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As we all know Mary Shelley wrote sci-fi before H. G. Wells or Jules Verne and was one of the main pioneers of the genre. Everyone’s familiar with Frankenstein and probably everyone looking at this post has read it. It is the first mad-scientist sub genre book and many consider it  the first work which can logically be labeled sci-fi.  But I’m going to talk about a lesser known book of hers that is also significant to the sci-fi  genre, The Last Man. It is the first written work  of the sci-fi sub genre of a sole survivor of earth. A still popular plot, often used in books and movies two hundred years later.

A good place to start with Mary Shelley’s work is with Mary herself. Mary Wollenstoncraft, an author and the most important feminist of the day, died due to child birth complications nine days after giving birth to her daughter, Mary Wollenstoncraft Godwin. Mary’s father was the famed philosopher and author, William Godwin. Shortly after his wife’s death, William married Mary Jane Clairmont. Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin grew up in a household with her half sister, Fanny Imlay, from a liaison her mother had with an American, and her step mothers’ two children from a previous marriage, Charles and Claire Clairmont, and her half-brother William, the child of her father and his  new wife.

When she was 16 Mary fell in love with the poet, Percy Shelley and ran off with him, even though he was married. Mary gave birth seven months into her first pregnancy and the premature baby died shortly after. Her next pregnancy produced a healthy son, William. Soon after that, Percy’s wife, Harriet,  drowned herself and her unborn child. Then Mary’s half sister, Fanny, committed suicide.  After that, Mary gave birth to a daughter, Clara. That child died a year later and the next year her son William died. She became pregnant again and gave birth to her son, Percy,  the only child who survived. After that Mary suffered a dangerous miscarriage she barely survived. Then her husband drowned in a boating accident. By the time all this loss occurred, Mary was only 24 years old. In the few sentences above, these facts about her life, we can see the tragedies she experienced contributed to her creations of both Frankenstein and The Last Man and gave her the emotions she needed to pull from to write them.

I also wanted to mention that at the time they were first published both Frankenstein and The Last Man received terrible reviews but both sold well and were widely talked about by readers of the day. Shelley was a brave author who wrote what she wanted to write even if it went against political, religious or social beliefs of the time. We owe much to her for that. The sci-fi genre owes much to Mary Shelley for that.

“The last day passed thus: each moment contained eternity; although when hour after hour had gone by, I wondered at the quick flight of time. Yet even now I had not drunk the bitter potion to the dregs; I was not yet persuaded of my loss; I did not yet feel in every pulsation in every nerve , in every thought that I remained alone of my race, — that I was the LAST MAN.”

The Last Man is set in the 21st century and written in first person. The writing is elegant with marvelous description. Verney tells the story of his life. Through mistakes of his father, he and his sister, Perdita,  are cast out of a happy life into one of poor lonely orphans.  He forms a plan of vengeance against the people who brought this ruin. The main culprit was the king, who is dead. When the king’s son, Adrian, comes to Verney’s town he sets his plan in motion. However, Adrian turns out to be a great supporter of Verney’s  late father. Verney rises from his life of despair and longing with the help of Adrian, who becomes his lifelong best friend.  This circle of six friends: Verney, Perdita, Adrian a poet and intellectual , Raymond a hero nobleman (who marries Perdita) , Adrian’s sister, Idris  (who marries Verney) and Evadne, a Greek princess, have many ups and downs in their lives. Eventually, most end up married with children and quite happy and settled. But Perdita’s husband, Raymond, cheats on her with Evadne.  So Perdita leaves Raymond. A war between the Greeks and the Turks break out and Raymond fights in it as does Evadne. She dies on the battlefield and Verney finds her body and buries her. As Raymond is on his death bed from mortal war wounds, Perdita goes to him and forgives him. When he dies, she kills herself.

Soon after this an epidemic begins. It’s unknown what causes it or how it spreads. It goes from country to country. For a long time England is untouched by it. Due to the plague and several natural disasters in different parts of the world, England is filled with immigrants. Then the symptoms reach a patient in a hospital in London. In the year 2096 the few survivors of the plague in England decide to leave and find some untouched part of the world. Verney, Adrian, and their families are at the forefront of this group.

They sail from England, leaving it depopulated. The group decides to pass the hot months in the icy valley of Switzerland. As they journey there Idris, Verney’s wife. dies from the plague. By the time they arrive in Switzerland it, like every other place, is empty of people. After seven years the plague ends. Thinking danger has passed they leave the alps to go into Italy and pass the winter in Milan. Then they  spend the summer in a villa by a lake. There one of the children is struck with a sudden fever and dies. They burry the child and sail their skiff toward Athens. But a storm overtakes the ship . Everyone is drowned in the shipwreck except Verney.

Verney enters the town of Ravenna near where the wreck occurred. He sees oxen, dogs, horses, birds, and other animals but no men among them. After staying a while in Ravennna, he heads to Rome, the capital of the world, the crown of man’s achievement. He finds pens and paper and writes a book about his life, which is the book – The Last Man.  He leaves it in the ancient city of this world as a sole monument of Verney the LAST MAN. He then leaves Rome to sail around the shores of deserted Earth.

The Last Man is elegantly written with marvelous descriptions. It is written in first person with complicated characters. However, keep in mind it is written in the Regency era for Regency era readers. In that time period writing did not demand nor did the readers want fast pacing, hooks or a balance of dialogue and narrative. This book has far more narrative than dialogue. Therefore it may be slow reading for us modern readers. I had to push myself to get through it at times, but I am so glad I read it.

