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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Steampunk Adventures

It's a new year! Time for new adventures! New books to read! New genres to explore! New guys to crush on! (As the previous post proves.)

So. As per the title, I'm dipping my toe into the shallow end of the steampunk genre. Steampunk, for those of you who aren't "in the know," (well, not that I am, that much) is a sub-genre of science fiction where steam/electricity was discovered early, usually in Edwardian/Victorian England and technological advances are, well...more advanced than the time period allows.

A prime example of steampunk fashion/modus operandi for women is usually leather corsets, fancy hats, clockwork and over-sized guns. A man's suit will invariably feature a top-hat, goggles, and some kind of cogs and wheels.

Now, I'm all for exploring new things. Seeking out new genres I could write. Steampunk is one of those things I don't know that much about, but I'd like to know more, if only for the cool things that are featured within. I don't think I could write it, since it requires me to do things like know about math, science, machinery and all those other things I'm not good at, but since it is fantasy, I could just make up what I don't know. So there is that!

But over the past two weeks, I've read two books that qualify as steampunk, and these are my thoughts thereof.

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress.

And The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent.

Of the two, I liked The Friday Society better than The Unnaturalists, because The Friday Society features three rotating narrators, Cora Bell, Nellie Harrison, and Michiko Takeda, all intelligent, interesting, talented, sassy young ladies who solve crimes--in 1900 England. With this book, the steampunk influences are not as obviously overt as, say, The Unnaturalists and the voices of the three ladies is refreshingly modern and not as overtly dated for readers who aren't accustomed to reading books with a old-fashioned voice.

In contrast, The Unnaturalists is very steampunk, featuring an alternate reality where Nikolai Tesla somehow managed to create a mirror, alternate version of London where magic is outlawed and science is the religion--literally. Scientists like Marie Curie, Louis Pasteur and Charles Darwin are considered Saints (capital letter and all). Vespa Nyx, our heroine, is the daughter of a naturalist who catalogues unnatural creatures like gryphons, dragons, sylphs and the like. Now, the world-building in this book is amazing and very in-depth--maybe a little too in-depth, because there were times when I wished for a pamphlet or something to go along with it, just to explain certain aspects to me. There is, of course, the inevitable pull/push between magic and science, how this world needs both to survive. Nomadic tribes of Tinkers (inspired by a people in Nepal) wander around the countryside, practicing illegal magic and protecting creatures like the Manticore and the Golden Dragon.

Now, for readers looking to explore the world of steampunk, for my part, I would read The Friday Society first and then The Unnaturalists, as to have a point of reference to go on. That being said, steampunk is gaining ground as my new area of interest--though if I ever write it, well. That remains to be seen.

Over & Out,

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