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

Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories is a collection of tales from the two editors as well as Garth Nix , Christopher Rowe, Kathleen Jennings, Dylan Horrocks, Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Cory Doctorow, Shawn Cheng, Ysabeau S. Wilce, Delia Sherman, Elizabeth Knox. With a line up of authors like this, there really is something for all interested readers: tweens, teens and adults alike. The stories range widely, including to in graphic format, and anyone interested to experience a sampling of where steampunk can take you should read and enjoy this title. No two stories included are anything alike, and only related through a thin thread of steampunk-like attributes in each story. Although some of the stories were harder to see the steampunk in than others, some might be labeled fantasy or science fiction rather than steampunk by genre purists, but I think the variety just shows how much ground the genre can cover. This is not your average steampunk, but can serve as a great introduction or continued exploration of the genre.

For the uninitiated; steampunk is a genre of fiction, film, and even clothing that adds steam technology and gadgetry to a world that has never held those tools. Whether it is adding airships, automatons, goggles and other gadgets to Victorian England, which is the more common and recognizable form, or bringing steam power ships deep into space and exploring. Steampunk generally includes an alternate universe where romance and technology reign, although in this anthology there are stories that bring steampunk into the modern world in new ways. When you begin reading Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories, you will meet individuals ranging from scientists to students, the fae to Romans, intrepid orphans, and utopian revolutionaries. Stories include monstrous predicaments, moral dilemmas, oracles, steam-powered airships, automatons and questions about the very nature of humanity. Settings range from modern Appalachia to ancient Rome, future Australia to an alternate California.

As with any anthology, some stories spoke to me more than others, and some still haunt me. Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories offers readers exactly what the title suggests, a book of stories that will mesmerize and possibly disturb readers. I highly recommend this anthology to tweens, teens and adults that enjoy steampunk, science fiction or fantasy. I also recommend this book to people that want to explore just what steampunk can mean, and want to avoid the typical Victorian England setting that is prevalent in the genre. Those that are steampunk purists, firm in their mindset of just what steampunk is and must be, might enjoy this collection, or become frustrated with stories that might not fit into their idea of the genre. However, even without the steampunk label, I found all of the stories worth the read, and some that left me hoping that the short stories would spawn a book or even series in order to give me even more of the world described.

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