As expectativas eram muitas antes de ter começado a ler aquela que é considerada uma das obras pioneiras do steampunk original. Certamente, ler as obr...moreAs expectativas eram muitas antes de ter começado a ler aquela que é considerada uma das obras pioneiras do steampunk original. Certamente, ler as obras de K.W. Jeter, autor responsável pela criação do próprio termo (vide carta à Revista Locus, 1987) é algo que está na lista de qualquer fã da literatura do género. E em termos de adequação ao género, o livro não desaponta. Infelizmente, em termos de estilo, história e personagens, deixa algo a desejar.
A história segue George Dower, filho pouco talentoso de um cientista genial, arquétipo dos inventores vitorianos, que morre sem explicar os segredos das suas invenções, deixando ao seu filho uma loja de mecanismos de relógio. Por muito que se esforce (mais por motivos monetários do que por vocação), George não consegue ter com os mecanismos a mesma sinergia que o seu pai tinha. Quando um homem misterioso e exótico o visita no sentido de consertar uma máquina, George começa a aperceber-se que a ocupação real do seu pai não eram os relógios. Com uma intriga que mistura autómatos, sociedades secretas, bordéis, progresso tecnológico e as suas consequências, criaturas sobrenaturais, e viagens no tempo, com muita ironia à mistura, é fácil ver como este livro se tornou influente na história do steampunk.
No entanto, George é uma personagem principal passiva e pouco carismática, o humor é forçado e alguns dos plot twists fazem pouco ou nenhum sentido, falhando na tentativa de trazer algum interesse final à narrativa. A história empalidece em comparação com outros clássicos do género, sem qualquer característica que a torne memorável.
De leitura recomendada para os fãs do género, nem que seja apenas pela sua importância histórica (e a introdução, escrita recentemente em tom de reflexão). Para os que gostam de uma boa história, este livro entretém, mas não satisfaz.(less)
Imagine a world where the Mongolian empire has never weakened, and instead developed into a formidable force with a culture and technology to match, quickly moving past anything you could have found in Europe. Imagine that this force, with its center in Xanadu, has managed to successfully conquer Europe. And imagine that the technology they have developed includes genetic manipulation and nanoagents which were spread through food and beverages, and when activated, allows them to control the actions and emotions of the population.
This was the fate of Europe in the Iron Seas series, whole nations falling one by one and relocating to the Americas, where they built a New Europe. Great Britain survived longer, due to the water barrier, but the English people made the mistake of trying to maintain peace with the invaders, establishing a trade route for sugar and tea which ended up being a point of entry to nanoagents. The island was invaded, and for nearly two centuries the royal family and higher classes were dominated, the lower classes enslaved, forced to modify their bodies in order to become more useful tools for working. Emotions were controlled, as well as reproduction, which only occurred when the Horde activated the so-called frenzies, forcing people to mate indiscriminately.
Born from one of these frenzies, there’s the main character, Mina. While the society in this series has moral and social rules that are way more relaxed than what you’d find in its real life equivalent, or even in America, as described in the book, there is still prejudice against women, specially those who try to be independent and have a career (Mina is a police investigator). The situation is worsened by the fact that Mina is of Mongolian descent, a product of a particularly painful frenzy when her mother was with one of the invaders. The story begins nine years after London has been freed from the Horde, not nearly enough time for people to forget or forgive the horrors they suffered, so anything that reminds them of the enemy is met with disgust and hatred.
The world-building is easily the most interesting part of the book. The romance is as you would expect, except that for me, the Iron Duke (aka Rhys) was such an insufferable character that I would have been glad to see Mina falling for someone else. He’s your typical alpha male, used to getting everything he wants, who manipulates Mina into accepting him. He even gets her away from her city, her family and friends because he’s convinced she squanders all her love on them and there will be none left for him. Although his actions get somewhat better by the end of the book, it’s still a wonder why Mina found him so attractive.
That aside, the world that Meljean Brook created is complex, detailed and full of potential, specially when it comes to the nanoagents and their effect on humans and the natural world. Don’t let the semi-nude man on the cover fool you, this book is much more than a steamy romance. It has a compelling story and wonderful world-building. Recommended
Note: I will forever be on page 254 of this book. You know why.(less)
I had high expectations for this book, having read some enthusiastic reviews on Goodreads, but unfortunately I didn't love it.
To start off, I should s...moreI had high expectations for this book, having read some enthusiastic reviews on Goodreads, but unfortunately I didn't love it.
