Archive for Steampunk
Ruby’s Bookish Bundles is a new feature I’m starting here on the blog. In it, I’m going to post about three books:
- Want Now: One recently released or already published title I’m lusting after.
- Want Soon: One upcoming title I’m looking forward to, based on things I’ve heard, the cover, and the description.
- Want Someday: One upcoming title I’ve heard about that sounds like it could be interested but is so far off into the future it doesn’t even have a cover yet.
I love discovering new books, and I love sharing about the books I discover. However, I’ve been wanting to do something a little different from (and more involved than) a WoW post, so I created this new feature for myself. Anyone is welcome to participate, or to share their own wants. If you do so on your own blog, leave a link so I can visit!
Not too long ago, Andra Lynn, from Unabridged Andra, put out a general call for all those interested in Steampunk, either from the reader’s perspective or the authors. This is the second time she’s hosted this event, and last time, I volunteered to write a guest post and completely flaked. As I’m determined to make up for it this year (with a guest post about Steampunk Romance–my favorite subcategory), I’ve been doing a bit of research. Here are some titles that I’ve come across–and am very excited about!
I read The Iron Duke ages ago, and adored it. However, when Heart of Steel came out, I already had too much on my plate to pick it up. I’d really like to give it a go, as I loved Archimedes Fox when he appeared in the first book. Yasmeen, too!
The Iron Duke introduced the gritty, alluring adventure of the Iron Seas, where nanotech fuses with Victorian sensibilities—and steam.
As the mercenary captain of Lady Corsair, Yasmeen has learned to keep her heart as cold as steel, her only loyalty bound to her ship and her crew. So when a man who once tried to seize her airship returns from the dead, Yasmeen will be damned if she gives him another opportunity to take control.
Treasure hunter Archimedes Fox isn’t interested in Lady Corsair—he wants her coldhearted captain and the valuable da Vinci sketch she stole from him. To reclaim it, Archimedes is determined to seduce the stubborn woman who once tossed him to a ravenous pack of zombies, but she’s no easy conquest.
When da Vinci’s sketch attracts a dangerous amount of attention, Yasmeen and Archimedes journey to Horde-occupied Morocco—and straight into their enemy’s hands. But as they fight to save themselves and a city on the brink of rebellion, the greatest peril Yasmeen faces is from the man who seeks to melt her icy heart.
Crazily enough, the fact that The Friday Society is set in the Edwardian period is its greatest draw for me. I love the era! It definitely doesn’t get enough play. Already I’m imagining a cross between Downton Abbey and, I don’t know, Clockwork Angel.
An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns–and the heroines who use them allSet in Edwardian London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician’s assistant. The three young women’s lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.
It’s up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder–and the crimes they believe may be connected to it–without calling too much attention to themselves.
Told with Adrienne Kress’s sharp wit and a great deal of irreverence, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike–well, relatively ladylike–heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.
Of all the titles on this week’s Bookish Bundle, Legacy of the Clockwork Key excites me the most. I like the cover, and the description definitely sweeps me away. Too bad it doesn’t come out until spring of 2013!
A teen girl unravels the mysteries of a secret society and their most dangerous invention in this adventure-swept romance set in Victorian London.When a fire consumes Meg’s home, killing her parents and destroying both her fortune and her future, all she has left is the tarnished pocket watch she rescued from the ashes. But this is no ordinary timepiece. The clock turns out to be a mechanical key—a key that only Meg can use—that unlocks a series of deadly secrets and intricate clues that Meg is compelled to follow.Meg has uncovered evidence of an elite secret society and a dangerous invention that some will stop at nothing to protect—and that Meg alone can destroy. Together with the handsome stable hand she barely knows but hopes she can trust, Meg is swept into a hidden world of deception, betrayal, and revenge. The clockwork key has unlocked her destiny in this captivating start to a trilogy.
As always, feel free to recommend any titles you’ve come across, are waiting on, or have just plain piqued your interested, Steampunk or no!
Publication Date: August 1, 2012
Status: First in the Skylark series, to be followed by Shadowlark in 2013 and The Leaden Sky in 2014.
Source: Snagged at BEA.
Genre: Teen Dystopian, with hints of Steampunk and Magic
Other Info: This is Spooner’s debut. This year, she will also be publishing These Broken Stars, a Teen Science Fiction novel she co-authored with Amie Kaufman.
Description and link from Goodreads):
These days, Dystopians are a dime a dozen. Sometimes, when I’m surfing Goodreads, looking for new titles, I almost hope to find a zombie story. Er, kidding. Sort of. Anyway, I find Dystopians increasingly difficult to get into. After a while, everything starts to feel samey. When I started Skylark, I thought it was going to be one of those Dystopians. Right off the bat, it reminded me of Enclave, by Ann Aguirre. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for the action to spin off in a new direction, to catch me up in its whirlwind and carry me away in its story.
