Tag Archives: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk

The Mammoth Book of Steampunk edited by Sean Wallace

Overview
The Mammoth Book of Steampunk

Title: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk
Author: Sean Wallace, Ekaterina Sedia, Jeff VanderMeer, Caitlin R. Kiernan, E. Catherine Tobler, Jay Lake, Genevieve Valentine, Cat Rambo, Shweta Narayan, Aliette de Bodard, N.K. Jemisin, Peter M. Ball, Sharon Mock, Catherynne M. Valente, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Eileen Gunn, Michael Swanwick, Tobias S. Buckell, Matthew Kressel, Margo Lanagan, Amal El-Mohtar, Barth Anderson, Jeffrey Ford, James Morrow, Cherie Priest, Margaret Ronald, Megan Arkenberg, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Mary Robinette Kowal, Samantha Henderson, Nick Mamatas, Nicole Kornher-Stace & Lavie Tidhar
Series: Mammoth Books
In: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Short story collections, Steampunk
Dates read: 3rd October 2018 – 6th March 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: He was in his library, or so he called it, a small room that smelled of pipe tobacco and old leather, so close that one could barely breathe.

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Synopsis

30 anarchic mash-ups of past and future that push the boundaries of steampunk.

Great steampunk stories confront an uneasy history of oppression – of women, other ‘races’ and classes – and the abuse of science, by reimagining the past. The writers represented in this outsatnding collection look to the future through the lens of the past, imagining worlds in which technology is used to uplift rather than to oppress.

Thoughts

I’ve only recently gotten involved in steampunk. It’s a genre that I only started reading late last year and one that I kind of love. Although, as I discovered with this collection of short stories, it is also a genre that I have to concentrate a little more to read (unlike genre such as romance).

This anthology runs the gambit of steampunk stories and brings a number of themes, styles and settings to life. It is a perfect way to completely disappear from the world after a long day. Although, with many of the themes, once you have finished the story you are thrown back into reality ten times more heavily than you were before. After all, most of these stories have a great commentary about the world that we live in today.

From capitalism to feminist movements, every major issue and discussion that seems to be occurring in modern society is touched upon in this collection. Yet, these aren’t all serious commentaries on the world. Some of the stories are kind of hilarious, and some are downright weird. The one thing that they all have in common is that they are thoroughly enjoyable and have helped to give me a new addiction.

 <- The Traitor ReviewSteampunk: Looking to the Future Through the Lens of the Past Review ->
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The Ballad of the Last Human by Lavie Tidhar

Overview
The Mammoth Book of Steampunk

Title: The Ballad of the Last Human
Author: Lavie Tidhar
In: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Steampunk
Dates read: 6th March 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: They looked at the water and it seemed to form a strange, alien face, moonlight and moonshade adding to the semblance of a figure that mouthed words at them without sound.

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Synopsis

Dogs and spiders can be best friends too… and they can go on many epic adventures in the mean time.

Thoughts

I kind of found it fitting that The Mammoth Book of Steampunk ended with a story called The Last Ballad. And that it talked about epic adventures by two best friends (who happen to be a dog and a spider) as they sail off into the sunset. An incredibly fitting ending to a very intense collection of stories.

This isn’t one of those stories that I really remember exactly what happened. It was just an easy and fun read. One that, whilst I might not remember the central storyline, I did certainly remember the end of the tale. Like I said, the imagery of riding off into the sunset together for more steampunk-esque adventures.

 <- To Seek Her Fortune ReviewThe Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures Review ->
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To Seek Her Fortune by Nicole Kornher-Stace

Overview
The Mammoth Book of Steampunk

Title: To Seek Her Fortune
Author: Nicole Kornher-Stace
In: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Steampunk
Dates read: 6th March 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: The dice had earned him a week free of maintenance duties and a tidy heap of coins – round, ringed, hexagonal, octagonal, brass, copper, silver, lead – by the time his mother emerged from the laboratory, flushed with agitation and worrying at a sleeve.

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Synopsis

Lady Explorer has managed to rise in the ranks and overcome her past. But she keeps searching for something, some sign of the future.