To start off, I should say that I'm clearly not in the demographic this book was written for. I often read and enjoy young adult, even teen fiction, and many times the books can be enjoyed and interpreted in different ways when you're older. Other times, a book you loved in your teens feels simplistic and superficial when you re-read it as an adult. This book, for me, falls into the second category.
The world-building kept me interested, even if at times it didn't sound very realistic. The story takes place in Victorian London and the descriptions of the city were well-written, making it easy to get immersed into the background and almost taste the atmosphere. Even though this is often described as Steampunk, other than some automatons (whose presence and utility I seriously questioned) there was very little that could be called Steampunk. The story itself fell a bit short for me - most of the times I could guess what would happen and why, and it didn't bode well for the characters that they couldn't see it coming and were always surprised, only putting two and two together too late.
And the characters? Even though the focus is on their relationships and personal "demons", they were still rather cliché. The intelligent, secretly powerful teen protagonist who thinks she's bland but everyone thinks she's pretty; the "incredibly handsome bad boy with a supposedly heart of gold" love interest; the less handsome but still gorgeous best friend to the bad boy, impossibly perfect and kind, also a love interest; the angry, unpleasant girl who nobody really likes (the protagonist just can't have a rival for the boys' attention); the authority figure; and a cast of somewhat interesting secondary characters who may or may not make it alive to the end of the book.
Still, it's a decent adventure book for teens, and I would have given it 3 stars if it wasn't for one thing: the romance. Let me go on a bit of a rant here. I'm very tired of seeing these romances in which the girl "falls in love" with the bad boy, based on absolutely nothing but his looks. Honestly, let's put it this way: the bad boys in these books are always drop dead gorgeous. If they were ugly, the protagonist would despise them because they're mean, selfish and hurtful, but since they're handsome, they're just misunderstood, the poor things. They always have a dark, mysterious past, and use that as an excuse to treat others badly and to avoid getting hurt. I don't get what's so endearing about this. In real life, I would be seriously worried if I saw a girl fall head over heels over a guy that treats her like dirt, insults her, ignores her, despises what she considers important, sometimes even physically hurts her (after kissing her, no less), just because he's really cute and she believes deep down he is a good person. Because, you know, beautiful people have to be good people.
Maybe I'm reading too much into this. Maybe this is just a book that caters to a specific group of people who love this kind of thing. But I can't write a review without giving my honest opinion, and I couldn't help that it was tainted by the strong reaction I had against the romance and the characters. Still, I will give the sequel a chance, in the hope that it might surprise me.(less)
A história de Steampunk: Manimatron é passada numa Inglaterra alternativa do séc. XIX, na qual um déspota com tendências melodramáticas usurpou o tron...moreA história de Steampunk: Manimatron é passada numa Inglaterra alternativa do séc. XIX, na qual um déspota com tendências melodramáticas usurpou o trono e lançou o pais numa época forçada de industrialismo frenético. O smog cobre o céu sobre Londres, e os habitantes parecem-se pouco com os humanos que costumavam ser, uma vez que toda a gente tem algum tipo de modificação corporal – asas, braços e pernas mecânicos, corpos de aranha - a imaginação (e o acesso a matérias primas) é o limite. Lord Absinthe, o usurpador, é o típico soberano sedento de poder, com um caso sério de complexo de Deus. Os aristocratas deixam-se levar pelos privilégios da nova sociedade, enquanto que as classes mais baixas, horrivelmente desfiguradas e exploradas, ocupam o seu tempo a tentar sobreviver e a sonhar com uma revolução.
Chris Bachalo tem vindo a habituar os fãs a uma arte visionária, detalhada e energética. Nisso, o livro não falha. Todavia, é triste quando as boas ideias são traídas por uma execução pouco brilhante. No caso específico de Manimatron, temos a construção de um mundo original, visualmente interessante e com potencial, que é minado por personagens cliché, uma história relativamente banal, diálogos densos e sem sentido, design de páginas confuso e lettering quase indecifrável.
As personagens apresentam um design visual excelente, perfeitamente integrado no mundo em que se inserem. Os trajes e modificações miscelâneas reflectem o lado mais prático, tecnológico e cru da sociedade, embora a tecnologia avançada de vapor em si seja considerado um luxo apenas acessível aos membros da alta sociedade. No entanto, todas as personagens são típicas: o vilão típico que só quer ter poder e dominar o mundo, o herói masculino, forte e silencioso, a bela e gentil rapariga que é alvo das afeições do herói, a personagem feminina badass moralmente ambígua (completa com o já esperado impressionante par de atributos femininos), e as personagens secundárias de comic relief.
