Happy International Steampunk Day!

Happy International Steampunk Day!

Since it is the day for Steampunkyness and since I have two steampunk books to reveiw….and since I often have steampunk stuff on this blog, I though it was an opportune moment to post the reviews.

First, there is the Steampunk Bible, Jeff Vandermeer and S. J. Chambers.

“The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature”
If you want to know about Steampunk, this is the go-to book. It covers the subject pretty well, from books to movies and tv, graphic novels to clothing, music to Makers. Basic history of the genre and even tipping the top hat to some of the sub-subgenres like Boilerpunk, Gaslight Romance, Clockpunk and Dieselpunk. The latter is, I would contend, not a subgenre at all, but I would whole heartedly agree with this quote:
Dieselpunk is “a heresy in which diesel fuel and nuclear power replace steam power in alternate histories that often have a political component” (pg 54).
Yup. Heresy.
Additionally, there is a section on Makerism as well and that’s good, since one of the significant contributors to the readily recognizable aesthetic of steampunk, Jake von Slatt, is definitely in the Maker culture. Good photos of some of his work as well–including the famous laptop computer and, one of my favorites, altered altoid tins!
In all, excellent!
Then there is a brand new anthology that is as of yet unpublished but will be released in October. This was a galley that City Lights kindly shared with me–thank you muchly!

“Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories”
This is a collection of short stories that spans the gamut of steampunk lit. It definitely pushes some boundaries and some would not fall neatly or squarely into a particular category (or sub-subgenre 😉  ).  There are witches, child murderers and orphans, visions and fanatics, ghosts and frankenstine creations. There’s a sort of cop noir story from Ysabeau Wilce that had a pretty vivid and curious twist half way through and left me wondering what would happen in the ‘next episode’. An allegorical graphic novela by Shawn Cheng about the seven deadly sins is in there, one of two graphic stories, and I quite enjoyed it. But I have to say that the Libba Bray story is worth twice the price of admission! It was an adventure and delight!
Only one story fell a bit flat for me, mostly because it seemed to be a little like the Flash Forward tv series. which wasn’t written to end so abruptly, so there were entire spaghetti tangles of loose ends. This one story seemed to be originally intended for a novel or novella and left an uncomfortable number of untied lines flopping about in my mind.
All in all, though, I recommend it with confidence.
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International Steampunk Day

Happy International Steampunk Day!

Since it is the day for Steampunkyness and since I have two steampunk books to reveiw….and since I often have steampunk stuff on one of my other blogs, I though it was an opportune moment to post the reviews.

First, there is the Steampunk Bible, Jeff Vandermeer and S. J. Chambers.

“The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature”
If you want to know about Steampunk, this is the go-to book. It covers the subject pretty well, from books to movies and tv, graphic novels to clothing, music to Makers. Basic history of the genre and even tipping the top hat to some of the sub-subgenres like Boilerpunk, Gaslight Romance, Clockpunk and Dieselpunk. The latter is, I would contend, not a subgenre at all, but I would whole heartedly agree with this quote:
Dieselpunk is “a heresy in which diesel fuel and nuclear power replace steam power in alternate histories that often have a political component” (pg 54).
Yup. Heresy.
.
Additionally, there is a section on Makerism as well and that’s good, since one of the significant contributors to the readily recognizable aesthetic of steampunk, Jake von Slatt, is definitely in the Maker culture. Good photos of some of his work as well–including the famous laptop computer and, one of my favorites, altered altoid tins!
In all, excellent!
.
.
.
Then there is a brand new anthology that is as of yet unpublished but will be released in October. This was a galley that City Lights kindly shared with me–thank you muchly!

“Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories”
This is a collection of short stories that spans the gamut of steampunk lit. It definitely pushes some boundaries and some would not fall neatly or squarely into a particular category (or sub-subgenre 😉 ). There are witches, child murderers and orphans, visions and fanatics, ghosts and frankenstine creations. There’s a sort of cop noir story from Ysabeau Wilce that had a pretty vivid and curious twist half way through and left me wondering what would happen in the ‘next episode’. An allegorical graphic novela by Shawn Cheng about the seven deadly sins is in there, one of two graphic stories, and I quite enjoyed it. But I have to say that the Libba Bray story is worth twice the price of admission! It was an adventure and delight!
Only one story fell a bit flat for me, mostly because it seemed to be a little like the Flash Forward tv series. which wasn’t written to end so abruptly, so there were entire spaghetti tangles of loose ends. This one story seemed to be originally intended for a novel or novella and left an uncomfortable number of untied lines flopping about in my mind.
All in all, though, I recommend it with confidence.