The next time you are writing, reading, or watching a movie or TV show with a mad scientist or sole survivor on earth plot, take a silent moment to thank Mary Shelley. And if you’re at a con or other event and someone says something like women are new to Sci-Fi, you might just want to remind them that women have been reading and wiring Sci-Fi for over two hundred years.

~       ~        ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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Carousel Horse(photo from http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/)

The circus was a big part of British life in the mid-1800s. Much like the one run by Belinda’s great-uncle, traveling troupes featured side shows, trick riding, acrobats, clowns, and animal taming, along with early carnival rides. Some traveled by train, others by caravan, and my imagination has applied the steampunk elements. For a good article on Victorian circus, you can go here, to an article from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Here’s a tiny taste of what Connor and Belinda find when they go undercover in the circus: (excerpt ©2013 by Cindy Spencer Pape)

The morning of the circus opening was hectic, but Connor couldn’t help a sense of exhilaration. A crowd of people crowded around the fence watched anxiously as Nicky Smith, the owner’s nephew and mechanical army survivor, stoked the calliope, and performers scurried back and forth getting ready. The scents of animals and roasting peanuts filled the air.

Connor, in his role as assistant ringmaster, was meant to patrol the grounds, nominally overseeing all the workers, but mostly watching the crowd for their adversaries. Today’s goal was to establish that the magick in the circus as real and make sure it was impressive enough that word would spread. He’d spoke to Merrick and Fergus about the Builders’ Guild and the Architecture and Arts Association the night before, and Merrick would look into those today while the circus was busy here.

About half an hour before the gates opened, Connor ducked into the fortune-teller’s tent to make sure Belinda was ready to go. Rowan’s tail thumped as Connor walked in and the dog stuck his big head up for Connor’s scratch. Connor rubbed a wiry ear, but he only had eyes for Belinda. He’d grown used to her simple gypsy clothing of bright skirts and a peasant blouse during the last few days, but today she’d added to it, with brassy bangles on both wrists, big hoops in her ears and a red scarf covering the top of her head, while her dark curls spilled out from underneath. Even in layers of mismatched styles and colors, she still looked good enough to eat as she smiled up at him, her grandmother’s tarot cards in her hands.

“All set?” Willow and Rowan, sprawled on either side of her, shifted to make room for Connor.

Belinda nodded. “I remember my lessons on how to fake a reading in the crystal ball, and I’ve memorized what the various lines on a palm are supposed to mean. I practiced this week on most of our co-conspirators, so I think I’m ready.”

He slid into the chair opposite hers. “Show me.”

Belinda lifted an eyebrow. “You want me to read your fortune?”

“Exactly.” He winked.

“Very well, most honored sir.” She slipped into the persona he’d seen her practicing all week. “Would milord prefer the cards, to have his palm read or to plumb the mysteries of the crystal ball?”

“Oh, the crystal ball, by all means.” He settled into his seat, enjoying the show.

Her dark eyes twinkled up at him. “For the spirits to come, you must honor them with silver. Five shillings, if you please.” She held out her palm.

Connor handed her a five-shilling coin.

“You are most gracious, sir, as well as handsome.” Belinda laid both hands on the large quartz globe on a silver-plated stand in front of her and peered into it. “Think of a question, concentrate on the answers you wish the spirits to provide.”

“Very well.” He grinned back. “I have my question.”

He could feel her gaze dart to him when she wasn’t looking into the ball. “I see an image beginning to form,” she said. “A man? No, ’tis a woman. Her hair is dark, ah yes, but it isn’t your wife, no…she’s younger. A sister, perhaps? I see. Her eyes are just like yours—no, not in color, but the expression, the intelligence and humor, those are the same, are they not?”

“Give over,” Connor said, impressed by her acumen. “How did you know I was thinking of Melody?”

*****

Contest: In conjunction with the release of Cards & Caravans, Cindy is running a contest for a $25.00 gift card to the e-book distributor of your choice, plus the chance to name a character in the next Gaslight Chronicles story. To enter, visit the “Contact Cindy” page on her website and send her a note. Mention which blog you saw this on and some little detail about the post. One entry per person per blog post. The complete rules and a list of post locations and dates are available on the “Contest” page on Cindy’s site.

 *****

Cards&Caravans_final About the Book: Cards & Caravans is book 5 in the Gaslight Chronicles steampunk romance series, and releases from Carina Press on March 18. Find out more here.

Blurb: Belinda Danvers isn’t a witch. But that won’t stop them burning her at the stake…

Connor McKay can tell at a glance that Belinda’s magickal powers are minimal at best. She can’t be guilty of murdering village children. There’s something suspicious about her arrest and lightning-quick sentence. Unfortunately, telling anyone how he knows would mean revealing his own powers. He’s been sent by the Order of the Round Table to help and he can’t just let her die.

Escaping from jail and running from vindictive villagers in her grandfather’s steam-powered caravan is more excitement than Belinda’s had in years. And despite the danger–or maybe because of it–she loves the time spent with her sexy rescuer. But there’s more to his magick than he’s letting on…

There’s something going on that’s bigger than the two of them. It’s time for good to make a stand.

Review: 4 Stars from Romantic Times: “All the trappings of a good steampunk novel are here..but most enchanting of all is the love that develops between the hero and heroine.

