Two of them.
Both Steampunk in genre.
Steampunk, if any of you are new to the term, is a specific type of alternate history Fantasy limited to a certain (Victorian) time period -- when technology was gaining ground. My opinion is that right now we live in a technology based world and most of us would be against REALLY going back to simpler times. So we bring traditional fantasy forward.
Sci-fi has always been tech based, but now we also have Urban Fantasy and Steampunk to mix technology with our fantasy in different ways.
I love them both.
Sort of. My main love is Urban Fantasy, but there are parts of Steampunk... some wonderful parts.
I met Steampunk when it was more of an art movement adding the decoration of the Victorian era to the modern world; reminding us there was a time objects were created for beauty as well as functionality.
|Compare early Singers|
If I could have all today's functionality in that beautiful case, I know which I'd rather have.
Which brings me to my first ARC book.
The Art of Steampunk.
Which is beautiful.
The art, that is.
The book came to me early and in electronic form where the plates were not quite matched to the pictures they described. I think we can all be pretty sure that won't be the case when it really comes out.
I've seen most of these images before, online.
The artists in the Steampunk movement don't typically hide their art away so I fell in love with Datamancer's laptop YEARS ago. (So much drooling.) I recently found Tom Banwell when I decided I needed to build my own top hat (not done yet, I'll share photos when it happens).
But I still want this book. In real paper copy form that I can keep and hold and run my fingers over the edges of everything.
But that's me.
If you're happy seeing pictures on the computer screen, there's plenty out there, but if you want a permanent copy you can hold, you'll want to consider it too. This collection was put together for the first time in person at The Museum of the History of Science at Oxford University in England and it is appropriately stark and beautiful.
The other book they let me read was a novel, which was supposed to come out May 1st, but seems to be available on Amazon a little early. You can get it now.
This is the one that forces me to admit that my tastes aren't as open as I like to think. It's not bad, in the same way multiple award-winning novel Boneshaker by Cherie Priest is not bad. It just doesn't draw me in. Others LOVE it.
And when I put "love" in all-caps, I meant it. At least about Cherie Priest's books -- this one hasn't been out long enough to have made its own mark yet.
Let's talk about chapter names from, oh, let's say three randomly chosen chapters.
Chapter Three: Where Our Dashing Hero of History and Cataloguing Is Finally Granted a Proper Introduction to Miss Eliza D. Braun.
Chapter Seventeen: Wherein Mr. Books Reveals His Device and Our Daring Duo Engage in a Spot of Proper Eavesdropping for Queen and Country.
Chapter Thirty: Wherein Our Heroes Endure Perdition's Flames.
These are excellent. Wonderful. Amazing even. So it is terribly sad I did not love the book so much -- partially, I think, because the text is written in the same tone.
Let me grab a random paragraph from chapter thirty (where my Nook waited after I looked up some titles):
"Light struck his face; and by the time his eyes adjusted, he understood what was behind the screams and shouts assailing him. The manor above ground was also gripped by pandemonium. Servants appeared like rats on a sinking ship, running for the nearest exit, but not before helping themselves to anything that was not bolted or nailed down...."
I quote this because, reading it, I have to admit that it carries an unmistakable Victorian vibe which may be where I fall away from the Steampunk movement. I did not come to this place because I loved that moment in time, or the literature of the time so filled with adjectives and my own vice, commas.
I love the art.
I love making functional things beautiful.
So, to feel like I'm giving the book a fair chance, I needed you to see the way it is written; the reason I believe I didn't fall into the story and keep going. That cadence does not come naturally to me.
If your love of Steampunk is partially due to the language and the flowery expressions of the time, this book could be just the one you've been waiting for. Go give it a chance.