the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘steampunk’ Category

Holiday decorations take-down-ing getting you down?  Winter is just beginning, so why not decorate your home with paper snowflakes? It was all the rage when I was a kid in the 80′s.

Into Steampunk? create yourself some steampunk gear snowflakes!  I call ‘em GearFlakes.  They are easy to make, require zero fancy tools, and you can have a lot of fun setting them up in geared patterns on your window.  Let the whole neighborhood know a steampunk geek lives here! You don’t even need a compass. or a protractor. I promise.  It’s six way symmetry steampunk awesome.

What’s this you say? you want step by step instructions?  Today, and today only, your wish is my command!

you’ll need:

paper
pencil
sharp scissors
two bowls, one larger than the other (Or I suppose you could use a compass, if you really, really wanted to)

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I couldn’t make it to World Steam Expo this year, but some good friends of mine, N & R, did.

N & R got to spend some time with these lovely folks,

Oh, those folks? They’re only Phil & Kaja Foglio, the creators of some of my favorite steampunk graphic novels and this gem of a novel as well.

My friends went to World Steam Expo, and all I got was . . . .

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The Falling Machine (Society of Steam, book 1), by Andrew Mayer

published in May, 2011

Where I got it: received review copy from PYR

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Being “Victorian”, most steampunk I’ve read takes place in Victorian England, so it was very refreshing to read a steampunk that takes place in the United States. Even better, to a city I’ve visited before, New York City.  Mayer has taken the hustling, bustling, industrializing, Brooklyn-Bridge-just-starting New York City of 1880 and added superheroes, villains, automatons, and mad scientists.

Sarah Stanton, daughter of famed industrialist Alexander Stanton, lives a life of privilege. Although she isn’t supposed to leave her house without a chaperone, and she can’t vote or own property or choose her own husband, Sarah has been allowed to study under the inventor Dennis Darby.  Darby, leader of the international group of superheroes known as The Paragons, and creator of the walking, talking, thinking automaton known as Tom, is Sarah’s favorite person in the whole world.  When Sarah witnesses Darby’s violent death, his dying words regarding the future and her place in it become her responsibility.

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We picked up Jeff Vandermeer’s  The Steampunk Bible the other day, and while I haven’t had a ton of time to look through it, I’ve drooled over the photos and read a handful of the guest essays.

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as you can see, It’s book pornalicious.

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Cat Valente? After reading your essay, I love you even MORE! “parents, talk to your children about steampunk . . “
(more photos after the jump) Read the rest of this entry »

Infernal Devices, by K.W. Jeter

copyright 1987, republished in 2011 with a new introduction and afterword

where I got it: purchased new

why I read it: it’s the April book club book for my local SF reading club. and who doesn’t like Steampunk?

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Interested in Steampunk but not sure where to start?  Looking for some adventure?  I’ll save you the trouble of reading this entire review by simply saying that K. W Jeter’s Infernal Devices is one of the best executed novels I’ve read in a long time, and I easily expect it to be one of my top reads for the year.  I guarantee you will enjoy it.

In a handful of recently published “steampunks” that I’ve read, the steampunk elements are simply window dressing. The story is an adventure, a mystery, and in more cases than not a thinly veiled romance, with a handful of gears, airships, and steam engines thrown in so it can be called steampunk. I’m an elitist snob: pulling shit like that is a major turn off.  So, as an elitist snob, it thrills me to say that Infernal Devices is the genuine article.  No window dressing, no airships just for the sake of airships, no thinly veiled anything. Infernal Devices drips with authenticity, invokes a proper Victorian gentleman’s strong dislike of the unknown, reeks of dank dark drinking dens, and invites you to get lost in a watchmaker’s workshop brimming with beautifully constructed clockwork devices.

George Dower never knew his father well. Raised outside the city by an Aunt, he knows his father, the famous inventor, through reputation only. After a churchly disaster, George keeps his head down and merely attempts to keep his father’s workshop in business.  This proves difficult, as although George can fix a basic watch that needs nothing more than winding, the workshop collects more dust than commissions.

When a strange looking man delivers a complex clockwork device that needs fixing, and offers payment in advance with a strange gold coin, George takes the man’s money before realizing this commission is far beyond his understanding, and that the dark skinned man never gave his name. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t forget, today is the last day to get in on the contest to win a copy of The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man,  book two in Mark Hodder’s steampunk/mad science Burton & Swinburne series.

Enter for the give away here.
Read my review of the book here.
Read my review of the first book in the series, The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack here.

Contest will close at midnight tonight, eastern standard time.  I’ll announce the winner tomorrow, so watch this space, and watch your e-mail!

The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man, by Mark Hodder

Published March 2011

where I got it: received ARC from the publisher

why I read it: adored the first book in the series, The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack, reviewed here.

Enter to Win a Copy of The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man, here. Contest is open until March 21.

Welcome to Victorian England, just not the Victorian England you know.  The Queen is dead (so perhaps I should call it Albertian England?), scientists are having a field day with steam powered inventions, eugenicists are having a ball with genetically modified foodstuffs and insects grown to obscene proportions and magic is real.  Well, not magic exactly, but mind control, astral projections, spiritualism, mediumistic techniques to read the future is all very, very real. And it all started back in 1837, when a certain someone had such very good intentions and tried so very hard to fix what had gone horribly wrong.

