cover image The SEA Is Ours: Tales from Steampunk Southeast Asia

The SEA Is Ours: Tales from Steampunk Southeast Asia

Edited by Jaymee Goh and Joyce Chng. Rosarium (rosarium-, $15.95 trade paper (270p) ISBN 978-1-4956-0756-1

The tropes and trappings of steampunk alternate history bind together this exciting anthology of stories set in and inspired by the broadly defined region of Southeast Asia (SEA). The editors deliberately “push back against this idea that we must acknowledge the superiority of the British Empire,” and the experience of being colonized is omnipresent but never permitted to define a person or place. Characters appropriate clockwork technology, live in high-rise apartment blocks, and fight guerilla wars, but these familiar elements don’t hinder the stories from frequently surprising the reader. For example, Marilag Angway’s “Chasing Volcanoes” has classic steampunk airships, but they’re powered by volcanoes. The standouts are the three central pieces: Kate Osias’s “The Unmaking of the Cuadro Amoroso,” in which an enclave of prodigies takes revenge on imperial war machines; Olivia Ho’s “Working Woman,” reexamining Frankenstein’s monster amid the multicultural power brokers of Singapore; and Robert Liow’s “Spider Here,” a hard-SF adventure with a suicide bomber, illegal fights, and a disabled schoolgirl protagonist. Even the slighter stories have the craft, perspective, and components that merit savoring, and the finest would be worth considering for any year’s best anthology. (Nov.)