Monday, January 03, 2011

Favorite Reads of 2010: Steampunk Prime

It's that time of year again--your friendly neighborhood librarians are eager to tell you about their favorite reads of 2010. Here is Daryl M. with a review:

Steampunk Prime: A Vintage Steampunk Reader
Edited by Mike Ashley

Steampunk, a sub-genre of science fiction that postulates the development of computers and other current/advanced technologies using steam instead of electricity, has been around for a few decades. But recently, Steampunk has been gaining in popularity in both books and as a cultural aesthetic (you can see Steampunk influences in recent films like Sherlock Holmes, and in a recent episode of the television series Castle). As a result, there are lots and lots of new novels and story collections from which one can select to investigate this particular segment of the literature of “what if.”

What makes Steampunk Prime an interesting and stand-out collection is that editor Mike Ashley has gathered 100-year-old stories that now fit into the contemporary Steampunk convention portrayed by current writers. And what a wonderful collection it is!

The stories cover subject matter including defining/delineating artificial life and/or intelligence, world exploration, and the threat/use of new technologies, and all are delivered with liberal doses of Victorian ethics, mores and sensibilities. And because these stories were written by authors living during the period, rather than contemporary writers trying to re-capture a bygone age, these elements have a clarity of voice and setting that so many current authors struggle to infuse into their work today (with varying degrees of success).

What is most surprising is how well the themes of these stories resonate 100 years later. Indeed, some of them could easily pass for the work of contemporary authors dealing with contemporary issues presented with the Steampunk theme. Many of the ideas explored are timeless, whether asked during the Victorian age or in a more contemporary setting. Steampunk Prime is a fascinating and enjoyable collection.

Note: This book is not yet in Burbank Public Library's collection. It is on order and will join us shortly!

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