*****

About the Author: Cindy S391766_509428429076163_422038333_npencer Pape firmly believes in happily-ever-after and brings that to her writing. Award-winning author of 16 novels and more than 30 shorter works, Cindy lives in southeast Michigan with her husband, two sons and a houseful of pets. When not hard at work writing she can be found dressing up for steampunk parties and Renaissance fairs, or with her nose buried in a book. Catch her online at:

Website: http://www.cindyspencerpape.com

Blog: http://cindyspencerpape.blogspot.com/

Newsletter group: http://yhoo.it/ni7PHo

Twitter: http://twitter.com/CindySPape

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/gjbLLC

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It’s Book Monday. One lucky commenter will win a copy!

CUTTLEFISH

by Dave Freer

Copy provided by PYR

The smallest thing can change the path of history.

The year is 1976, and the British Empire still spans the globe. Coal drives the world, and the smog of it hangs thick over the canals of London.

Clara Calland is on the run. Hunted, along with her scientist mother, by Menshevik spies and Imperial soldiers, they flee Ireland for London. They must escape airships, treachery, and capture. Under flooded London’s canals, they join the rebels who live in the dank tunnels there.

Tim Barnabas is one of the underpeople, born to the secret town of drowned London, place of anti-imperialist republicans and Irish rebels, part of the Liberty—the people who would see a return to older values and free elections. Seeing no farther than his next meal, Tim has hired on as a submariner on the Cuttlefish, a coal-fired submarine that runs smuggled cargoes beneath the steamship patrols, to the fortress America and beyond.

When the Imperial soldiery comes ravening, Clara and her mother are forced to flee aboard the Cuttlefish. Hunted like beasts, the submarine and her crew must undertake a desperate voyage across the world, from the Faeroes to the Caribbean and finally across the Pacific to find safety. But only Clara and Tim Barnabas can steer them past treachery and disaster, to freedom in Westralia. Carried with them—a lost scientific secret that threatens the very heart of Imperial power.

(summary from the Barnes and Noble website)

I love how you can take one small thing (like synthetic ammonia not being invented) and use it as the catalyst to create an entire new world. This fast-paced YA tale is filled with submarines, smugglers, death-defying adventure, and a dash of romance. Freer’s nautical aesthetic and use of submarine pirates provide a fresh and imaginative take on steampunk. This was a fun, satisfying read.

One lucky commenter will win my hardcover copy of CUTTLEFISH. Open internationally, contest closes Sunday, September 30th at 11:59 PM PST.

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Today we welcome back Vivien. She’s going to review THE KINGMAKERS, book three of the Vampire Empire series.

THE KINGMAKERS
Book 3, Vampire Empire
Clay and Susan Griffith
ARC provided by PYR
Review by Vivien

The Kingmakers is the third book in the thrilling Vampire Empire trilogy. A fast paced action adventure filled with war, vampires and political machinations. In a world that could mirror our own, it stands out with the heavy doses of steampunk woven throughout.

The third book takes off immediately where The Rift Walker (book 2) ends. There is no down time in this book. It starts off with a bang and keeps you on your toes until the very end. Every scene plays an important role in weaving the plot together. The Griffiths found the perfect way to fool the reader into thinking that you knew what each character’s motivations were. Only to tweak the plot lines a little to leave you not knowing who to root for.

The characters are by far my favorite aspect of this series. While the world building and technicalities play their role, they aren’t what kept me invested in this series. Over the course of the trilogy, you get to see many sides to each character. Some selfish, some stubborn but most of all they were all very passionate in their beliefs. It’s invigorating to be able to glimpse these…human characteristics.

Adele finally emerges as the mature woman she was meant to be. She holds her power well and stands by her decisions both good and bad. The Greyfriar/Gareth really lets his soft side show through. He becomes more vulnerable in the realization of his feelings for Adele. Their relationship grows more intimate in the few moments that they are able to steal away. There aren’t many, but they draw strength from their trust in each other.

A very satisfying ending that leaves me wanting more. This conclusion was a very explosive novel. The action starts off with an explosive battle and ends with a victory. But who will win in the war of humans versus vampires? Who will be crowned King? How many will be left standing in the end?

~Vivien

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Today I welcome back Visiting Lolita Vivien to guest review THE RIFT WALKER, book 2 of the Vampire Empire series.

 

THE RIFT WALKER

Book 2, The Vampire Empire

Clay and Susan Griffith

PYR Books

Review by Vivien

After really enjoying the first book in this trilogy, The Greyfriar, I was very eager to sink my teeth into The Rift Walker. It immediately picks up exactly where The Greyfriar left off. So, if you don’t remember everything, I’d recommend a refresher.

While The Greyfriar was filled with technological advancements and a bloody war, The Rift Walker is more about political intrigue. The schemes and machinations of everyone involved is just utterly fascinating. It held my attention throughout. I can’t divulge any more without completely spoiling it all!

Getting a few different point of views this time around, The Rift Walker takes a slower pace than it’s predecessor. Having linear plot lines that all need to be told can seem tedious at times, but it really fills out the story. You need every bit of information that you’re given.

While the relationship between Adele and The Greyfriar wasn’t in the foreground in The Rift Walker, it still blossoms right before our eyes. Gone is the abrasive tension and replacing it is a more comfortable companionship. Towards the end I really felt their struggle as a whole with the world they live in.

A fascinating sequel to The Greyfriar. While some may not find The Rift Walker as engaging, I think it really adds to the depth of this trilogy. The Griffiths really built on the characters in this sequel. I am on edge for The Kingmakers, the last in the trilogy. I can’t wait to see how all the pieces that they have created, fit together to create one cohesive world.

~Vivien

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I’d hoped to do a cover reveal today, but that hasn’t shown up in my mailbox yet, (pout) leaving me with very little in the way of steampunk-ish goodness to talk about. I CAN say that Moonlight & Mechanicals, the fourth story and second full-length book in the Gaslight Chronicles will be out from Carina Press on Oct. 22.

