This was a slightly easier read for a steampunk short story than what I have been immersing myself in lately. Or maybe I was just a little more awake and lucid…
When I finally sat down to write this review a few days after finishing Reluctance, it took me a little while to recall what it was about. It isn’t one of those stories that glaringly sits in my mind. And that’s mostly because it was just a fun and easy read. It’s very good, but it’s not the sort of story that I usually read, and, unlike many of the other books in this collection, it didn’t have an overwhelming message that I took away when I’d turned the last page.
The imagery invoked in this image has layer upon layer of meaning which unfold as the story does. At the outset, it seems to be a slightly different approach and take to a scientific endeavour to the reaches of the unknown. Then there is the slow unravelling of just who the unknown people on the island are. And it makes you question the everyday world and the patriarchy in which we currently live.
Most of the steampunk stories I read about are kind of based after an apocalyptic time, they’re definitely in a world run by steam engines and they have this beautiful surreal quality to them. Dr Lash Remembers has all of this too. But it also has this sense of anarchy. Rebelling against the government and taking back one’s own autonomy in the face of a lot of insanity.
Time is a human construct. Ideas of it change across cultures and peoples. Across time and space. So it was kind of fun to read a steampunk short story that featured time in a number of ways. From the current idea of time in the story. Which from my understanding was controlled by each individual clockmaker to the more common and well-known ideal of time. The idea that it is uniform and governs everything.
The notion of dream crowns and the ways in which these can work was completely foreign to me. I loved the idea of layer upon layer of intricate memory and thoughts. The way that emotions are literally carved into stone to give a beautiful and long-lasting way to live in one’s own happiness. And I also loved the way in which this dreamscape is layered upon a questing desire and an LGBTQI desire.
I was wondering how the woman in this was going to overcome her quite clearly obnoxious husband and slightly awful circumstances. I was also wondering what kind of message would be imparted in this steampunk short story. And I really wasn’t disappointed…. Using wits and a bit more blood thirst than I’m used to, she is able to free herself. But, it is only after she has done so that she truly wonders at the cost of such an action.
I enjoyed the slight hint of an LGBTQI relationship throughout this story – it wasn’t intense and overbearing, but there was enough that this short story gets put on the LGBTQI shelf in my collection. I also liked that you constantly questioned the actual motives of Divya as you could further see Jessica falling for her… there was just something slightly and uncomfortably off in their interactions that doesn’t truly click until the very end of the storyline when everything is revealed.
This is the second steampunk story I’ve read in a while that features aspects of Mayan mythology throughout the storyline. And it works weirdly, and beautifully well. Actually, incredibly surprisingly. I’m used to Victorian London, Europe and even Northern America featured in steampunk stories. It’s very different and beautiful to have such vividly descriptive worlds combining and crashing together.
I don’t know where to put this story in my head and my heart. I really enjoyed the ways in which Radio, Amelia and Ruddy’s different journeys all intermingled together to structure the entire story. I loved the idea of a set of weird, bodiless brains controlling the population and the commentary on how technology rules our lives. Or at least, that’s what I got out of it.