Book Review: Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories

From Goodreads:

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. Where scientists and schoolgirls, fair folk and Romans, intergalactic bandits, utopian revolutionaries, and intrepid orphans solve crimes, escape from monstrous predicaments, consult oracles, and hover over volcanoes in steam-powered airships. Here, fourteen masters of speculative fiction, including two graphic storytellers, embrace the genre’s established themes and refashion them in surprising ways and settings as diverse as Appalachia, ancient Rome, future Australia, and alternate California. Visionaries Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant have invited all-new explorations and expansions, taking a genre already rich, strange, and inventive in the extreme and challenging contributors to remake it from the ground up. The result is an anthology that defies its genre even as it defines it.

                       

This imaginative and original book served as a great introduction to the ‘Steampunk’ genre. From what I understand, ‘Steampunk’ refers to old science, and 1800s England. After reading through the book, machines, clocks, alternate universes, and scientists played a big role in the 14 stories.  Of the 14 stories, there are 12 in text and 2 in graphic format. All stories are by different beloved authors, including Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. Obviously every reader will have his or her own favourites. My top picks are:

*** Cory Doctorow’s Clockwork Fagin—about limbless and mutilated orphans injured by steam-powered machines that kill their evil master and replace him with an automaton.

**Libba Bray’s The Last Ride of the Glory Girls—about a gang of girls that use clockwork to stop time and rob trains.

Unfortunately, I found that the majority of stories were just a tad too long and boring for me. They didn’t keep my attention and I found myself skimming through them—especially the graphic comics. I appreciate the attempt to blend formats and offer the reader a break from the text, but they were just blah. However, I am glad I read this anthology to get a sampling of what Steampunk has to offer. I am now familiar with the genre and can recommend this book to those interested in experiencing Steampunk writing.

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