Skylark has a number of familiar Dystopian elements. There is a corrupt government that exploits its people, and lies and misleads them. There are cannibal/zombies. The population goes hungry while the PTB grows plump with their spoils. There’s lots of talk about what’s good for the population at large. What’s a little bit different is the quality of the narration, and the element of Steampunk that she injects into her world-building. As an added bonus, Spooner’s ability to bring the reader into her setting is remarkable. I had clear visual images of Skylark’s ruined world, particularly the Iron Wood.
The heroine–whose name, delightfully, is Lark–was less enjoyable. For the first part of the book, she’s mistrustful, whiny and squeamish. Never mind that I’d probably be the same way. This isfiction, y’all, and I expect my MCs to have more backbone than I will ever possess. I think my frustration with Lark was based on one major thing: She doesn’t trust Oren, the wild boy who saves her from certain death. She gets all judgy and turns up her nose at his attempts to feed her, to help her survive. I (and I say this with my nose thrust firmly in the air) loved Oren from the start. Lark was just a little late to the party, though she arrives in the end. Is it too late? You’ll have to answer that one for yourself.
I mentioned that Skylark has Steampunk elements. Besides the large machines endemic to Steampunk tales, Skylark also has a small shapeshifting machine called a pixie. Originally designed to be spies for the corrupt government, Lark eventually gains one as a follower. This pixie–ultimately named Nix–is maybe good and maybe bad, but all fun. The parts where it tries to resemble a bee tickled me pink. I love small companion creatures–like Gogu fromWildwood Dancing and thePerspicacious Loris from the Leviathan books.
Skylark ends with a couple of surprises–some predictable and some not–but mostly leaves me with a desire to read whatever comes next in this series. I’m excited to be able to see another city in Lark’s ruined world. I like to think about how cities and cultures grow when they’re isolated from one another, so I can’t wait to follow Lark further on her journey. I’ll make it to 2013–but just barely!
Small and I had numerous discussions during the planning period of the Historical Fantasy Jubilee (although we got off topic more often than we stayed on it), and one of the things that came up was: Is Steampunk Historical Fantasy? Before Small and I talked about it, I would have said no. I tend to think of Steampunk as more Science Fiction than Fantasy, but as our discussion went on, I began to change my mind a little. And here are my thoughts.
First, there’s straight Steampunk. Take Airborn by Kenneth Oppel. The setting is inspired by the 1930′s and 40′s, so it’s definitely got that historical flavor. The only fantasy here, however, is the magic of a different kind of science. In Oppel’s world, giant dirigibles fly with the help of a special kind of gas called “hydrium,” which is lighter than air. There’s no magic involved, no werewolves, no vampires or other magical creatures. Therefore, we can’t count it as Historical Fantasy.
Other examples include:
- The Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld
- The Iron Seas series by Meljean Brook
- The Iron Codex books by Caitlin Kittredge
- Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
- The Native Star books by M.K. Hobson
- The Steampunk Chronicles by Kady Cross (I haven’t read these, but my understanding is that there’s a magical element.)
So, what do you think? Am I way off base? Do you think my categories are bunk? Did I classify something incorrectly? Or maybe you have some examples to suggest? Feel free to share!
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: September 20, 2011
Status: The third and final book in the Leviathan trilogy, following Leviathan and Behemoth.
Source: Received for review via Simon & Schuster’s GalleyGrab.
Genre: Teen Steampunk
Location: Lots of places
Other Info: Scott Westerfeld also wrote the Uglies series, the Midnighters, Peeps, So Yesterday, among others.
Description (from Goodreads):
It’s been a while since I’ve read Steampunk, and probably longer since I’ve reviewed any. Scott Westerfeld is definitely the writer to make me question why this is so. I love the combination of technologies–both mechanical and biological–that are at war in this series. It’s truly a unique addition to the genre, and I’m sorry to see the end of it.
Scott Westerfeld is a genius at world-building. This series has, in part, reminded me once or twice of Kenneth Oppel’s Airborn in that both books feature a character more comfortable in the air than on the ground. But each author takes the concept of a dirigible, and runs with it in an entirely different direction. If you haven’t read Airborn, by the way, you can’t really call yourself a fan of Steampunk. Joking–you can, but it’s a book you shouldn’t miss.
I don’t know how I managed to let another book hijack my review of Goliath. I’m just not sure what I want to say about this book. It flowed brilliantly during the first three quarters and I was glued to my computer screen–and I hate reading on the computer. However: the end didn’t quite satisfy me. As much as I loved the Steampunk aspect of the story, and even found the action bits pretty compelling, the center of this book was Alek and Deryn’s relationship. Oh, hold on a second. This is probably a good time to insert:
In Leviathan, we met the cast. In Behemoth, we got to know them a little better, and in Goliath we follow them to the end of their journey. Was I sastified by the ending? Yes and no. It’s got a happy ending–the ending I wanted–but I realized, on reaching the last page, that there were some elements that I didn’t like.
As I mentioned, the element of the story that I followed most keenly was the romance. Without being conscious of what I was doing, I was hoping that Deryn would have a chance to be female. For her to wear women’s clothing, and to be treated as a woman. Without it, the novel is incomplete for me. I’m not saying that Deryn needed to be more feminine in order for the romance to work, but that I wished that she had had a chance of it. It’s not supposed to be important–Alek loves Deryn the way she is–but I still wanted to see it.
