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Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution
edited by Ann VanderMeer
Tachyon, 432 pages

Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution
Ann VanderMeer
Ann VanderMeer has been a publisher and editor for over twenty years who served as the fiction editor of Weird Tales and as a guest editor for Best American Fantasy. She is the founder of the award-winning Buzzcity Press. Work from her press and related periodicals has won the British Fantasy Award, the International Rhysling Award, and appeared in several year's best anthologies. Ann was also the founder of The Silver Web magazine, a periodical devoted to experimental and avant-garde fantasy literature.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities
SF Site Review: Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded
SF Site Review: Best American Fantasy 2008
SF Site Review: Steampunk
SF Site Review: The New Weird
SF Site Review: The Silver Web, Issue 15
SF Site Review: The Silver Web, Issue 15

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sandra Scholes

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Neo-Victoriana is a special realm of fantasy for many fiction writers and in this, the third volume of the Steampunk series, over twenty fiction stories and four non-fiction stories have been written by such acclaimed writers Caitlin R. Kiernan, Genevieve Valentine, Bruce Sterling, Garth Nix, Jeff Vandermeer, Nick Mamatas and JY Yang. They take readers through the cities of the Far East, where mad scientists, lethal assassins and adventurers dare to go but where no woman could ever venture, and with some of the most interesting real characters like Bram Stoker and Karl Marx. These stories have something everyone can enjoy.

Ann Vandermeer the editor of this anthology is also the Hugo Award-winning editor of Weird Tales and the publisher of Buzzcity Press. She is an expert on the Victorian period, co-editor of World Fantasy Award-nominated anthologies Steampunk and Steampunk II. She has also worked on other anthologies, the Best American Fantasy and Leviathan series, The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals, The New Weird and Last Drink, Bird Head. Weird Fiction Review is one of her new projects as well as being Consulting Fiction Editor at Tor.com. One could say she has been very busy, but thankfully not too busy to edit this anthology.

The first thing that greets the reader is the cover art of a rusty robot, or at least one you could imagine as being a Victorian version should steampunk have happened. And once you turn the pages, you will find the interior art that takes you into the steampunk era with block print style illustrations of aircraft and mechanical devices. Even the contents pages have contraption illustrations on them and serve to lure the reader in to that era even before they get to the stories. When they do, there will be no doubt as to how good they are.

Jeff and Ann Vandermeer didn't know how successful their book would be when they first published Steampunk in 2008, not realizing that retro-futurism had already become hugely popular over the past few years. There had only been a few movies made featuring steampunk but there are hopes that there may be more in the near future. Each story in this volume is an exploration of the steampunk idea which approaches them in different ways. The reason for this new book was to expand on the previous two books, and see how steampunk could change the world. In these stories several characters are also explored as what ifs -- what would happen if Karl Marx had liberated a factory and its workers or what happens when a woman wants her freedom from the roles associated with women in Victorian society? The ideas of tolerance and respect of other people's backgrounds and intellect are also the sum of these stories. As Ann Vandemeer would say, good fiction is all about the questions.

"Harry Marlowe and the Talisman of the Cult of Egil" by Carrie Vaughn

A woman possesses an artefact from another place and intends to give it back to the people it had come from -- the Aetherians. An Aetherian being had come to Earth, but it wasn't a normal planned visit, the craft he came in had crash-landed, accidentally making it known to someone important. This tells the story of what happens afterwards, and pieces together all the clues for an interesting trail through time.

"Addison Howell and the Clockroach" by Cherie Priest

This has three accounts of what people knew about Addison Howell who made his presence known in Humptulips, a small town where everyone dislikes newcomers. They also don't like people who they think are strange, and like him even less as he is a rich man around those who can barely afford anything other than food in their bellies and clothes on their backs. He keeps himself to himself, and that sparks their interest in his life there. What makes it harder for him is they don't like the noise he makes as it causes the townspeople to want rid of him, but his work is important as they are about to find out.

"Sir Ranulph Wykeham-Rackham, GBE, a.k.a. Roboticus the All-Knowing" by Lev Grossman

Wykeham-Rackham started out life as an aesthete and generally flamboyant rake, a friend of Oscar Wilde, even after his most famous case of indecency, and trial and felt lonely after his death. Later he goes to make a man of himself in the First World War, but even that did not go according to plan when his body becomes severely damaged. When he is taken to safety, he becomes part of an experiment to rebuild his body to see if he can exist as normal as possible in a mechanical body. Even this doesn't go to plan, though as he comes up against some unusual men who would use him to get them monetary gain rather than befriend him as a fellow man. We never get to see how much of a likeable rake he becomes, but the story is enjoyable, and ends sad in a way.

These are just a few of the stories in this anthology and most of them are short and sweet. For those who like to read longer stories, they are here too and they cater for every taste.

Copyright © 2013 Sandra Scholes

Sandra has had her non-fiction and reviews published by The British Fantasy Society, Fantasy Book Review, Love Romance Passion and Active Anime, but hates seeing all this darned snow.


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