O design do mundo é igualmente detalhado e planeado até ao pormenor, e teria funcionado melhor se os painéis não estivessem tão completamente preenchidos por informação. Assim, tornam-se difíceis de decifrar, dificultando a imersão na história. Certamente, esta dificuldade é tão óbvia que só pode ter sido deliberada, talvez para tornar a banda desenhada mais complexa e intricada; no entanto, depois de decifrada, a história é demasiado simples para suportar tudo o resto. Muito estilo e pouca substância, poderia dizer-se.
Este é um livro que divide opiniões: de um lado, os fãs, que acusam os restantes leitores de serem preguiçosos e de criticarem tudo aquilo que não seja simples de apreender; do outro, aqueles que acham que a densidade e complexidade são utilizados para “mascarar” uma história banal e cliché. Pessoalmente, acredito que a marca de um bom storyteller em banda desenhada não é a dificuldade de leitura, mas sim a dança delicada entre a parte visual e a parte escrita, o equilíbrio entre a complexidade e subtileza. Apesar de tudo, o mundo é suficientemente bom para manter o interesse, e a história poderá surpreender no segundo volume.
On my quest for steampunk (or steampunk inspired) comics, I came across Lady Mechanika, courtesy of one of our local comic books shop here in Porto. I...moreOn my quest for steampunk (or steampunk inspired) comics, I came across Lady Mechanika, courtesy of one of our local comic books shop here in Porto. I quickly discovered this is a notoriously difficult series to find – sadly, only the #1 and #2 issues were available. I’ve yet to find a #0, or the collected first issues, at an affordable price. This bodes well for the series, but not at all for my wallet.
Anyway, on the story. Since I didn’t get a chance to read issue #0, I may be missing something already, but reading issue #1 definitely peaked my curiosity. The setting is an alternative Victorian Era. Mechanika, the most advanced city in the Commonwealth, lends its name to the heroin, Lady Mechanika, a girl part human, part machine, who was found locked up in a laboratory surrounded by corpses, with no memory of her past life. With her unique mechanical abilities, she spends her time solving mysteries and doing detective work, while searching constantly for clues to her past life and who might be responsible for her transformation.
In this issue, a young girl with mechanical claws is being chased through the woods. She manages to dodge her attackers and lands on a train going to Mechanika. Who are the people chasing her? Is this girl related to Lady Mechanika, and in what way?
The first thing you notice about this series is the quality of the covers. There are many different ones for each issue, each absolutely gorgeous. Inside, the artwork continues to amaze – the colors, the drawing, panels, all come together to produce an atmosphere that blends industrial, vintage, Victorian and sci-fi elements. The wealth of details is amazing, and steampunk fans will not be disappointed.
Steampunk is a subgenre / aesthetic that reimagines Victorian times in a retro-futurist way, embracing the past while reflecting upon the present and...moreSteampunk is a subgenre / aesthetic that reimagines Victorian times in a retro-futurist way, embracing the past while reflecting upon the present and future. It is as much a way of life as it is a kind of literature, music or fashion. You will have seen hints of it everywhere: books, Hollywood movies, or strange people who dress in a fashion that mixes 19th century Victoriana with punk’s do-it-yourself mindset.
Relying heavily on Steampunk’s unique visual appeal, with beautiful photographs and illustration (just look at that cover!), this book has both style and substance, with contributions from some of the most active members of the worldwide community. Steampunk is (or can be) a lot more than just pretty corsets and goggles, or stuff with cogs glued to it. It’s a way of thinking about technology and the way it impacts us, it’s marrying escapism with social and political awareness, it’s a reaction against today’s consumerist world, in which the mass-produced things we own are never supposed to last more than two to three years, and you can’t fix them when they break.
The first few chapters cover the literary origins of Steampunk and the first authors to truly tackle it, all the way through to the most recent books and graphic novels. There are also chapters dedicated to the fashion, the crafty and tinkering aspects of Steampunk, movies (both Hollywood and less mainstream ones), and events around the world.
The inventors, authors and tinkerers featured throughout the book are guaranteed to inspire you to try your hands at something – there’s even a tutorial on etching tins to get you going.
In short, there’s a bit of something for everyone in this book slash love letter to Steampunk. If you’re not a Steampunk fan already, you will be after you read this book. I do wish it would have gone a bit deeper in exploring the works listed – this is called a bible, after all – but as an illustrated guide, it works really well.