Anyway, since I don’t have much of anything else to say about my own books or steampunk in general, I thought I’d sneak in another non-Monday book review, if it’s okay with the Lolita-in-Chief. These two stories are gaslamp fantasy rather than steampunk, but they really captured my imagination. The author, Christian Klaver, grew up about a mile from where I did, but we’ve only met recently, through the SF world, and I think the speculative fiction crowd is going to really love his voice once more readers find him. Maybe there’s something about us Detroiters that really gets into the gritty vibe of steampunk and gaslamp. I do believe these are Kindle exclusives, but with Calibre’s free conversion software, they can be read on any kind of e-reading device.

Sherlock Holmes and Count Dracula: The Adventure of the Solitary Grave (The Supernatural Casefiles of Sherlock Holmes) is Holmes like you’ve never seen him before. And by that I *do* mean that Holmes isn’t a vampire. That, I’ve seen. This blending of two major Victorian characters is written in a style so seamless you can almost believe it was found in the attic of one of Doyle’s editors. Yes, it’s a little darker than I usually read, but I honestly couldn’t put it down. The nuances of Holmes, Watson, and yes, Count Vlad Dracula himself are layered and well-drawn. You’ll hold your breath, I promise. It’s quite simply the most believeable Holmes/fantasy crossover I’ve ever read, and I’m a Holmes geek from way back.

Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Innsmouth Whaler (The Supernatural Casefiles of Sherlock
Holmes)
 combines Holmes with another great mythos: H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulu, and proves once again how well Klaver can weave disparate universes into a single, and unique blend. This isn’t light and fluffy Cthulu, it’s got some gore and some darkness, but again, I really fell into the universe and could completely see Holmes and Watson in the unhappy seaside village of Innsmouth dealing with Deep Ones.

My Take? Klaver is definitely an upcoming author to watch. Here’s the cover for the upcoming third story, coming soon to a Kindle near you. I know I’ll certainly be waiting for it. I think Klaver is one of the next big discoveries in the world of Spec. Fic. And yeah, it doesn’t hurt that he’s a Detroit guy. 🙂

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Hi everyone!  INNOCENT DARKNESS releases in a week and a half — in fact, pre-orders are already starting to ship!  I’m busy, busy getting everything ready for the blog tour, virtural launch party, launch party, etc. So, I invited Vivian to guest review The Greyfriar for me.  

The Greyfriar, Vampire Empire, Book 1
by Clay & Susan Griffith
PYR 2010
Review by Vivian

The Greyfriar is a standout in the steampunk genre. Set in an alternate world, vampires have taken over much of
the world. In 1870, they emerged as a vicious outbreak and dominated the humans. These vampires aren’t your
friendly sparkling variety. They are omnipotent and diabolical. Having invaded the Northern territories, the
human survivors were forced to move South. The fight for territory would be bloody and deadly.

Princess Adele of Alexandria is set to marry the American Senator Clark. An arrangement the would unify their
people so they can engage is an all out war against the enemy. As her ship is attacked by vampires, Princess
Adele is rescued by a mysterious stranger. The Greyfriar is her savior, but soon the masked crusader is overtaken
and unfortunately, she is kidnapped by the infamous Prince Cesare.

The world building was just magnificent in this novel. There is a lot of it, but it really sets the scene. You can
just visualize the death and brutality in every page. Incorporating airships and weapons to give it a steampunk flair,
The Greyfriar becomes a refreshing vampire novel.

This book really surprised me. I just fell for the Greyfriar. He was mysterious and enigmatic but vulnerable at
times to really draw you in. He is a very complex man and I can’t wait to get past his more of his layers. Adele goes through
her own transformation. She starts off as a naive Princess who grows some spine towards the end of the novel.

The Griffiths really hooked me in creating a world that could mirror our own. Captivating from the start, the action and
adventure will keep you riveted until the end. Blending a budding romance, political conspiracies and vampires, The Greyfriar
is unforgettable.

~Vivian

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I know Monday is book review day, but I just had to tell you about this short story that will make your mind boggle and your brain fall out. “Tucker Teaches the Clockies to Copulate” by David Erik Nelson is a surreal, hysterical, and dead-serious look at the nature of life, sex and robots.

Yeah, I said hysterical and dead serious. It’s both. I can’t explain how, but it is. Nuff said. You just have to read it.

Nelson’s steampunk world follows the long Civil War, where the mechanical Union troops stomped the south and then, after the war, the clockies, like all the other soldiers, had to find something else to do and somewhere else to live. Tucker is a drunken farmer in the west and gets it into his head to teach the robots how to do simple tasks like open doors and climb stairs. You can guess where it goes from then. Add in a Japanese doctor and a rabbi-slash-shopkeeper, and you have a fascinating town in the never-was.

Nelson’s take on steampunk is unique, and if you want to see something totally different from anyone else out there, this is well worth the read. On the other hand, if you like your worlds neat, tidy, and more or less happy (yeah, like mine, LOL) then it might not be your cup of tea. One way or the other it will make you think, and isn’t that what a good story is supposed to do?

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It’s book Monday!  Today I’m gushing about God Save the Queen.  One lucky commenter will win my ARC and I got it *signed* by Kate Locke over the weekend for you.  Open internationally, closes July 1, at 11:59 PM PST. 

