I am a fan of short stories, and of themed anthologies as a rule, and this was a very good one. While it's being presented as a book of Steampunk stor...moreI am a fan of short stories, and of themed anthologies as a rule, and this was a very good one. While it's being presented as a book of Steampunk stories, it seems many of the contributing writers have only a rudimentary understanding of Steampunk as a set of aesthetics, which is what I think makes the collection so very interesting. Fantasy writers not known for their Steampunk aesthetic try their hand at some 19th Century Ghosts Stories with terrific results. Gene Wolfe has the very compelling "Why I Was Hanged", and John Harwood gives us "Face to Face" and darkly disturbing exploration of the Myth of the Fatal Book (one of my favorite tropes). And Peter Beagle's "Music, When the Soft Voices Die" was equal parts terrifying and heartbreaking.
Another reason I tend to like themed anthologies, is that it is a way I often discover new readers. "Kiss Me Deadly" introduced me to Caitlin Kittredge's "Iron Codex" series, and "The Eternal Kiss" gave me Holly Black's *tremendous* "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown". "Ghosts by Gaslight", too, introduced me to new (to me) writers from whom I am anxious to hear more: Theodora Goss (her "Christopher Raven" was lovely. Part allegory, part cautionary tale), and Margo Lanagan to name only two.
I was also interested to see how the Victorian tropes were used throughout -- authors made great use of both travelogues and correspondance.
I recommend this for lovers of dark and elegant stories -- there is not much here to truly keep you up at night, but sometimes an elegant shiver is what I want more.(less)
Kittredge created something pretty special here. She uses the Lovecraftian tropes and references to create a world that is darkly sinister, but withou...moreKittredge created something pretty special here. She uses the Lovecraftian tropes and references to create a world that is darkly sinister, but without trying to recreate a Lovecraft Story, which was wise. Aoife is a compelling heroine: strong without resorting to "pluckiness", she can doubt herself and be imperfect without coming off as whiny. The love story was my least favorite part, but I'm sure that won't be the case for all readers. I'm interested to see where the next book in the series goes.(less)
Heartless is a great addition to the series. It might be one of my favorites so far, except of course, for Soulless. I was especially pleased to find...moreHeartless is a great addition to the series. It might be one of my favorites so far, except of course, for Soulless. I was especially pleased to find Ivy Hisselpenny-Tunstell being put to some use, and turning out to me not quite as useless as it first appeared. I find it refreshing -- a steampunk romp with a kind of a shine to it, a book that has a sense of humor about itself and the world. The series continues to move forward and hang together pretty coherently. This is less of a romance than we've seen in books past, but that was not a particular problem for me. However, if you're looking for something that will challenge you to look directly into the eye of some terrifying dystopian future to see how much you can endure? Then maybe this isn't your cup of tea, to turn a phrase. But as cups of tea goes, this was just the right one for me this week. (less)
Like many anthologies of its kind, "Corsets and Clockwork" does veer a little toward the *inconsistent* end of things, but not nearly as much as most....moreLike many anthologies of its kind, "Corsets and Clockwork" does veer a little toward the *inconsistent* end of things, but not nearly as much as most. None of the stories are real clunkers, but there were a couple that stood out. Among others, Lesley Livingston's "Rude Mechanicals" had many things I love in any story: run down theaters, idealistic artists and finely-wrought automatons. Its ending hangs like a puppet on a wire, creating that breathlessness only short stories can provide. But then there was the one that REALLY stood out for me. Caitlin Kitteredge's "The Vast Machinery of Dreams", a clockwork Lovecraftian masterpiece, that doesn't function as a traditional Twilight Zonish punch-packing short story, neither as a self contained novel chapter, but instead it functions as a truly "Weird Tale" in the best possible sense of the term. It's the one story that made me question the Young Adult sticker on the library's binding. It's the story I liked so VERY much that my review went from three to four stars.