domingo, 22 de julho de 2012

Steampunk! - An anthology of fantastically rich and strange stories

This book is for the Steampunk Reading Challenge, hosted by Dark Faerie Tales.

My thoughts: Reading this anthology made me realize a few things. Number One, it's a very bad idea to try to read an anthology during work days, because I don't have much time and short stories require I am much more invested in them, despite the shorter span. In the weekend my reading flowed much more smoothly.

Number Two, it's interesting to read about how different people write about a theme (and sometimes write around it too). Even though I'm a sucker for worldbuilding (and nothing begs more for worldbuilding than steampunk), if the story is good, I might overlook the fact that there isn't much steampunk in it. But if the story sucks, throwing a flying zeppelin in, or something like that, will not save you from the fact that the story sucks. (Fortunately only a couple of stories fit this bill.)

That said, it was an interesting anthology, with a variety of themes and writers, of times and spaces. I wish some stories were more true to the anthology's theme, after all it is why I bought the book - but only one story truly disappointed me, so I would say this a satisfying read overall.

Some Fortunate Future Day, Cassandra Clare
Too short to properly explore the theme. There was a paradox about time travelling I would have like to see better explored. Not much steampunkish.

The Last Ride of the Glory Girls, Libba Bray
Loved it. Libba Bray has a fantastic imagination and I was captivated by the Glory Girls and by Addie's narration (I even read the story with an accent in my mind). The steampunkish themes are well explored and tie well with the western tone. Besides, this was the inspiration for the cover, and that says something.

Clockwork Fagin, Cory Doctorow
This one explores more the clockwork part of steampunk. I liked it, it was a fun tale of kids at a disadvantage taking control of their destinies.

Seven Days Beset by Demons, Shawn Cheng
A comic tale. I liked the concept, but it missed something. I wasn't a big fan of the art.

Hand in Glove, Ysabeau S. Wilce
This was such a crazy story (in a good way). It shows the "mad science" angle in steampunk, and it has some awesome humorous moments. I'd like to read more about Constable Etreyo's endeavours,

The Ghost of Cwmlech Manor, Delia Sherman
A cute story that blends well the ghost story with the steampunk. It just didn't make my favourites, I thought it lacked something.

Gethsemane, Elizabeth Knox
The WTF short story of this anthology. I just couldn't understand what was going on. The writing was confusing and it was too much descriptive. I couldn't care for the characters, despite what was going on. There was just no passion in the story. I'm sure I missed the biblical references, and the moral ending fell short. Besides, steampunk isn't just sticking a zeppelin in the middle of the story.

The Summer People, Kelly Link
Another tale that breaks the anthology's theme, which is hilarious coming from one of the anthology's editors. (I'm sorry, but the trinkets by the summer people are not steampunk.) I chose to overlook it because the tale itself was properly creppy and with quite an atmosphere. But the ending was a bit anti-climatic.

Peace in Our Time, Garth Nix
This was a pretty good story, which shows you can do so much with so few pages. The author managed to introduce steampunk well, and mix it with some post-apocalyptic tones. It was chilling, to realize what had happened in the past.

Nowhere Fast, Christopher Rowe
This isn't steampunk either, but it was interesting enough for me not to care. It shows a plausible future for the Earth, and the ending just promises more.

Finishing School, Kathleen Jennings
Another comic tale. I liked it and its striving, chase-your-dream themes. The art is quite dynamic, even in black and white.

Steam Girl, Dylan Horrocks
Not steampunk literally, but in spirit. A bit of a sad story, but it made me very curious about the adventures of Steam Girl. Also, I'd like to know whatever happened to the main characters.

Everything Amiable and Obliging, Holly Black
Strangely enough, the only Victorian-ish tale. I loved it. It conveys the right amount of propriety, and all things amiable and obliging. It shows a side of steampunk and automatons I'd never considered, and it is well explored. I wish I could read more about this world and these characters, written by Holly.

The Oracle Engine, M.T. Anderson
Ha! Who would have though Romans were steampunk too? And it worked so well. What a fun story, especially when dealing with the themes of fate and self-fulfilling predictions.

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