December 13, 2010
Steampunk Week Reviews: Invisible Things and Boneshaker
Invisible Things by Jenny Davidson is a sequel/companion book to The Explosionist. It will be a bit difficult for anyone who hasn't read the first book to get their bearings within the ongoing story events, but if alternate history is your thing, then you'll no doubt want to chase down both books. The story presents readers with an alternate pre-World-War-II, one with a very different set of political alliances but some of the same motivations of aggression, greed and desire for control. It's an intriguing setting that blends the developing nuclear technologies of the time period with neo-Victorian spiritualism, and poses a number of interesting what-if questions about the history and the scientific politics of the era.
Oh, and I absolutely adore her cat, Trismegistus, who evidently demanded an ongoing presence in the book. I, too, have an overfed but muscular cat, but she's not nearly as imposing.
Buy Invisible Things from an independent bookstore near you!
And, trust me, there's a lot of mettle-testing to be had in this world. While the States further east are struggling with the depredations of the Civil War, the Pacific Northwest is suffering the aftermath of a horrific incident: a runaway ice-drilling machine that ravaged the center of Seattle. Inventor Leviticus Blue invented the Boneshaker to drill for gold in the frozen Klondike, but when his invention ran amok, it destroyed the city center and released a zombie-producing Blight gas from underground. Years later, Blue's widow, Briar, has been trying to raise and support her son outside the walls of the poisoned city center. But Zeke gets it into his head to try to find out more about who he is and who his father was—and to do that, he starts on a mad journey back into the city center to Leviticus and Briar's old house. Briar wrangles a spot on an illicit pirate airship in order to go after him, and it's nonstop adventure and action from then on; from the very beginning, actually.
Boneshaker has it all—a fully realized, detailed setting; a consistent tone (with only a few tiny anachronisms here and there) that's established down to the tiny details of language; well fleshed-out and relatable main characters; and a rip-roaring good story that's just plain fun. Priest's alternate Seattle is populated with sympathetic side characters, a scary Dr.-Mengele-like villain, and, of course, wandering hordes of the living dead. What more could you want?
Buy Boneshaker from an independent bookstore near you!