Sunday, October 9, 2011

Review: Steampunk!

Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories
Edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant
Expected publication October 11, 2011 by Candlewick Press

Unless you live under a rock, you know that steampunk is huge right now. This is a new YA anthology to introduce readers to the subtleties and varieties that encompass steampunk, with stories from a selection of YA authors. As with any anthology, this had its highlights and not-so-much for me. It was really interesting to see how each author interpreted "steampunk", especially since it can be hard to define that term in the first place. The editors provide a nice introduction, which includes their attempt to define steampunk and a brief discussion of how varied steampunk stories can be. To the stories themselves: my favorites were Libba Bray, Ysabeau S. Wilce, Kelly Link, Garth Nix, Christopher Rowe, Dylan Horrocks, and Holly Black. I really enjoyed Libba Bray's tale of a girl gang - I've read most of her books and really enjoyed them and am continually impressed by all the different directions she chooses to go in with her writing - and how successful she always seems to be. I was surprisingly engaged with Ysabeau S. Wilce's police procedural story - I had read Flora Segunda a while back and thoroughly did not enjoy it so it was pleasant to discover that I really liked the story she included here. Kelly Link's tale of summer people was slightly creepy and magical; I'm looking forward to reading more by her. Garth Nix's tale of the former Grand Technomancer presented a future not that hard to imagine. The future in Christopher Rowe's story where personal cars are frowned upon (to say the least) is also not so hard to picture. Dylan Horrocks crafted a beautiful and sad story of Steam Girl, while Holly Black's story of love among the automatons was sad in another way. The stories I didn't love (Cassandra Clare, Cory Doctorow, Delia Sherman, Shawn Cheng, Elizabeth Knox, Kathleen Jennings, and M.T. Anderson) were actually still stories that I liked - I can still remember what all of these stories were about (which, considering my memory and how much I read, is pretty impressive). The more I think about it, the more I realize that I enjoyed something in every story presented here, though I definitely had some favorites. This is a great collection that I think will easily find a big audience. I'm happy to see steampunk take off and hope some of the authors featured here will continue writing steampunk adventures.

Thanks to the publishers for an advance reader's copy.

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