There are people who can’t stand an anthology. I think a lot of them read my blog. And you know what? I get it. For a long time, I hated the short story form. It was too brief, too unfinished, too…shallow. But now that I have the attention span of a gnat, I really appreciate short stories. I don’t have to stay up until 4am to finish the book. It’s there and then it’s not. Similar to how I can now eat mushrooms without gagging. Weird! It’s almost like I’m grown up or something (shhh…if we don’t tell anyone, it never happened).
In yesterday’s post I did mini-reviews of the first six stories in Corsets & Clockwork. Today I present you with the final seven. And also encourage you to check out steampink. And my steampunk giveaway!
“The Airship Gemini” by Jaclyn Dolamore
Take Siamese twins, put them on an airship over the Atlantic, and stir in a shapeshifter hoping to separate them. Result: a quirky tale just on the wrong side of believable. Part of the trouble undoubtedly lay in the length of the story (too short), but the combination of fantastical elements didn’t help either. Not without merit, but not essential.
“Under Amber Skies” by Maria V. Snyder
Snyder crafted a story of a technologically advanced Poland on the verge of World War II. While an engaging premise and mystery drive the plot, the dialogue felt forced and at times the heroine succumbed to TSTL syndrome (that’s Too Stupid To Live for you newbies out there). Partially redeemed by its twisty nature.
“The King of Greenlight City” by Tessa Gratton
A charming and surprising story that grabbed my attention and didn’t let go. It reminded me that magic is dangerous AND wondrous (which is the best sort of realization). Definitely an example of the kind of tale that takes you somewhere you didn’t expect to go, and teaches you something new about the world.
“The Emperor’s Man” by Tiffany Trent
A lovely little romance, this one. The author wove a dream-like fairy story, with just a touch of darkness for good measure and realism. Very light on steampunk, but entertaining regardless.
“Chickie Hill’s Badass Ride” by Dia Reeves
Oh. Dear. Me. Dia Reeves’ contribution took strange and turned it sideways. Not steampunk, but all sorts of weird and remarkable. I’m not sure I liked it or understood it completely, but it certainly made me sit up and notice. Bonus Factor: minorities in YA fiction!
“The Vast Machinery of Dreams” by Caitlin Kittredge
Bizarre, science-fictiony, and ultimately opaque. Written as a series of explanations of reality, this tale wasn’t straight-forward (sometimes a plus), but it also left one with a sense that they never truly knew any of the characters. If you’re here for enigmatic mysteries, this one’s for you.
“Tick, Tick, Boom” by Kiersten White
Girls dressing as boys in Victorian London? It’s becoming a cliché in steampunk circles. Thankfully White’s creation is something more than cliché. Although the romantic portion of the story feels a bit contrived, the feisty heroine is a genuine article and she (and her inventions) manage to pull off fun rather than boring. Good stuff.
As you can tell from today’s entry and part one, this collection had its moments. It was uneven, but when it was brilliant it was quite good. Frewin Jones and Tessa Gratton get A+ marks. I’m happy to report that steampunk has ARRIVED, and that I found several new-to-me authors through this short story excursion. Well worth my time, and yours, loves.
Recommended for: fans of YA paranormal romance, especially of the Clockwork Angel variety, steampunk devotees and neophytes, fans of light sci-fi, and anyone with a taste for historical fiction.
I received a finished copy of Corsets & Clockwork for review from Running Press.