cover image The Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures

The Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures

Edited by Sean Wallace. Perseus/Running Press, $14.95 trade paper (512p) ISBN 978-0-7624-5464-8

Wallace’s smart, provocative collection proves that “steampunk is alive and well” by reaching out to the edges of its mash-up sensibilities, with 25 pieces that use the aesthetic elements of clockwork, steam, and magic to tell a diverse range of human stories. Dalliances like the movie-theater sleuthing of Tony Pi’s “The Curse of Chimère” sit alongside much darker fare, like A.C. Wise’s “A Mouse Ran Up the Clock,” in which Jews are forced to make spying automata for the Germans. A classic theme of romantic escape from a retro-futuristic city (Tobias S. Buckell’s “Love Comes to Abyssal City”) is, for example, balanced by a novel exploration of lesbian sexuality among nomads (Alex Dally MacFarlane’s “Selin That Has Grown in the Desert”), and mechanicals range from whimsical toys (Margaret Ronald’s “The Governess and the Lobster”) to the foundations of industrial dystopias (Christopher Barzak’s “Smoke City”). Cultures range far beyond the neo-Victorian, and characters include Chinese demon-hunters (Ken Liu’s “Good Hunting”) and Mesoamerican warriors (Aliette de Bodard’s “Memories in Bronze, Feathers, and Blood”). This is an expansive display of creative world-building by thoughtful storytellers, boldly ranging well beyond its quasi-historical contexts. (Oct.)