Best Steampunk of 2014

Best Steampunk

Steampunk. My first introduction to this weird theme was with the movie Wild Wild West. the big spider etc in the western setting won me over. Steampunk can be used in various different time lines be it western, in the Victorian setting, even our current day or in the future. Steampunk is often accompanied by gears and sprockets flying around your ears but it can also be subtle element hidden within the story brief glimpses to enliven the surroundings of the story. Once Upon a Time in Hell is the second book in the Heaven's Gate Trilogy by Guy Adams. This is truly the weird west at it's top. Guy Adams nicely integrates Steampunk into his world by letting it be modes of transport and some nifty gadgets the characters have. This story is big and bold and I am looking forward to seeing where this story ends. Rod Duncan's The Bullet-Catchers Daughter is something of an Victorianesque inspired story following a young women Elizabeth Barnabus that leads an interesting double life. Here Rod Duncan further builds on the Steampunk element by adding the arcane and alchemy in the equation creating something more elusive. Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Dragon is the follow up of Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl from David Barnett. The world that David Barnett invisions is full of the classical Steampunk elements, zepplins etc and well as the titles of the books already showed a mechanical girl and a brass dragon! Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor is an example of using just a few elements to dress the world, because this isn't a story that revolves purely on steampunk but more of a coming of age of Maia. The world that Katherine Addison builds is very remarkable. Raising Steam the 40th discworld book brings steam to the discworld series. So basically the essence of this book is everything that is associated with steam, think of introducing locomotives and railroads. But as it is with introducing new things, there are always people who oppose...

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- Once Upon a Time in Hell by Guy Adams, Solaris

Once Upon a Time in Hell and the Heaven's Gate Trilogy so far has been a true weird western adventure that grabs you and pulls you in and keeps you there even long after the story has finished, only then when you let it all sink in I got this second WOW affect. In this relative short story Guy Adams manages to dish out quite a few heavy punches in terms of developing a strong storyline that is exciting, fresh and new but also creates a set of interesting characters that don't stop to developing as the series progresses. Guy Adams showcases his creative talent with combining many different elements that all work for the better of the story. The ending of the book was something I hadn't dared to imagine... it's bold... it's brave but in the hands of someone like Guy Adams I think we will be in grand finale in the third book of the Heaven's Gate trilogy. Can't wait!!

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- The Bullet-Catchers Daughter by Rod Duncan, Angry Robot

The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter is off to a solid start. Rod Duncan has created a wonderful setting in The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter taking in account the big as well as the small things that are needed to make a world go round. He has struck a perfect balance between both highlighting the characters, from our main protagonist Elizabeth Barnabus down to the secondary characters, and the world itself, using bits and pieces of exciting history spinning it in his own way by adding enough fantasy influences to make it one-of-a-kind. Angry Robot recently has released another book, The Buried Life, that left me with the same feeling. One where you would give everything to delve into the sequel! It is with these kind of books that make sure the fantasy genre is kept fresh. If you are looking for something new and refreshing make sure you read The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter, it's is everything you want and much more!

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- Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon by David Barnett, Tor

With The Brass Dragon solidly David Barnett continues the success of The Mechanical Girl. Again he has managed to create a truly unique setting with his world, this time around not focusing on Great Britain but on an alternate version of America that is ruled by several different nationalities, the Americans, Spanish, British and Japanese. The characters, though a with a bit less historical reference for me were again a treat to read about. I do have to concur with a fellow review who said that The Brass Dragon was just a bit different in producing the same feeling as The Mechanical Girl, I think this for me was owed to the fact that these parts of history were further away for me. However this didn't take away just what a very clever and more importantly cool story David Barnett has written once again. Especially when Apep shows just what he is made off! In the end of the book David Barnett does offer giant cliffhanger with a possible lead into the third book. What are you waiting for? Get reading!
 

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- The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, Tor

With The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison has created a very rich and unique story, I can safely say that I haven't encounter such a story recently. A story wherein the authors dares to go into a new direction by flipping some tables upside down. The Goblin Emperor is a mix of both steampunk themes and epic fantasy, Katherine Addison shows a lot of details from both themes when setting up her story. I for one am always a big fan when an author creates a dynamic world and Katherine Addison's is just that. The story is never dull and the writing style that she uses readily draws you into the world. Next to her engaging writing style Katherine Addison has created a very strong protagonist, that never stops developing a long the way. Maia is a character that a lot of people will be able to relate, the combination of the whole setting, having lost his parents and now being thrown in the depths of the courtly intrigues and the writing style of Katherine Addison really makes you feel sad for Maia as you get a front row seat for all the hard times that he has to go through. All I can say is that you really have to give The Goblin Emperor a try, I think you will be amazed. 

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- Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett, Double Day

I have heard a lot about the jokes and the puns that Terry Pratchett cleverly hides within his stories and in The Long War I ready quite a few, and luckily Raising Steam also has quite a few of them. I still got the one with the martial artist in the back of my mind, the one who is master of the deja fu! brilliant. But like I said in the last paragraph there is much heavier and perhaps darker tone taking shape starting at the halfway mark of the book. It seems that certain factions haven't been accepted in the ranks in Ankh-Morpork, the Goblins have perhaps an higher motive to help bring steam to Ankh-Morpork. The earlier mentioned civil war on the rise mainly stoked by the strongly conservative and fundamentalist dwarfs isn't solely to keep steam from reaching their territory but also to keep the Goblins from being seen as equals. And when the fighting does take place between the warring factions it get downright and dirty with a darker tone than I had imagined. This taken on the whole did make me rethink a lot and made the story of Raising Steam resonate that much stronger for me.  

Though Raising Steam is for me the first book that I read in the Discworld series, I must say that I very much enjoyed reading this story and will look forward to any other story that Terry Pratchett will come up with in this series. I will also be on the look out for the earlier books of the series. Terry Pratchett sets himself apart with his writing on many fronts, he knows how to create interesting characters that stand out from the rest, but where he really makes a definite impression; is the creativeness of his ideas. His writing style and his play with words will really make you laugh out loud! I liked the footnotes at the bottom of the pages, though I normally hate these kind of things since they can misplace the rhythm of a book, they worked in full in Raising Steam. Bring on the next Discworld please!

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