Give me magic, gadgets, monsters, zombies, everything that seems impossible, and throw in some tough chicks with swords. That's the stuff.

Monday, May 16, 2011


I have a confession to make - I used to be a bio major. Now, as soon as I hit O-Chem and discovered that the only way I was passing was because of my stellar lab reports (mostly describing everything I did wrong), I hopped back over to my beloved books and English dept. Never really looked back, either, although I do still love experiments and scientific discovery and all that. Maybe in part because scientists are trying to discover new things, things that previous generations would have thought were impossible or magic.

As a kid, I remember fighting with my dad over the remote control. I probably wanted to watch Rainbow Brite, but he needed his weekly Dr. Who and Wild Wild West fix (Saturday and Sunday mornings used to be re-run central at my house). Usually he won and we watched episodes together every weekend. Maybe that's also why I love steampunk, with the infusion of gadgetry, alternate histories, science and adventure. So maybe it's not that steampunk is "new" as it's about time we're recognizing it.

Here's a couple of books to think about (and yes, most have some kind of paranormal element too - I like what I like).

The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer History, fashion, art, books, music, TV and Movies. Have questions about "what this whole steampunk thingy is anyways?" then check out this book.

Boneshaker (Clockwork Century Book 1) by Cherie Priest Airships, gadgets galore and zombies. Briar Wilkes must venture into the walled city of Seattle, trying to save her son, Eli, fighting zombies and mad scientists along the way. Told from both Briar and Eli's perspective, this one is non-stop action and a lot of fun. It might have a teen as a main character, but I wouldn't call this YA (a parent would never have this big a role in a YA book). I would, though, recommend it for teens looking for books beyond the high school scene. Also really enjoyed Clementine (although you might want this one as an eBook - it was a limited edition print, so copies can be hard to find) and Dreadnought.
Soulless (Parasol Protectorate Book 1) by Gail Carriger This series started feeling "steampunk" to me as the series progressed (with more gadgets coming into play in books 2 and 3), but it is usually referenced with the steampunk books, so I've got it here too. Soulless has alternate history and wonderful Victoriana, but it's missing the awesome gadgets (apart from the parasol, of course). This London is full of werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and a preternatural, a human who renders the undead mortal again by just a touch. There's mystery, mad scientists, and a fantastic romance too. Alexia has a wicked wit, and if you are a fan of Austen and paranormals, you need to read this series. I loved Soulless, but my favorite book so far is  #3 Blameless - this series just gets better as it goes along!

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld A middle school/YA trilogy about WWI, where the German Clankers (powerful metal fighting machines) square off against the Allied Darwinists (with living machines including the titular flying whale-ship). All told from the perspective of Alek, hunted son of the slain Archduke Ferdinand, and Deryn, a girl masquerading as a boy so she can fulfill her dream of being in the Air Service. Lots of adventure, great for kids and adults. Book 2 is out now, and book 3 is out this September.

The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade A middle school series about Modo, a deformed boy (found on the steps of Notre Dame) who can shift his features. He is brought up by the secretive Mr. Socrates and trained as an agent for a shadowy organization. Lots of gadgets and despicable, monstrous villains from the Clockwork Guild. Lots of fun. Book 2 is out now (it's on a submarine!) and book 3, set in Egypt, is out in September.

Some more Steampunk on my TBR list:
The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire #1) by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith OUT NOW (adult)
Phoenix Rising (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences bk 1) by Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris OUT NOW (adult)
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross out May 24 (YA)
Heartless (Parasol Protectorate #4) by Gail Carriger out July 1 (adult)
Dead Iron (Age of Steam #1) by Devon Monk out July 5 (adult)
Ganymede (Clockwork Century Book 4) by Cherie Priest out Sept. 27 (adult)

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