Joe's Reviews > Steampunk

Steampunk by Jeff VanderMeer
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's review
Mar 16, 2010

liked it

** spoiler alert ** Oh how I wanted to like you, Steampunk the anthology.

First up, I love steampunk. That is why I read this book.

Stories I DIDN'T LIKE:

I despised the story by Joe Landsdale possibly more than any story I have ever read. Way to completely not get the point of The Time Machine by making its protagonist a killing cannibalistic serial killer. There was no point to that story. At all. It was like it was written by a sixth grader.

I also didn't care for the The God Clown is Near by Jay Lake, although at least it was atmospheric. Gay clones interact with a mad scientist making a gigantic Frankenstein out of used parts. Or something. And then some gangsters die suddenly. For some reason.

Minutes of the Last Meeting by Stephen Chapman - I liked this a lot at first and then it just became meandering. The mesh of stories didn't seem to go together very well. I liked the idea of a depressed and omniscient computer AI doing the bidding of a totalitarian dystopian regime. But the way the story makes you somewhat care at all what is going on is going to lead to a very anticlimactic ending (the end of all life on earth). Which I feel in this instance was a cop out.

Reflected Light by Rachel Pollack - Evocative. Good point of view. I wanted more. It seems a bit unfinished.

Seventy Two Letters by Ted Chiang - I normally love Ted Chiang. So when I describe this to you as a story where guys wank it and make sea monkeys out of their cum, and then turn them into golems for twenty pages I'll save you the trouble of reading it by telling you that it is the only Chiang story I have ever disliked. Seriously. SEA MONKEY FETUSES.


The Martian Agent by Michael Chabon - Oh lordy do I love me some Michael Chabon. Wonderful use of language. Wonderful use of character. Moving, well paced, gripping and emotional throughout. The title is slightly misleading but the unexpected nature of this story is what drew me in. A+

The Giving Mouth by Ian R MacLeod - I've been a fan of Ian's before and this is without exception one of his better stories. A beautiful dystopic steampunk story that has a phenomenal ending. Tropes of hate and love, misery and depression and joy, poverty and social class all are tackled simultaneously and all with tenderness. Bravo. A

the Selene Gardening Society by Molly Brown - Funny and charming and impossible. I liked it.

Victoria by Paul Di Fillipo - I was already a fan of Mr Fillipo since I read a story of his where an eccentric drag racing alien in the 50s was responsible for global warming when his convertible fell into the sun. This was also great, and I don't care what some other reviewers have noted in that it didn't seem to have a point. I felt the characters were well executed, and the humorous nature shone through more than enough for me to enjoy the many references without being overwhelmed by them. It's Much Ado About Nothing in the land of mad scientists, I suppose.

"Excerpt from the Third and Last Volume of Tribes of the Pacific Coast" by Neal Stephenson - Now don't get me wrong. Neal is one of my top favorite authors of all time. This was like the cyberpunk version of Night of the Comet. If this was the same world as The Diamond Age, only later, then holy crap do I want more so it can be fleshed out how exactly the entirety of California became so depopulated. Gets a plus for Neal being Neal.

Stories I was completely INDIFFERENT over:

Lord Kelvin's Machine by James Blaylock - touted as the model for steampunk stories I felt that it lacked character depth. I would describe it as somewhat whimsical. I enjoyed the chase sequence. It didn't really give me a villain with an understood motive but maybe I'm being picky. It was okay.

A Sun in the Attic by Mary Gentle - I loved the setting. The world she creates was great. The ending left me a little puzzled. Normally I like enigmatic clues that I have to unravel and pore over. This didn't really unravel much, I'm afraid. Still, it gets a plus for a world where multiple marriages are considered normal. Always happy to see that. In your face, previous periods of literary censorship!

Excerpt from the Michael Moorcock "Warlord of the Air" - Meh
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
March 16, 2010 – Shelved

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