There’s a Steampunk display on in my local bookshop at the moment, how was I supposed to resist? Especially when this one, shouts Steampunk! at me so nicely; along with it’s wonderfully intriguing full title: Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories…
No, I couldn’t resist either. I knew you’d understand!
In the first major YA steampunk anthology, fourteen top storytellers push the genre’s mix of sci-fi fantasy, history, and adventure in fascinating new directions.
Imagine an alternate universe where romance and technology reign. Where tinkerers and dreamers craft and re-craft a world of automatons, clockworks, calculating machines, and other marvels that never were.
Here, fourteen masters of speculative fiction, including two graphic storytellers, embrace the steampunk genre’s established themes and refashion them in surprising ways and settings as diverse as Appalachia, Ancient Rome, future Australia, and alternate California.
The result is an anthology that defies its genre even as it defines it.
– Publisher’s Blurb
For the most part, this was a pretty strong collection of stories (although a couple of them, struggle to justify the Steampunk tag, including Kelly Link’s: The Summer People, which while an enjoyable story (and in another collection, would be one of the stronger stories), it was about serving a household of fae, and didn’t have any steampunk elements at all, as far as could see. Doubly disappointing as Kelly is one of the editors of the collection…
The two weakest stories for me were the two comics Shawn Chengs: Seven Days Beset by Demons and Kathleen Jennings’: Finishing School. They made nice diversions in the collection, but compared to the story telling available elsewhere in the collection (even in those not quite steampunk), they did feel like something missing.
My favourite story by far, (and actually the first one I read) was Steamgirl by Dylan Horrocks, it was both a simple story of a boy and girl becoming friends and then maybe more, but there was another story woven into it that the girl tells the boy, about the heroine Steamgirl. Is it just s story the girl made up, or is it a little more? Both the story elements work really well, and the two main characters are really likeable.
Another really strong story, was Cory Doctorow’s: Clockwork Fagin, as the title suggests this one starts off as a story about orphans and street urchins, being used for nefarious means, by someone meant to be looking after them, but then one of the new lads leads them to take over the orphanage, killing their evil master and replacing him with an automaton. Can they lead themselves to a better life? It’s a really satisfying little tale.
As a collection, I really liked it, while the good do ‘carry’ some of the more middling tales, that’s always going to be the case in an anthology. I also may have liked a stronger Steampunk filter applied to a couple of the stories, that’s also balanced out by the fact I did quite enjoy them.
So, all in all, it’s definitely worth getting hold of a copy for yourself!
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