Thumbs up for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume I by Alan Moore. Graphic novel.
A witty romp filled with characters cleverly brought together from the great adventure works of the 19th century – Captain Nemo, Allan Quartermain, Dr. Jekyll, Mina Harker and so on. Some of the best steampunk I’ve read so far. Sadly my enjoyment of the book was soured somewhat by the stultifying prose story at the end, which reads like Alan Moore trying to sound Victorian by using too many adjectives.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. Young adult science fiction.
Finally, some steampunk I wholeheartedly enjoyed. This was the book that Airborn (see my review) should have been – wonderfully creative, vivid, and adventuresome on a grand scale. WWI is just beginning, and it’s the gigantic Germanic war machines and AT-ATs – I mean, sorry, “stormwalkers” – versus the British “Darwinist fabulations”: genetically-engineered creatures such as the eponymous Leviathan, an airship that’s sort of a whale, and is definitely an ecosystem all to itself.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Against a Dark Background by Iain M. Banks. Science fiction.
This book is stuffed with so many juicy ideas they drool out the sides. Ancient artifacts of earthshaking power, crazy relatives, Solipsists with bad dress sense, android lawyers and plant-planets, oh my! An enormously fun adventure with a strong heroine of the classic I’ve-got-a-troubled-past-but-I’ll-still-kick-your-ass type. I will say that it did suffer somewhat from writerly self-indulgence; on a grumpy day I will flatly tell you that flashbacks and dreams should be restricted to one or less of each, per book; on a happy day I will still want to go over the middle of this book with a big red pen, slashing out needless flashbacks and the four thousand endless descriptions of the mist/sun/sea.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. Science fiction.
I saw this mentioned recently in an online discussion of “most tearjerking scifi novels” and I confess, my curiosity was piqued enough to move it to the top of my to-read queue, since scifi isn’t something I generally associate with tearjerking. Well, I didn’t cry (but I rarely do); rather, what I felt about this book after finishing it was a joyous awe at having read a work of genius.… >> Read more
Thumbs down for Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. Science fiction.
This book had so much going for it. First of all: steamtech, zombies, Victorian Seattle? All kinds of awesome. Secondly, I have friends who liked it (one of whom was kind enough to lend me her copy, so I hope she’ll forgive me for giving it thumbs down). Lastly, I saw Cherie Priest speak at Steamcon and she was a hoot.… >> Read more
Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for Airborn by Kenneth Oppel. Young adult science fiction.
Another in the steampunk line. Not bad, though for a book aimed at fourteen-year-old boys, I would have expected a little more swashbuckling. There’s nothing out of place that I can point to, I just wish it had been “gripping” rather than “mildly enjoyable.”
“Well, no, [grandfather] wasn’t [willing to take me on an expedition].
… >> Read more
Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for Infernal Devices by K. W. Jeter. Science fiction.
I like that Jeter writes with authentic Victorian diction, and does it well. Unfortunately, however, I found neither character nor world nor plot particularly attractive, and so while there is nothing really wrong with this book (and indeed it is plenty full of incident) I found it mostly useful as a soporific.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. Science fiction.
It was on a list of Steampunk books, which it isn’t quite, but I knew that already. Never mind, since I love Stephenson. (When I was thirteen, I read and re-read Snow Crash until my copy became completely thrashed and bath-ripply. Oh the nostalgia.) This one is tricky to review.… >> Read more