Saturday, May 24, 2008
Part of a Babbage Engine from 1832, a form of mechanical computer that was never fully developed. Bruce Sterling posits a different future based on a secret society which developed this in his book, The Difference Engine.
Steampunk, Edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer is a collection of Victorian style science fiction. It includes a few excerpts from larger novels including a chapter from The Warlord of the Air by Michael Moorcock.
Some of the short stories are quite entertaining. One of my favorites is The Selene Gardening Society about a group of Victorian ladies shooting garbage to the moon. Another story I found fascinating was the 72 Letters about a society that used golems for industrial purposes. The main character designed and built golems. The story, The Martian Agent by Michael Chabon was about a pair of the sons of a confederate soldier escaping to England on a zeppelin.
The author selection was quite good including; James, Blaylock, Michael Moorcock, Rachel Pollack and others.
I could find little objectionable in the stories, except for the story Victoria about Queen Victoria acting as a courtesan for a while to further her education. It was a bit baudy and filled with an offbeat sense of humor.
There are two essays at the end of the book; The Steam Driven Time Machine: A Pop Culture Survey lists a variety of steampunk movies, novels, and television shows and the essay The Essential Sequential Steampunk A Modest Survey of the Genre within the Comic Book Medium lists a variety of graphic novels that are steampunk.
This was a satisfying collection. I found the last two essays to be quite interesting. The editing in this collection was quite clean. I have to congratulate Tachyone Publications on producing a very interesting collection. http://www.tachyonpublications.com/
There is a brief biographical summary of each author in the collection at the back of the book.