Thoughts

I really liked this short story. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with it… but the idea of a woman in a position of power constantly trying to protect her son drew me in immediately. Especially when it was obvious that she is exhausted and almost just existing for her child.

The flashbacks as to how Lady Explorer rose in power work really well with the storyline. As does the quick passages of time. The jumpiness of the timeline gave the story a far more surreal edge and one that I think worked well with the theme and protectiveness of an exhausted mother.

 <- Arbeitskraft ReviewThe Ballad of the Last Human Review ->
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Arbeitskraft by Nick Mamatas

Overview
The Mammoth Book of Steampunk

Title: Arbeitskraft
Author: Nick Mamatas
In: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Steampunk
Dates read: 19th February 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: A great buzzing rose up from the device and a flickering illumination filled the room.

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Synopsis

Is it the time for a revolution? Or is this mad man just another over-privileged man from the upper class, trying to enforce his own ideals?

Thoughts

I enjoyed the fact that this short story was split into a series of almost interconnected chapters and stories. They create one long journey, but they also have a series of smaller moments that can be read independently of one another. I don’t often enjoy chapters (and so many chapters) in a short story. But Mamatas worked this perfectly and I almost found it more difficult to put the story down because of the stop-start flow of the tale.

The part of this story that struck me most heavily is that although the protagonist is trying to bring about change for the better, he’s not really doing it in all that great-a-way. First of all, he’s trying to bring about change and equality when he’s part of the upper class. He’s also forcing people to conform to his view of thinking and not listening to theirs. It’s forcing his ideas of equality on others and not actually listening to their views – which isn’t any kind of form of equality really.

 <- Cinderella Suicide ReviewTo Seek Her Fortune Review ->
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Cinderella Suicide by Samantha Henderson

Overview
The Mammoth Book of Steampunk

Title: Cinderella Suicide
Author: Samantha Henderson
In: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Steampunk
Dates read: 18th February 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: We huddled and Tintype unrolled his latest pulp, removing a thin film of tissue as he did.

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Synopsis

They’re all trying to escape their convict status, but will it be possible in the intense world of Australia?

Thoughts

It took me a little longer than I would have liked to really click as to what this story was even about. Although, a lot of that is probably because of the fact that I was trying to watch someone play Far Cry whilst also reading a steampunk story… not a combination that really works surprisingly.

There is something about having a steampunk theme set against Australia that worked incredibly well. Normally when I think of steampunk stories, I mostly imagine Victorian London, or similar locations and eras. Using the convicts in Australia as the backdrop instead surprised me. And completely drew me in. It’s a slightly different take on the history of the land that I live on…

 <- Clockwork Chickadee ReviewArbeitskraft Review ->
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Clockwork Chickadee by Mary Robinette Kowal

Overview
The Mammoth Book of Steampunk

Title: Clockwork Chickadee
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
In: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Steampunk
Dates read: 13th February 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: “What fountain?”

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Synopsis

The Clockwork Chickadee is getting a little bored with the Sparrows constant bragging. So, with a little trickery and intelligence, he manages to turn it all on it’s head.

Thoughts

There was quite a bit of jealousy in this short story. Jealousy of another’s position, but also a little bit of frustration in not accepting the different benefits that one has. For the chickadee, being constantly on the ground allows her to see the world from an entirely different perspective from that of the sparrow who constantly flies.

I was expecting the stuck up sparrow to get a little bit of come-uppance in this story, but I was kind of shocked about how bad it really was. And how little the rest of the characters, especially the chickadee. The chickadee was honestly more than a little creepy with her lust for revenge and complete acceptance of the way that everything ends…

 <- Biographical Notes ReviewCinderella Suicide Review ->
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Biographical Notes to “A Discourse on the Nature of Causality, with Air-places” by Benjamin Rosenbaum

Overview
The Mammoth Book of Steampunk

Title: Biographical Notes to “A Discourse on the Nature of Causality, with Air-places” by Benjamin Rosenbaum
Author: Benjamin Rosenbaum
In: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 2 (Managed to read it… just)
My Bookshelves: Steampunk
Dates read: 30th January 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: It was sleek and narrow and black, designed for maneuverability.

