Tatiana's Reviews > Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories

Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Sto... by Kelly Link
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's review
Sep 16, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: short-stories, 2011, fantasy, sci-fi, graphic-novels
Recommended to Tatiana by: Kirkus
Recommended for: anyone interested in steampunk (not steampunk romance)

I haven't enjoyed a YA anthology this much since Zombies Vs. Unicorns. Picking authors who can write and have a lot of interest in the genre, as opposed to those who are popular, really paid off here. (The only exception to this assumption is the opening short story by Cassandra Clare. But I guess there was no way to avoid that as Clare is currently considered to be the shining beacon of YA steampunk and thus assigned as the main attraction in this book.)

The subtitle of the collection is An Anthology if Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories, and indeed it's not a lie, this book is full of imaginative and original stories.

My vision of what "steampunk" is is pretty pedestrian and looks something like this:



For the most part, the authors cater to such "vision" and a few even manage to bend it to their purposes and create some darn good stories. Although there are some who think that using words like "engineer" or "gadget" once or twice in a story is sufficient to make it steampunk. I disagree, but what do I know?

Now to the stories themselves.

My most favorite in the collection, without contest, Dylan Horrocks's Steam Girl. It's a sweet story about a developing friendship (and maybe more) between a lonely boy and a new girl in school who calls herself Steam Girl and tells strange tales about her inventions and various steampunky interplanetary adventures. Are her stories real or imaginary?

The other shorts that caught my attention:

Libba Bray's The Last Ride of the Glory Girls - about a gang of girls who rob trains using a clockwork that stops time. This story is so good I wouldn't mind reading a whole book about the Glory Girls and their adventures.

In Clockwork Fagin by Cory Doctorow limbless and mutilated children injured by steam-powered machines who live in an orphanage get rid of their evil master and substitute him with an automaton.

Next two stories are both ghostly and with the most feminist flare. The main character in Ysabeau S. Wilce's Hand in Glove, Constable Aurelia Etreyo, seeks both respect from her male colleagues and justice for an innocent man accused of multiple murders. The narrator of Delia Sherman's The Ghost of Cwmlech Manor, a servant girl who dreams of becoming an engineer, helps her master to find hidden treasure with some help from the resident ghost.

Calling Elizabeth Knox's Gethsemane steampunk would be a stretch. But this story about 4 strange people caught in a natural disaster is so curiously and intricately written that I am willing to forgive the deficiencies in steampunk department. I loved how life stories of the characters intertwined and transformed, rolling into one another.

The collection also has two successful post-apocalyptic pieces. In Garth Nix's Peace in Our Time and Christopher Rowe's Nowhere Fast steampunk future is, respectively, a cause and the effect of the downfall of the civilization.

The two graphic stories (Shawn Cheng's Seven Days Beset by Demons and Kathleen Jennings's Finishing School) presented in Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories while provide some diversion from prose are pretty negligible.

My least favorite stories, in the descending order of my enjoyment, are:

Kelly Link's The Summer People has absolutely nothing to do with steampunk. It's a tale about a girl's quest to rid herself of the fae folk she is bound to serve.

The Oracle Engine by M.T. Anderson is set in a AU Ancient Rome and involves a future-predicting machine used for revenge.

Both Cassandra Clare's Some Fortunate Future Day and Holly Black's Everything Amiable and Obliging have good ideas (the first one is about time reversing and the second - automaton-loving), but are too unpolished, unappealing in terms of writing and character development. It might be a matter of personal taste though, I have never liked anything written by either of these authors.

All in all my experience with this collection has been very pleasant. Even the weakest short stories in this anthology are very readable. I recommend.
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Reading Progress

September 16, 2011 – Shelved
September 21, 2011 – Started Reading
September 21, 2011 – Shelved as: short-stories
September 21, 2011 –
page 17
4.03% ""Some Fortunate Future Day" - 2.5 stars"
September 23, 2011 –
page 54
12.8% ""The Last Ride of the Glory Girls" - 4"
September 23, 2011 –
page 93
22.04% ""Clockwork Fagin" - 4"
September 23, 2011 –
page 108
25.59% ""Seven Days Beset by Demons" - 3"
September 24, 2011 –
page 142
33.65% ""Hand in Glove" - 4"
September 25, 2011 –
page 177
41.94% ""The Ghost of Cwmlech Manor" - 4"
September 26, 2011 –
page 212
50.24% ""Gethsemene" - 4"
September 28, 2011 –
page 253
59.95% ""The Summer People" - 3 (weird)"
September 29, 2011 –
page 267
63.27% ""Peace in Our Time" - 4"
September 29, 2011 –
page 290
68.72% ""Nowhere Fast" - 3"
September 29, 2011 –
page 308
72.99% ""Finishing School" - 3"
September 29, 2011 –
page 353
83.65% ""Steam Girl" - 5"
September 29, 2011 –
page 376
89.1% ""Everything Amiable and Obliging" - 2"
September 30, 2011 –
page 432
100% ""The Oracle Engine" - 3"
September 30, 2011 – Shelved as: 2011
September 30, 2011 – Shelved as: fantasy
September 30, 2011 – Shelved as: sci-fi
September 30, 2011 – Shelved as: graphic-novels
September 30, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by AH (new) - added it

AH Great review. I found a preview version of this anthology on Amazon. It starts with Cory Doctorow's story.

Tatiana His story is one of the best in this collection. Hope you like it.

message 3: by Alice (new)

Alice I've been meaning to begin reading it for a while now. I love steampunk so much and this anthology sounds amazing!

message 4: by Kaye (new) - added it

Kaye Yay! I'm really looking forward to it!

message 5: by Megan (new)

Megan Those pictures are pretty much my veiw of steampunk, too :)

Amelia, the pragmatic idealist Hi Tatiana! I'm ready this right now and completely agree with you about Clare & Black. Their stories are so weak, and yet they were the ones who apparently took charge of getting this anthology out there. Interesting.
Thanks for a great review!

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