Review No. 51 – Steampunk!

Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories – edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant

Walker Books Ltd., 2011

Steampunk is a branch of alternative history where corsets and clockwork co-exist with automatons and time machines, and there are almost always zeppelins. It is a concept open to constant reinterpretation, which is what Link and Grant’s anthology is all about. Contributing authors include Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Garth Nix and Link herself – there are also stories by graphic novel artists Shawn Cheng and Queensland’s own Kathleen Jennings. In Steampunk! you will encounter lovestruck automatons, murderous orphans, flying bushrangers, Roman oracles and so very much more.

My familiarity with this genre is limited to Gail Carringer’s Soulless and Cassandra Clare’s trilogy ‘The Infernal Devices’ – mostly, I just admire the hats on Etsy – but the stories in Steampunk! are a rich and diverse collection. Most are set in America, if not always a familiar version, but there are works that explore further afield, from Wales to Australia and the South Pacific, to interplanetary colonies. It was a particular pleasure for me, as an Australian, to see a new take on the legend of Ned Kelly. Whether you like steampunk already or have never heard of it before, these stories are all examples of skilled writing and brilliant imagination.

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