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Synopsis

It’s a little hard to write a synopsis when you’re not entirely sure what you read. Sorry.

Thoughts

To be honest, I’m not all too sure what actually happened in this short story. I vaguely followed along with the storyline, but actually figuring out completely what was going on… I’m really not sure. Unlike the other steampunk short stories that I’ve read, this one didn’t seem to have a clear message in the vagueness of the storyline either.

The only real message and poignancy that I got out of this was the fact that religion and belief systems can cause wars. There were numerous mentions throughout of different religions. Numerous ways in which people’s beliefs seemed to twist and turn towards catastrophe. But beyond that… I really got nothing…

 <- The Celebrated Carousel of the Margravine of Blois ReviewClockwork Chickadee Review ->
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The Celebrated Carousel of the Margravine of Blois by Megan Arkenberg

Overview
The Mammoth Book of Steampunk

Title: The Carousel of the Margravine of Blois
Author: Megan Arkenberg
In: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: GhostsRomance, Steampunk
Dates read: 29th January 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: “I trust your tastes are not so common, M’sieur Saint-Pierre.”

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Synopsis

M’sieur Saint-Pierre is in a house that is haunted, but he’s not quite sure who is doing the haunting here…

Thoughts

I’ve never had the soul wrenching experience of losing someone who I dearly love. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve lost grandparents and in-laws. But I’ve not lost my partner, I’ve not lost the person I love most in all of the world. And I honestly can’t even begin to fathom what kind of pain that is. So a beautiful little story about two people struggling with that loss and trying to find a way to move on.

Love can be haunting, and so it kind of seemed fitting that this was a bit of a steampunk ghost story. Or at least, it was a tale of hunting for ghosts, and mostly finding them. And then realising that the best way to live is to put the spirits to rest and move on. For both of them.

I found this short story kind of nostalgic and sweet. But it also had a beautiful sense of hope for the future. One that left me with a nice, warm feeling in the pit of my stomach.

 <- A Serpent in the Gears ReviewBiographical Notes to “A Discourse on the Nature of Causality, with Air-planes” Review ->
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A Serpent in the Gears by Margaret Ronald

Overview
The Mammoth Book of Steampunk

Title: A Serpent in the Gears
Author: Margaret Ronald
In: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Steampunk
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: A second concussion rumbled below us, this one more distant, and from down the hall I heard the captain’s cursing take on a note of relief.

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Synopsis

A mission of science and politics quickly turns into something more where the Merged are taking over and imminent war is on the horizon.

Thoughts

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…

I like the idea of a mix of machinery and mechanics being foreign. Most of the steampunk stories that I read take it for granted that the vast majority of the characters have a mix of the two systems in their bodies. The fact that this was an oddity and something that made others uncomfortable was something I found a little more relatable. After all… it’s something that is kind of happening now and I’m not really sure how I feel about running around with mechanical systems inside me…

As with all steampunk short stories, I’m not really sure what the message was. And I feel like I probably even missed plot points that I would pick up on if I went back and read it again (which I will in the future). But for now… I thoroughly enjoyed the imagery and the journey that this short story took me on.

 <- Reluctance ReviewThe Celebrated Carousel of the Margravine of Blois Review ->
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Reluctance by Cherie Priest

Overview
The Mammoth Book of Steampunk

Title: Reluctance
Author: Cherie Priest
In: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves:  SteampunkWesterns
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: He moved like a compass pinned to a map.

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Synopsis

A regular pit stop to change his aircraft and swap over his loads in Reluctance becomes something far more sinister and worrying in this fantastic short story.

Thoughts

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.

Having said that, when I remembered which story this was. I remembered how much I enjoyed it at the time. Actually, it kind of made me think of Firefly. Which I miss. And I’m annoyed that it was only one season… but I digress. It had that great western cowboy feel to it. partnered with the futuristic spaceships and steampunk machinery. A fantastic little world to lose yourself in for ten, fifteen minutes.

 <- Lady Witherspoon’s Solution ReviewA Serpent in the Gears Review ->
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