Sort-of Steampunk Bathroom

Ok, so I’m aiming for a steampunk-ish bathroom Why? Well, other than the fact that I really like Steampunk stuff, there is no other reason. Since I’m in a rental, there’s only so much I can do, but the landlord said I could paint the walls in a neutral color if I wanted and since there are great big pink flowers all over them now, it would make my life really happier to get rid of that! But, it’s not a high priority.

So, shower curtain. I made the curtain itself, but the hooks are just awesome!  Love Them!  They came from Lowes. They’ve got the double curtain hooks so the liner and curtain are hung separate.

I replaced the silver curtain rod with a copper one. Well, it’s not really copper, but it’s sort of a copper ish bronze ish looking rod. Regardless, it’s cool. And these really great hooks slide well on it.

The curtain itself is fabric with an antique map print on it. The lower foot or so, which is not visible in the pictures, is a solid brown. I’m pleased.

🙂

Beginning of the Summer Reading Stack

Ok–before I even get started on the ever growing stack of books for the Summer, I have to highlight a book I just got mere hours ago, after I had previously obtained it and had it ruthlessly snatched from my eager paws by someone else. It’s a long story full of action, adventure and intrigue and I shall share it all….some other time. But! There was a happy ending.  For now, here it is!  The Steampunk Bible! It is made of awesome, that’s for certain. (as are my awesome steampunk goggles, hand made of course. If you’re curious about them, go here.) The awesomeness pretty much speaks for itself, but it wouldn’t hurt to expound just a bit.  It is a compendium of Steampunk, from movies to graphic novels, fashion to fiction, gadgets to gizmos and all kinds of steampunked junk.

 

And now for the beginning of the Summer reading stack. So far I have already re-shot this image once so I figured I’d better get it posted before more things come along!  Here’s the stack as it stands right now:

 

Some of these are making a return appearance on the list since I just didn’t get to them last summer.  

 Soulless by Gail Carriger–first in a trilogy. The Parasol Protectorate. Also of a steampunk nature but this time with vampires. One of my favorite books of last Summer’s list was the Cherie Priest book, Boneshaker and it had zombies. So, this year, it’s vampires.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte–read it years ago. Reading it again. There’s supposedly a marvelous movie coming out.

More Like Not Running Away by Paul Shepherd–met the author a few months ago at a pastor-type thingie and he was talking about the art of storytelling as it intersects with the preaching act. He is not a pastor but, instead, a far finer writer. He is the founder of the Lutheran Writers Project.

Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn–a recommendation from my journey of renewal coach. Title is funny–it’s from Zorba the Greek. “Am I not a man? And is a man not stupid? I’m a man, so I married. Wife, children, house, everything. The full catastrophe.”

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness–I was talked into this by a girl at the bookstore and it sounds really interesting. Vampires again. I am not super fond of vampires in the post-Anne Rice world; didn’t like Twilight or any of that. It should be interesting, though because the advice I get from the store is usually pretty good! Also, I recognized her name though I am not sure from what. She does have a wine blog, but I don’t think it was from that……hmmmm.

Dreadnought by Cherie Priest–I like Cherie Priest. She writes good adventure stories with strong female characters. It’s not life altering stuff, but considering the material I usually have to read for work, it’s nice to read about women who go out and do things–adventurous things!  I’m looking forward to this one. 

 The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card–heaven only knows how many books Orson Scott Card has written. His name immediately makes me think of all things Sci-Fi. Got this book several months ago and it floated around my car for a while. Forgot about it. Rediscovered it a few weeks ago and put it on the pile. It should be good. Wish I’d put it in my laundry bag instead of that tedious Galileo’s Dream which I just do not care for and yet cannot seem to just put it away.

Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff–non-fiction book about, of course, Cleopatra. It looks very cool. Author is quite accomplished; she won a Pulitzer for another bio about Saint-Exupery (the man who wrote The Little Prince)

Johannes Cabal: The Necromancer by Jonathan L Howard–this was on last Summer’s list and I just haven’t gotten to it yet.

Belief and Metaphysics edited by Connor Cunningham–the one heavy theology book in the stack. And it is pretty dense, too. It’s a bunch of Radical Orthodoxy people and it is entirely possible that it is over my head. additionally, it’s not the only theology book that will be on the pile–just the only one so far!

My Old True Love by Shiela K Adams–a great storyteller that I have not had the opportunity to read as much as I would like.

Mark of The Lion by Suzanne Arruda–recommended by my mom. She loved it. Adventure/mystery.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfield and illustrations by Kieth Thompson–the cover is gorgeous and there are some amazing drawings including an alternate history map of Europe. Started it already but haven’t finished. 

