Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Starred Library Journal review for Steampunk

I didn't even know Library Journal *gave* starred reviews...oh wait, they gave one to The New Weird. It's the VanderMagic at work...

Steampunk. Edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer.

Verdict: The editors follow up on their acclaimed sf/fantasy anthology, The New Weird, with another first-rate collection of reprinted stories and excerpts. Serving as both a small reference and a thoughtful yet airship-light story collection, their new volume is highly recommended for all libraries that collect speculative fiction.

Background: In their latest collection, the VanderMeers chronicle steampunk, which raises technical power (steam) in 19th-century Victorian settings while tweaking the era’s social structures (punk). Introductory essays neatly define the subgenre’s history and scope, and stories from Michael Moorcock, James Blaylock, Mary Gentle, Michael Chabon, Paul Di Filippo, and Neal Stephenson don’t disappoint. The highlights are diverse: Joe R. Lansdale’s profane and horrific story recasts H.G. Wells’s time machine inventor in the American West as a nasty vampire battling a frontiersman’s steam-powered giant. The delightful ladies of Molly Brown’s "Selene Gardening Society" shame puttering, walrus-mustached husbands into terraforming the moon with a trash catapult. Ted Chiang’s "Seventy-Two Letters" examines the political implications of robotics and cloning in a period story blending scientifically created golems, reproductive technology, and kabbalists. Stepan Chapman reimagines the Russian Revolution with nanotechnology, spybots, and nuclear weapons.
—Neil Hollands, Williamsburg Regional Lib., VA


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