Also, I was irritated to discover that Dr. Barlow didn’t know that Deryn was a girl. I think we were led to believe that she did and my emotional, sulky self felt that Westerfeld did this on purpose. And not in a fun, “Aw, snap!” kind of way. But I may be influenced by the fact that some of Scott Westerfeld’s tweets suggest the man has a healthy ego. Which brings me to the most interesting point of my review–how much did my opinion of the author influence my opinion of the book. Dude, you might as well ask me that chicken-or-the-egg question because I sure as shootin’ don’t know.
I’ll be curious to know what my fellow Leviathan trilogy fans think of Goliath. Yeah, Logan. I’m looking at you.
Publishers: Carina Press
Publication Date: December 13, 2010
Status: Stand alone
Genre: Steampunk Romance
Location: London, England
Other Info: Bonnie Dee is the author of many other titles from fantasy to contemporary romance.
Description (from the author’s website):
Contains murder, mayhem, espionage, inventions, romance and steam.
Victoria Waters is a woman ahead of her time, part of a team of scientists that created working automatons. She intended the machines to replace human laborers in dangerous occupations, but the original project idea mushroomed beyond her expectations. The mechanical people have replaced all types of workers, putting much of the lower class out of work.
Dash is a man who has lived a life of poverty in one of the worst slums in London. Only the intervention of a kindly mentor taught him to use his keen mind. He is part of a subversive group called the Brotherhood which speaks against the influx of automatons. To draw attention to their cause they plan to kidnap Victoria and hold her ransom until their demand for representation on the Commission for Animatronic Affairs is met.
Dash soon finds his captive is on the same page in her beliefs and willing to help the Brotherhood reach their goal. But when the Whitechapel Butcher strikes again, murdering a woman who was close to Dash, he and Victoria’s relationship abruptly changes. They become close very quickly, sharing personal history and discovering a mutual attraction.
Danger looms as Victoria learns more from a colleague about the Commission and their long term agenda for the automatons. Romance blooms as Dash and Victoria grow closer. And death threatens when Victoria comes face to face with the Southwark Slasher.
I got this book from NetGalley and so I was able to read it for free, so I am determined not to complain too much. Steampunk Romance is a subgenre I am happy to get behind, so I jumped at this title when I found it on NetGalley. I hadn’t heard a peep about it on the blogosphere and had no idea what to expect. One thing I found was that Like Clockwork is more novella than book. I read it on my spanking new Kindle so I can’t tell you the page count. Suffice to say, it’s very short.
Like Clockwork tells the story of Victoria Waters, lady scientist. Victoria was raised to her father’s son and daughter, all at once. This means that she was able to become a successful scientist in a time when ladies were expected to be mothers and wives. It’s a common theme in Victorian fiction, so you can’t be surprised. Victoria’s role in a group of scientists that made automatons in order to replace workers in dangerous jobs (i.e., mining) has resulted in a great deal of job loss and poverty for the poor. More directly, it leads her to be kidnapped by a man who is fighting for the rights of the underclass, a man named Dash.
Dash’s kidnapping of Victoria doesn’t turn out the way he planned. Unexpectedly, he finds that Victoria is willing to support his cause. In fact, she had planned on speaking to a committee about the very issue of worker’s rights when he kidnapped her. Now, I don’t particularly have a problem with kidnap plotlines, but it doesn’t work in a novella. Victoria is never afraid of the man who chloroformed her and brought her to a bizarre underground world in order to further his cause. She is almost immediately attracted to Dash, and he to her. The swiftness with which both characters succumb to lust had me rolling my eyes. Especially since Victoria was supposed to be at once “sheltered” and a well-educated scientist.
Dee also fails to capture the flavor of Victorian London. Victoria, for example, never wears gloves. For some reason this really, really bothered me. It stuck out like a red flag. Sure, the characters ride in carriages and Victoria wears her hair in intricate hairstyles and wears fancy dresses, but everything else was lip service. The social mores of the time? Mentioned, but quickly forgotten. The idea of an upper class woman marrying a man who started life as a thief? Quickly resolved and really not much of an obstacle in the end.The short length of the novel means that everything happens too fast, in particular the resolutions. They came too easy for this reader to enjoy.
The worst offense this novel perpetrated was the ending. It skips ahead five months. Victoria and Dash have their happily ever after and hop into bed together. We miss out on their first time together. After all the tension that was built up in the first part of the book, the next time we see them is after months of marriage. It was kind of like Dee wanted to skip the “Victoria’s first time” scene. In the epilogue, Dash has had an opportunity to teach Victoria all about the delights of the bedchamber. I felt both cheated and bored.
I didn’t hate this novel. It didn’t offend me in any way. The writing wasn’t great, by far the worst thing the author did was make it so short. On the other hand, it was an ambitious story, and the author wasn’t able to pull it off what she did write, so length might not be the answer. I’ll have to look for my Steampunk Romance somewhere else.