STEAMPUNK!: AN ANTHOLOGY OF FANTASTICALLY RICH AND STRANGE STORIES by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant
Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant was a mixed bag for me. Some of the stories didn’t seem to have more than a passing acquaintance with steampunk, or seemed to be too estranged from the genre to work for me. Others seemed to be the foundation stone for larger projects and didn’t quite deliver a fulfilling read.
Cassandra Clare has quite the reputation for YA and steampunk. Her offering, “Some Fortunate Future Day,” was beautifully written, but surprisingly dark. The story is a standout in the collection.
Libba Bray wrote, “The Last Ride of the Glory Girls,” which had a lot of moving parts. In fact, I’m thinking the story had too many. It was very imaginative, but I ended up feeling more distanced from the characters than I wanted to.
“Clockwork Fagin” is another of those dark stories in this collection, and the title warns you of that. Cory Doctorow delivers a good character-driven piece, but I felt depressed when I finished it. Still, the solution the handicapped kids worked out for themselves was pretty ingenious and funny, which I think was more to the point.
“Seven Days Beset By Demons” written and drawn by Shawn Cheng was just too weird for me. The artwork looked rough and I couldn’t sink into the world enough.
Ysabeau S. Wilce’s “Hand in Glove” is a different kind of story altogether, and it offers some nice diversions to the steampunk world. I didn’t care so much for the omniscient narrator and present tense because I kept stumbling over them.
The steampunk plot gets a changeup in “Ghost of Cwmlech Manor” by Delia Sherman. I enjoyed the story and the setting a lot. I really settled into this one.
Garth Nix penned a crackerjack little story in “Peace in Our Time.” You’ll have trouble figuring out what the lesser of two evils is in this one.
“Finishing School,” the second graphic story in the collection, this one by Kathleen Jennings, tends to plod along and the art is spotty. Some of the panels are well done, and other seemed to miss the mark.
Dylan Horrocks wrote “Steam Girl,” the longest story in the collection and one of the most compelling tales because it spins around a relationship.
Overall, people who are fans of steampunk will find something in this collection to enjoy, but they may not enjoy all of the stories.