Monday, 4 February 2013

Review: 'Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded' Edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer

Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, 2010, Tachyon Publications, $14.95, softbound, 426 pages. Category/Genre: steampunk. Cover: Cool. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million.

The second steampunk anthology in a series by Tachyon Publications, Steampunk II has a wide selection of stories and writing styles. From Tanith Lee to Caitlin R. Kiernan, Gail Carriger, Stephen Baxter, and William Gibson, this book runs the gamut on authors. 

There's something in here for every lover of steampunk: romance, adventure, horror, and the very odd. One story, 'Wild Copper,' by Samantha Henderson, even takes a fairy story, wraps it up in a Native American folk tale, and delivers it in true steampunk fashion. The stories take place in the Wild West, the Far East, and Victorian England. There's a retelling of 'The Orient Express' ('The Unbecoming of Virgil Smythe' by Ramsey Shehadeh) as well as a tale based on a South Indian epic ('The Mechanical Aviary of Emperor Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar' by Shweta Narayan). 

Personally, we didn't care for the truly odd ones nearly as much as we did the adventure stories. 'A Serpent in the Gears' by Margaret Ronald was exceptionally good. It was about a valet serving a colonel aboard a dirigible that was headed for dangerous territory. The valet was not what he seemed, and there were some really good discoveries in this story. 

Another story we liked was 'Balfour and Meriweather in the Adventure of the Emperor's Vengance' by Daniel Abraham. This one had a pair of Her Majesty's special agents solving a mystery and then fighting mechanical monsters. 

'As Recorded on Brass Cylinders: Adagio for Two Dancers' by James L. Grant and Lisa Mantchev was an interesting story about a pair of estranged lovers who are more machine than human; 'The Strange Case of Mr. Salad Monday' by G.D. Falksen was humourous as well as adventurous; and 'Wild Copper' by Samantha Henderson, was an interesting mix of faeries, Native American folklore, and steampunk.

We didn't care at all for 'A Secret History of Steampunk' by the Mecha-Ostrich, et. al. Too weird. 

All in all, a good book with a nice arrangement of stories. 

Note: strong language, racial slur, sexual situations, and blasphemy. 

If you liked this one, try: suggestions?     

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