices. The character referred to as the ‘brown leather man’ comes to Dower’s watchmaker repair shop in Clerkenwell London asking Dower to fix one of his father’s devices.

That evening, criminal Scape and his female accomplice attempt to steal the device from Dower’s shop. Scape and Miss McThane both use modern contemporary speech, alerting the reader to more going on than appears on the surface. We also have in play, the Ladies Union for Suppression of Carnal Vice, which, in Jeff Vandemeers excellent Afterword, he describes as “both hilarious and all too true to the spirit of the age.”

Permeated with dark humour and social critique, Infernal Devices is a fantastic foray into early Steampunk, re-released by Angry Robot.

Getting Steamy

June 1, 2012 - 2:17 pm No Comments

As well as my usual promised reviews by publishers such as Solaris and Angry Robot, and my aim to ensure gender parity in the books I review, through June and July I am getting all steamy and reviewing lots of Steampunk novels. I’ll be introducing readers to the early Steampunk writers; K W Jeter, James P Blaylock and Tim Powers whilst also reviewing works by authors such as Cherie Priest, Gail Carriger, Raven Dane, Ekaterina Sedia and Karin Lowachee.

You will also have the opportunity to read one of my Steampunk stories for free, which will later be released in my new anthology Monsters Anonymous. So let’s just put some gears on it, and gear yourselves up for Steampunk Specials this summer! To start with, I am reviewing the Mammoth Book of Steampunk, to get you in the mood. Enjoy!

Mammoth Book of Steampunk
Author: (Ed) Sean Wallace
Publisher: Robinson
Page count/Size: 512pp
Release date: 5th April 2012
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

With an introduction by Ekaterina Sedia, which talks about Steampunk in culture and giving a voice to those who were oppressed, the Mammoth Book of Steampunk is not your usual foray into this genre. Featuring a plethora of good solid stories by a number of talented writers, many recognised in the genre, this collection is a must have for Steampunk fans.

This anthology challenges the Steampunk tropes, also utilising them to powerful effect, to create new and exciting premises. There are so many stories I could mention here, and as with all anthologies, a number of stories that fall short, so I shall be picky and tell you about these few!
In ‘The Steam Dancer (1896) by Caitlin R Kiernan, the female protagonist is found with her leg consumed by gangrene. Her limbs are therefore replaced by mechanical parts and she becomes a dancer at a local inn. The story highlights the degradation of the period, which is rife whereas the dance makes her feel whole and alive.

‘The Zeppelin Conductor’s Society Annual Gentleman’s Ball’ by Genevieve Valentine is a strange tale, which uses structure and different narrative forms to wonderful effect in order to make the reader aware of the realities of Victorian life.

‘The Clockwork Fairies’ by Cat Rambo is a fun take, which is darkly ironic and features heroine Desiree, a mulatto scientist with a rather deluded fiancé who believes that “clever machines were simply a way to channel her maternal instinct”. This story deals with the truth of race issues during the period, as does ‘The Effluent Engine’ by N K Jemisin, set in New Orleans featuring a black female spy and scientist. This one, whilst sharing its political agenda also discusses race issues whilst delivering an adventure that is great fun, passionate and intelligent.

With stories by Aliette de Bodard and Lavie Tidhar, we also have regular genre contributors who also deliver a new spin on the genre.

The thing that makes this collection essential, is that it focuses on telling the story of the realities of Victorian life throughout the globe. As Sedia pits it, it gives a voice to the oppressed. If you’re looking for harmless, easy going Steampunk that does not challenge you, go elsewhere. If you want to be challenged and you want to think of these stories long after the collection is finished, then this is the book for you!

Steampunk Double Bill

March 7, 2012 - 11:46 pm No Comments

If you like your Steampunk, check out these two fun titles recently released.


Author: Lavie Tidhar
Publisher: Angry Robot
Page count: 416pp
Release date: 2nd Feb 2012
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

The third instalment of The Bookman Histories, The Great Game is perhaps the wildest of the trilogy. In a vivid Steampunk environment, the novel continues the series as The Bookman attempts to insidiously overthrow the royalty of the British Empire, who in this series happen to be lizards, possibly from another planet. A number of spies work against him to thwart his plans; and what a collection of characters they are!

From Prime Minister, to petty thieves, to government employees and the hierarchy of ‘Victorian’ society, the characters are a ‘who is who’ from 19th century fiction and historical fact. We have Bram Stoker, Lucy Westenra, Harry Houdini and Mycroft Holmes. And that’s just for starters.

Smith, an expert operative is cajoled out of retirement from ‘The Village’ in order to investigate the deaths of two former operatives; his ex beloved Alice & the infamous Mycroft Holmes. At the same time a strange observer wonders the globe ‘collecting’ samples from various characters. Smith is hunted throughout the novel as he jumps from ‘car’ chase to airship chase and Lucy Westenra, sent on a similar mission also finds herself ducking for her life. And whilst we’re at it, what are those giant tripods trampling throughout Paris on the Champ de Mars?

Tidhar’s world is energetic and a tad confusing as he switches from points of view and narrative styles, but nevertheless it is a thoroughly fun book and a lively adventure. It is a literary visual feast, if that isn’t an oxymoron, and is worth investing your time and money in to join the adventure.

Come and play The Great Game with Lavie Tidhar.

For your next dose of Steampunk you could no worse than Timeless, the 5th Parasol Protectorate novel.


Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Orbit
Page count: 328pp
Release date: 1st March 2012
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Following on between one and two years after the fourth instalment in the Parasol Protectorate, Timeless sees toddler Prudence, daughter of Connall and Alexia Maccon dashing about and causing all manner of mayhem through her preternatural state. After the agreement come to at the conclusion of the previous novel, the Maccons reside in Lord Akledama’s third closet using a bridge between their own home and his to sneak in, so as to keep up appearances and appease the vampire community. For Connal is a werewolf, his wife is a metanatural who ‘sucks’ the powers from supernaturals and Akledama is a foppish vampire running a house full of ‘drones’.

This happy household receives a visit from Sidheag Maccon, Alpha werewolf who is missing her werewolf Beta, last seen in Egypt, and is asking for Lord Maccon’s help. At the same time, Vampire Queen Matakara has requested that the Maccons deliver young Prudence, the abomination, to Egypt, so the vampire queen can meet her.

As with all of this series, it isn’t the plot that matters. These novels are more comedy of manners, meets paranormal romance without the sex, with a dash of Steampunk, than anything, which make them jolly good fun, even laugh out loud at times. And with the antics the bluestocking Lady Maccon gets up to this time, there is plenty to keep the reader amused.

Definitely worth a look.