God Save the Queen by Kate Locke
Book 1, The Immortal Empire
Orbit, July 3rd, 2012
ARC provided by Orbit

When Orbit asked me if I wanted to read this new steampunk urban fantasy series, I was like, um, heck yeah.  The basic premise of God Save the Queen had me intrigued immediately.  It’s 2012 and Queen Victoria is still in power–and is a Vampire.  Told from the point of view of 22 year-old Xandra Vardan we’re taken on a wild romp through an alternate history where the British Aristocracy are paranormal and technology has evolved in a very steampunkian sort of way.  They have many of the same types of devices we have (cars, cell phones, etc), but they run on different technologies.  Xandra Vardan is a “halvie” — her father is a Vampire, her mother human.  The halvies often act as protectors to the paranormal aristocracy and Xandra is an elite guard.  When her sister goes missing, she’s plunged into a darker side of society, and once she starts digging for the truth, nothing will ever be the same. 

I love Xandra, because she’s a badass.  She’ll also go to great lengths for her family, especially her missing sister.  She’s resourceful, intelligent, and can kick ass in a ball gown.  What’s not to love?  In addition to the action and intrigue, there’s also romance.  Oh, Vex.  Yes, Vex is a sexy werewolf, and an alpha, but he’s also very supportive, which was a great twist from the usual grabby alpha male.

Her world is incredible, weaving in technology, alternate history, and myth and legend. It’s gritty and dark, despite the balls and parties of the aristocracy, which Xandra often attends due to her position in the guard.  In addition to Vampires and Werewolves, we also meet the Goblins, which add a great twist to the many-layered culture Kate has created.  Like any good “punk” there’s plenty of rebellion, especially among the humans, who feel oppressed by, and are a bit afraid of, the paranormal aristocracy.  I have a feeling that war may break out in future books…

God Save the Queen is a great romp through alternate London, a fun and exciting read that’s hard to put down.  I actually had to stop myself from reading it and wait until I had an opportunity to read uninterrupted, because once I got about 5 chapters in I didn’t want to stop, and literally stayed planted on the bed reading while my child watched cartoons and ate cookies for the rest of the afternoon.  The ending left me wanting for more and I love how she has explanations and a glossary in the back.

Seriously, I loved this book and had a hard time formulating a review that was more than “crazy good shit” and “this books kicks ass.”  If you’re a fan of the Parasol Protectorate books, I’d recommend checking this out.  I can’t wait for book 2 to see what happens to Xandra next.  Can’t I have it now?

—-

Suzanne Lazear writes about steampunk faeries.  Her debut novel, INNOCENT DARKNESS, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. Visit her personal blog for more adventures.

 

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Yeah, so I know Maeve already reviewed Timeless but I love these books so much, I’m going to gush about it anyway.  I also haven’t done “Book Monday” in awhile (where I gush about books I love, for those of you who don’t know).  So…here’s today’s book:

Timeless –Book #5, Parasol Protectorate
by Gail Carriger

(copy provided by Orbit)

All good things must come to an end, and Timeless is the last book Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series.  Sure, she has two new series coming out, but alas, Lord Maccon and Alexia’s story has come to an end. 

I love these books – their charm, wit, humor, and ability to make me laugh out loud in undignified ways while on airplanes.  Book #5 was no exception.

In this book Alexia and company travel to Egypt in an adventure that doesn’t disappoint.  Prudence cracks me up, and Carriger accurate portrayal of life with a toddler (especially bathtime) had me rolling. 

Though I was a tiny disappointed not to get the full Alexia origins story, this story did not disappoint overall.  There was plenty of Ivy and her hats, Akeldam’s wit, Madame Lefoux’s intrigue, and the amazing love and respect shared by Lord Maccon and Alexia (which always makes me swoon).

And Biffy!  I was pleasantly surprised by darling Biffy.  I hope we haven’t seen the last of him.

I know we haven’t seen the last of Prudence and I look forward to reading about her in her series, Parasol Protectorate Abroad.

Have you read it?  What did you think?

 

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  Her debut novel, INNOCENT DARKNESS, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. Visit her personal blog for more adventures.

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Hi all, I ‘m Maeve Alpin, one of the new lolitas who have climbed aboard the airship. On my last shore leave I shared my booty of Steampunk comics with you and as promised here are some more. Imagery can be very inspirational to a writer, so many of us pull ideas from our dreams or things that catch our eye. The collaboration of visual and literate art in comics inspires new ideas far beyond the illustrations and story lines. In addition to several comic books labeled as Steampunk, many others have Victorian, Dystopian, Dieselpunk, Weird West, or Alternate History ascetics. Here is part two of my list of some comic books you’ll enjoy.

1.     Steampunk by Chris Bachalo & Joe Kelly

The hero is Cole Blaquesmith, a poor 18th century fisherman. I love his period dialogue. He falls in love with Fiona, a kind, noble lady who helps the lower class. When she falls gravely ill he takes her to Doctor Absinthe, a mad scientist, who promises to cure her if Cole uses the Engine, a time traveling machine, to get him books on science and other objects from the future. Cole does so but when he returns from 1954, Absinthe breaks his part of the bargain and Fiona dies. Cole buries the Engine beneath Stonehenge and in turn Absinthe rips out Cole’s heart. A hundred years later, Cole wakes up in a coffin during the Victorian era to find that Absinthe experimented on him, his chest is a now a metal furnace and his right arm is a huge mechanical claw. He also discovers that London is ruled by Absinthe. There are two historical royals in Steampunk. Napoleon Bonaparte is referred to as Frances in issue six, because after Absinthe killed Josephine, Napoleon gives up his humanity to become a living computer controlling France’s weapons systems and soldiers. So he actually is France. Instead of being the queen, in this London ruled by Absinthe, Victoria works for him as an assassin until she joins the resistance and falls in love with Cole. She’s a brunette beauty, her hands are surgically grafted to her arms, and her main weapon is a metallic whip that makes one of those wonderful comic book sounds, SHRAAK. Laslo, another member of the resistance, is a very interesting character. He’s a black man who speaks with what I think of as 1960’s slang, such as “Don’t ask for details about my rumble with Faust. Don’t dig for more than I lay down.” He also wears a big Union Jack print scarf that belonged to his best friend, Rikk, who was killed by Absinthe’s assassin, Faust.