It’s now 1862, and Sir Richard Francis Burton and his assistant Algernon Swinburne have recovered from the Spring Heeled Jack Affair. The Technologist faction is under control, Isembard Kingdom Brunel has made his new life public, the British government is playing favorites regarding the American War between the states, and Burton continues to be bitter about being passed over for funding for African expeditions.    Although Hodder provides plenty of background information and these are fairly episodic adventures so far, I am reluctant to say you can read The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man as a standalone, as there is a overarching plotline that I believe will become more important than any one adventure.

Hodder  gets the action, adventure, and mystery started right off the bat. Burton and Swinburne investigate an abandoned yet beautifully constructed clockwork man in the middle of a public square, which leads to a theft of famous black diamonds, the untimely death of Charles Babbage, a disturbing  vision of Burton’s future, a homeless philosopher who seems to suffer from multiple personality disorder, the mythology behind the rest of the black diamonds, and a haunted estate. Oh, and fairies, whatever you do, don’t forget the fairies. Read the rest of this entry »

I feel like that should be the name of a hallmark channel movie, “a very shiny clockwork christmas”, or something, don’t you?

Anyways, thanks to the always friendly folks at PYR, I have a beautiful,  very shiny and very lovely copy of Mark Hodder’s The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man to give away.  It really is lovely, and that’s just the cover art! Just wait till you get a load of what’s inside!

Interested in winning a copy of this alternate history steampunk driven,  mad-science brimming,  genetically modified plants weaponized,  clairvoyance mind-control-ized mystery adventure full of twists and turns?  Of course you are!  Just leave a comment that you’re interested, along with a way that I can get in touch with you (website, e-mail, twitter, parakeet address, favorite local indie bookstore that you haunt, twitter handle for author you’re stalking, etc).

Contest is open till end of the day March 21, and the winner will be announced on March 22, the day the book is released.

This giveaway is open to anyone living on Earth. However keep in mind the further away you live from me (I’m in the continental US), the longer it will take for the book to reach you.

My review will be posted in the next little while, so stay tuned!

apologies for the fuzzy photo and hideous carpeting.

The Affinity Bridge, by George Mann

written in: 2009

where I got it: Library

why I read it: Had heard good things, especially about the 2nd book in this series, The Osiris Ritual.

With steampunk being the trend du jour of 2010, I couldn’t not read George Mann’s The Affinity Bridge. The first in a series of Victorian steampunk mysteries starring investigators Maurice Newbury and Veronica Hobbes, The Affinity Bridge takes place in a smoggy, dangerous London, where if the zombies don’t get you, the mad scientist might.

With a cover as researchers at the British Museum, Newbury and Hobbes are able to hid their true jobs as investigative agents of the Crown, focusing on cases the police are having trouble with.  Right away the reader is introduced to a handful of mysteries – an automaton airship crash that killed everyone on board, a growing plague of zombies in Whitechapel, stories of a supernatural glowing policeman who kills random paupers, and to top it off, the brother of one of Newbury’s employees has gone missing.  Mann makes sure the reader believes these mysteries are connected.

Hidden behind Newbury’s stodgy, formal, upper class british gent personality lies addictions to laudanum and the occult, and an adorable concern for the safety and general well being of his assistant, Miss Hobbes.  Veronica Hobbes, however, can hold her own, and more than once it is she who is saving Newbury’s skin. Constantly underestimated because she is a woman, Miss Hobbes takes advantage of everyone’s preconcieved notions to get useful information out of people.  For me, Veronica Hobbes was the best part of The Affinity Bridge, I wish she was given a bigger role from the start.

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  First things first, I adore Doc Holliday. 

Second things second, Mike Resnick’s The Buntline Special just might be the most fun I’ve had all year. Equal parts clever, crazy, snarky and suspensful, if you are looking for a good time here’s a book you can’t go wrong with.

In an alternate history style reminiscent of Tim Powers, Resnick takes what we know happened (or at least what probably happened), and adds in that magical, wonderful science fiction question of “what if”. His answer includes cyborg women, assassins brought back from the dead, Native American magic, horseless carriages, inventors with too much time on their hands and all the fun you can have in the Wild Wild West. It’s not the deepest book I’ve ever read, but sometimes girls just wanna have fun.

In thing only slighty alternate history 1880′s, Thomas Edison has a rockin’ steampunk prosthetic arm and works with Ned Buntline in the town of Tombstone to create horseless carriages, fancy weaponry, brass body armor, cyborgs, and all sorts of other wacky inventions. What Tom thinks up, Ned creates. They’ve brought the electricity revolution to Tombstone. Secretly the inventors have been funded by the US Government to find a scientific way of counteracting the medicine men of the tribes, whose magic has kept the white men from expanding their country past the Mississippi river.

Read the rest of this entry »


About this redhead, etc.

Redhead is a snarky, non-politically correct 30-something who reviews mostly science fiction and fantasy and talks about all sorts of other fun scifi and fantasy geekery. She once wrote a haiku that included the word triskaidekaphobia.

This blog contains adult language and strong opinions. The best way to contact her outside of this blog is twitter, where she is @redhead5318 .

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