The Child Thief by Brom–written and illustrated by Brom. A dark version of Peter Pan. Great so far! I thought his drawings looked familiar but I couldn’t place them till I saw the cover of a Michael Moorcock book and then I realized where I’d seen him before.

Kraken by China Mieville–this, too, was on last year’s stack. Can’t believe I haven’t gotten to it yet. But Soon!

Tony Blair: A Journey by Tony Blair–biography of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

Eric Freitas

Found an awesome artist: Eric Freitas

He makes clocks. But they are not ordinary clocks. They are amazing pieces of moving art!

The background of this blog is an image of one of his clocks–I’ve got it up temporarily because I think his work is so great and I’d like to draw attention to it for a little while but I won’t have it there forever, so the full image is below. I just ordered a set of the small prints of his work and can’t wait to get them.

Boneshaker Redux

So, I’ve already written about Boneshaker (see the previous post) but in rereading it, I do not feel that I really says what I wanted. Actually, it says next to nothing. I guess I’m afraid I’ll give away a spoiler or something. So, here’s an additional go at it and if I give something away that you didn’t want…oh well.

Anyhow……I was really fond of this book. It might be because I waited a while to read it, thought that typically makes me less charmed by a book. I think that there were two parts to this. The first was that the protagonist, Briar Wilkes Blue, is a woman who is out to save her son. That’s intriguing to me. I’m sure that, although I do not have children, there’s some psychological architypical reason for my being drawn to that kind of heroine. It seems so infrequent, at least recently, that we see a heroine who is also vulnerable without being dependent. Not that we never do, of course, but we somehow end up with either a superwoman kind of character who goes far beyond what a normal person would be capable of (I’m think about the female lead in the movie Salt at the moment) nearly to the point of unbelievability and certainly to a point where I loose some dimensions of empathy. Briar is tough, both before her son, Zeke, decides to break into the poison filled walled city, and after. But she is not superhuman. She’s brave, but it is in the way that real mothers are brave. They feel the fear and do it anyway. We see her shake and worry. We see her shame and fear of her own identity, second guess the way she’s parented her son and force her way past doubt and real fear to do what she must.

The second thing is the interesting code of ethics that seems to have risen in response to an act of compassion or, as it seems to be called here “fairness”, on the part of Briar’s father. When Briar’s husband, Leviticus Blue, sets the Boneshaker in motion and tunnels underground, causing the collapse of the banks and vaults and destroying the structural integrity of most of the city of Seattle, he also causes a deadly gas to be released upon the population. The vile stuff wreaks havoc on the community, killing many and, those who live after being exposed, transform into “rotters” or, as most of us lovingly call them, zombies. In the midst of the chaos and loss of life, Briar’s father releases prisoners from the jail who would have surely died if he hadn’t intervened. The Wilkes name becomes a sort of code for fair and even treatment of others amongst the less savory members of society.

Briar is sandwiched somewhere between her father’s name and her husband’s name.  Yes, a piece of this story is about Zeke’s journey to discover who his father was or was not, but the most significant and intriguing piece is this woman amongst men (father, husband, son) who has layered herself deeply in protective emotional armor.  Zeke may be out to learn who he is, but I think Briar learns a good deal about who she is, too.

Boneshaker

 

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
What a fun book this is! I am a big Steampunk fan (see my Halloween costume this year!) and I’ve eyed this book for a long time because no book with a dirigible on the front and a woman wearing goggles could be anything but Steampunk! And I was right.
Now, I’ll grant you that this is never going to win a Pulitzer prize. It is not Shakespeare. But then again, wouldn’t life be boring if we all walked around speaking in Iambic Pentameter? (unless, of course, we are villains in a Ron Rash novel. and no one would ever call Serena boring!)
This is a story about a woman, her son on the cusp of adulthood, family secrets and embracing who you are and who you aren’t. It’s about airship pirates, bartenders with mechanical arms, a walled city filled with deadly gas and, therefore, it is also about gas masks, too.  Oh, and zombies. For spice.
Nothing like some spicy zombies!
One of the interesting things for me in this book is something that fascinates me in human nature in the real world, too: our ability to adapt. Humans are infinitely capable of adaption, survival, finding ways to keep on living and even, in some cases, exploit and use the very things that are imprisoning us. The characters in this novel do that emotionally, socially and economically and they do so both above and below ground!
A good and fun adventure!
I’m now on to another novel by Cherie Priest called Dreadnought.
If you want to know more about Steampunk, I suggest here, here, and here.