This dark, dystopian Steampunk, alternative history, comic book series debuted in 2000 and ran for twelve issues. The dialogue, characterizations, plotting, and art are exceptionally good.

2.     Girl Genius by Phil & Kaja Foglio

The lead character, a young lady, Agatha Heterodyne, is a hapless student of Transylvania Polygnostic University. When her locket is stolen it sets off a chain of events in which she discovers she is a powerful Spark, talented at creating and repairing electrical and mechanical devices. The story involves the traditional Steampunk components of an alternative history, the industrial revolution, a wonder kid, and mad scientists. It’s a whimsical, fun, highly enjoyable read recommended for ages ten to adult. Girl Genius has won many awards recommended for ages ten to adult. Girl                                                                                                                                                                                   Genius has won many awards, including a Hugo for Best Graphic Story in 2011.

3. Gotham by Gas Light by Brian Augustyn & Mike Mignola

One of DC’s Elseworld comic books, set in 1889, Gotham by Gas Light, features a Victorian batman. Shortly after Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City from a visit to Europe, a murder takes place in Gotham in the style of Jack the Ripper. After a bloody knife is found under Bruce Wayne’s bed, he’s arrested as Jack the Ripper. While in prison, he figure out Jacob Parker is the real Jack the Ripper. After escaping jail with Alfred’s help, Batman finds the Ripper just as he is about to kill his next victim. A chase ensues and they come to a stop at Bruce Wayne/Batman’s parents graves. When Bruce Wayne/Batman’s mother rejected Jacob Packer’s advances he began murdering women who resembled her, to silence the laughter he hears in his head. It also turns out that he had hired the assassin who killed batman’s parents.  Packer attacks Batman, but Commissioner Gordon shoots him dead and Batman disappears into the shadows.

4.     Hellboy by Mike Mignola

Hellboy is a demon summoned to earth by Nazi occultist. As a supernatural hero he fights resurrected Nazi scientist and other biomechanical creatures. He has a giant stone hand, the hand of doom, and superhuman strength, healing, and endurance. He also comprehends ancient and magical languages and carries items to battle supernatural forces in his utility belt such as horseshoes, herbs, and hand grenades.

5.     The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vol 1 & vol 2 by Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neil Illustrator

Like fan fiction from popular Victorian novels Captain Nemo, the invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,  Allan Quatermain, Mina Murray, John Carter and other well known characters form a type of Victorian era justice league. Fu Manchu has stolen the only known cavorite in existence, a fictional substance created in H. G. Wells First Men On The Moon.  Professor Moriarty orders the league to retrieve the cavorite but doesn’t divulge that he plans to use it to build an airship to bomb Fu Manchu’s Limehouse lair, that explosion would also destroy London. The league triumps over both Fu Manchu and Moriarty. Volume 2, continues as the League fights the Martian invasion from H. G. Wells War of the Worlds.

          6. Jonah Hex – Jimmy Palmiotfi & Justin Gray, Luke Ross Illustrator

“When  a man knows there’s no place in Heaven waiting on him, then he’d best be wise to cozy up to the devil. And so, Jonah took it upon himself to dispatch as many sinners as Hell could accommodate… and never look back.” The art work is well done, truly brilliant. Though Jonah Hex can be classified as Weird West, Westernpunk, or Cow punk, it is first and foremost a western about a mysterious, stranger riding into town and righting wrongs in a lawless land. In the comic book series, Hex, the wild west bounty hunter is transported to the 21st century where he fights crime as a post-apocalyptic warrior.

7.     Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Cardboard Box by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Retold by Murray Shaw and M. J. Cosson, Sophie Rohrback and J. T. Morrow, Illustrators

Released in March of this year, Graphic Universe adapted this classic tale to comic book form for ages nine and up. When a woman receives the gruesome package of two human ears, Holmes and Watson are on the case. Clues at the back of the comic book reveal the process Holmes used to pull the facts together and solve the mystery. The Adventure of the Cardboard Box by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was first published in Strand Magazine in 1892.

We can look forward to the future of Steampunk comic books offering even more diversity, but there should be something for every Steampunk reader among these fourteen comic books listed in part one and part two of this post. Many of these comic books are out of print and if you have trouble finding the ones you like at your local comic book stores, try your local library or the inter-library loan program. Happy reading.

~Maeve Alpin

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Maeve Alpin loves reading and writing about ancient times. It’s only natural that she loves alternative history just as much. She had a lot of fun combing the mystery and magic of ancient Egypt with the prim and proper, frill and lace, of an alternate Victorian age of steam robots and time travel machines for her As Timeless As Stone novella. Drawing on her love for a happy ending, she’s had sever…al works published: five romance novels, three novellas, and short stories in four anthologies. She lives in Texas with her family; her grown son, her granddaughter, and her spoiled cat, Severus. Visit her at   http://MaeveAlpin.com In addition to her Steampunk/Romances she writes Celtic/Romances under the name Cornelia Amiri

Gail Carriger’s Book Signing & Review of Timeless

By Maeve Alpin

Gail Carriger, author of the Parasol Protectorate series, entered Houston’s Murder By The Book store where rows of people, several in Steampunk costumes, sat in chairs with her books nestled on their laps. She greeted everyone with a dazzling smile and a perky, “Hello, My Darlings.”

“I believe in leaving a party before it’s over,” was her response to the question, why is Timeless the last book. She explained that if she walked out and got run over she’d known she’d left behind a finished series. She likes the package wrapped up with a big bow on top. The author also mentioned that Clueless had a cliffhanger ending because she didn’t have a contract at that time. With Blameless she knew they’d be five books in the series.

Now that the Parasol Protectorate series is finished with Timeless, what we can expect next is a young adult series, The Finishing School, which takes place in what really isn’t a finishing school at all. Also she will soon begin the first book in a series about Alexis and Conall’s daughter, who is also Lord Akeldama’s adopted daughter, the Parasol Protectorate Abroad series. The first book will be called Prudence and the second Imprudence. We have something else to look forward to, we will see familiar faces in both series.

 As for Timeless, “The werewolves have a saying. It takes a pack to raise a child.” A pack, a vampire hive, a thespian troupe, and more if that child is a metanatural toddler, who walks at a young age. Young Prudence turns life tipsy every time she changes from human form to a toddler vampire, complete with fangs, when she touches any vampire, including her adopted father. She also transforms into a wolf cub, complete with fuzzy tail, when she touches any werewolf, including her own father. This makes life quite challenging for her preternatural mother, Lady Maccon, and her supernatural werewolf father, Lord Maccon,  as they venture forth from their odd home, in Lord Akeldama’s third closet, to an ocean liner for a voyage to Egypt at the command of a Vampire Queen, and to search for information about the God-Breaker Plague, also to find out what Alexis’s father was really up to at the time of his death, and for Ivy and her husband and their acting troupe to perform their rendition of The Death Rains of Swansea for the Egyptian Vampire court . As I read Timeless, I wondered if all four were tied together, and if so how. I was pleased at the revelations and the conclusion Gail Carriger came up with.

Timeless is a great finish to an incredible series. Witty, funny and creative, Timeless also prepares us for the Parasol Protectorate Abroad series with a new Vampire Queen and a glimpse of a new Werewolf Alpha in the future  I laughed out loud as I always do when reading Gail Carriger’s books. I will miss Alexia and I hope to see some of her in the coming series with Prudence. Timeless is a fun read, a great escape, and I highly recommend it.

Blogging Contest: I’m giving away an autographed copy of Gail Carriger’s Manga book of Soulless, an autographed copy of my To Love A London Ghost novel, and two Lady Mechanika comic books, Issues #1 and #2. To enter the contest, please comment below and include your email so I can contact you if you win.  Here is a trailer for To Love A London Ghost.

 

~Maeve Alpin

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First off, we have some winners to announce.

The winner of  The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer is:

Teawench

The winner of War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells is:

Rebecca RyalsRussell


Congratulations! Email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.

Now, on to Book Monday.


The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

(ARC Provided by Tor)

I have a huge soft spot for young adult faerie books, since I write about faeries.  I have an even larger soft spot for Victorian faerie stories.

This book didn’t disappoint me one bit.

Hamilton skillfully combines faerie lore with Victorian London weaving together an enchanting tale of magic, mystery, and mayhem.

Tiki is a teen-pickpocket living with her “family” of orphan thieves, including little Clara, who’s often sick.    When Tiki steals a ring from the palace she thinks first of Clara and how the ring could buy the medicine they need for the littlest and frailest member of their band.  Only the ring Tiki stole binds the treaty between the royal family and the fey.  Away from the safety of the palace, the ring–and Tiki–become a target.  If the ring is destroyed then the treaty is broken and the fey can do as they will, probably at the cost of mortal London.  In order to save the treaty–and humanity, she must figure out who to trust, which includes the handsome rascal Riecker and the young Prince Leopold.

This fast-paced action-packed story is full of twists and turns that had me glued to my chair.  I fell in love with Tiki from the very beginning.   She’s plucky, and resilient, and even though life hasn’t dealt her the best hand, she’s not bitter, rather, she rolls with the punches and does what she needs to do to survive–and protect her family.  I love how loyal she and the other orphans in their little band really take care of each other — even little Clara.

Hamilton’s version of Victorian London comes alive–complete with the grit, despair, and poverty all-too-common in that era.  However, thanks to Tiki and her resistance, even when the story gets dark, there’s always a glimmer of hope.  It’s also quite fun to journey through London with Tiki–from the streets of London to the palace and thanks to the brilliant descriptions you feel like you’re *right there*.

And Riecker.

Oh yes, there’s Riecker.

Again, I loved the way Hamilton seamlessly melded faerie lore–and even Gaelic–into her Victorian world.  Like in faerie lore, these faeries aren’t always nice, especially those of the dark court.  There’s something for everyone in this story–a little historical fiction, a little romance, a really good story, faeries, action, and mystery.  I highly recommend this to anyone who’s a fan of either faeries or Victorian stories.

Since I love this story so much and am going to buy a final copy, I’m going to give away my ARC.  All you have to do is leave me a comment and tell me what sort of faerie (dark or bright) is your favorite.  Contest open internationally, ends October 9th, 2011, at 11:59 PM PST.

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  Her debut novel, Innocent Darkness, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. Visit her personal blog for more adventures.

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Today is the last giveaway in Christmas in August.  We have a few things open.  Thank you so much for entering.  We have some winners here

Enclave (Razorland #1)

By Ann Aguirre

Okay, so Ann Aguirre’s YA debut isn’t Steampunk, but there’s a lot for steampunkers to love in this book–even if you don’t usually like zombies, dystopian, or even YA.

In some distant (or not so distant) future Deuce’s world is an underground labyrinth of tunnels and a series of strict rules in a society where the death rate is so high children aren’t even named until they are fifteen.  Deuce is a huntress, her job it to brave the tunnels outside the enclave and avoid the monsters known as “Freaks” to bring back meat for the group.  She’s assigned a partner, Fade, who’s different from the other members in the enclave and entertains notions considered “dangerous” by Deuce–such as perhaps those in charge of the enclave are lying.  When the previously-thought-to-be-mindless Freaks develop intelligence, the elders ignore Fade and Deuce’s warning.  When the two of them are exiled, the only place left for them to go is topside. 

I love Deuce, because she’s a very smart, level-headed, practical heroine (and she’s badass, but out of necessity, because as a huntress, that’s her job).  Even though this book is YA, because of Deuce’s maturity and all the action, I think this book might appeal to those who might not usually pick up a YA, even if you’re not a dystopian/post-apocalyptic fan.

The world building is fantastic and well thought out.  I loved reading about the culture and customs developed by Deuce’s tunnel-dwelling society.  Unlike many stories in this genre, ENCLAVE isn’t depressing, but hopeful.  However, it is gritty — survival is life in Deuce’s world and they fight for it daily.  There’s a ton of action including some great (though gruesome) fight scenes against the Freaks (zombies, but they’re not described in the usual way, so if you usually avoid zombie books, you might give this one a try anyway.)  When she and Fade go topside I love how they react to what’s left of our world and I thought their reactions and thoughts to things we take for granted but they may have never seen or even heard about was fantastic. 

Overall, this was a face paced, well written book with great characters and some terrific dialogue.  I read this in two sittings and was completely sucked into the world Aguirre created (and usually I avoid books with Zombies.)

So, what’s your favorite dystopian/post-apocalyptic book?

I have a previously read ARC to give away to one lucky commenter.  It’s been read by more than me, but it is an ARC, with the CD in the back AND it’s SIGNED.  All you have to do is comment below.  Open internationally.  Contest closes September 10th, 2011 at 11:59 PST. 

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  Her debut novel, Innocent Darkness, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. 

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Christmas in August continues with a new giveaway.  Today we’re featuring Caitlin Kittredge’s The Iron Thorn and one lucky commenter will win a copy!

But first, the winner of the Yoda ornament…

Melina from Reading Vacation

Congrats, Melina!

Now, onto today’s feature.

The Iron Thorn

Book 1, Iron Codex

By Caitlin Kittredge

(Copy provided by Delacorte)

From Goodreads: 

In the city of Lovecraft, the Proctors rule and a great Engine turns below the streets, grinding any resistance to their order to dust. The necrovirus is blamed for Lovecraft’s epidemic of madness, for the strange and eldritch creatures that roam the streets after dark, and for everything that the city leaders deem Heretical—born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, her time is growing shorter by the day.

Aoife Grayson’s family is unique, in the worst way—every one of them, including her mother and her elder brother Conrad, has gone mad on their 16th birthday. And now, a ward of the state, and one of the only female students at the School of Engines, she is trying to pretend that her fate can be different.

I was very excited to read this book, because a) it’s steampunk, b) the MC’s name is Aoife, c) enter the Fae.

Yep.

The Iron Thorn is set in Lovecraft, MA.  But her world is a completely re-imagined version of the US, a dim and grim world that’s been ravaged by a virus purported to cause madness and mutation.  The citizens live in fear of the virus, strange creatures, and of the government.  Any thought deemed illogical is heretical, including fairy stories, magic, and witchcraft.  Heretics are burned–or worse.  The city of Lovecraft is so gritty, the fear the citizens live in so intense,  it leaves me wanting to take a shower then cower under the blankets.

Because this world is so very different from ours, Kittredge has to do an incredible amount of worldbuilding to set the stage.  She does an amazing job of weaving her world–from the explanations of the machines to the social structure of her world–without being intrusive.

As much as I’m intrigued by Aiofe’s life–her being a student at the school of engines, her relationship with her mother who’s been deemed insane, and the orderly fear-driven life she leads in Lovecraft, for me the story really picks up when she and her best friend Cal flee Lovecraft to aid her brother.

From the moment she and Cal go to find a guide to smuggle them out of the city, she starts to realize how different the world is from what their leaders want them to believe.  The further she, Cal, and their guide Dean get from the city the more she’s pulled into the “heretical” world of magic and witchcraft her city’s government is so against.

This book is full of  surprising twists and turns.  Aiofe is a great MC-strong, smart, and open-minded yet unwavering in her core beliefs.  Cal, her best friend, is very much the opposite for much of the book–a hard-core rule follower and believer in what the city’s leader’s tell her.  But Cal does go with her on her dangerous adventure outside the city and comes through when she needs him most.  Dean, their guide, is a great foil for Cal.  Dean is a bit shady and operates outside the rules.

Kittredge does a great job of seamlessly interweaving magic and the Fae with the stark grimness of her Steampunk world.

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next.

Want to win my copy?  Leave a comment below.  Open internationally.  Contest closes August 28th at 11:59 PM. 

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  Her debut novel, Innocent Darkness, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. 

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