Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Books to Add to Your Gimme-Gimme List: The Steampunk Edition

Last month, I did a lot of research into the genre of Steampunk (which isn't necessarily what you think it is, per se***) to pull together a pretty classy costume for a masquerade wedding Snarkier Than You and I attended. At first I decided to go the steam-y route because, frankly, the costumes I saw online were pretty fucking kick ass. While I had always known that the concept of Steampunk found its start in books, I never paid much attention to it until recently, mainly because I've been obsessed with sparkly-ass vampires these past few years.

Fine. He's not a vampire but he sure is kinda sparkly. This was in my inbox this morning (thanks, VitaminR!!)

I'm pretty sure there is a Steampunk aficionado reading this right now and frothing at the mouth and calling me a poser while he adjusts his Victorian era goggles but whatever, I like what I like. I was never really good with labels, anyway.  

So far, I've truly enjoyed every single novel I've read, but two really stand out.

Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld
Synopsis: (jacked from the site linked above)
Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.
 Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.
 With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected ways, taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

 Not surprisingly, this is actually a Young Adult trilogy, because I clearly I have problems reading books geared toward people my age (mainly because a lot of them seem to be about 30-something women who are successful, beautiful and can't get a man. I have no idea why my mother sends me these. I have a man). However, this book was so fantastical and so out-of-this-world that I ripped through it in only a couple of days.

That being said, this story revolves around actual events (World War I, aka "When Shit Went Down the First Time) but is combined with a fantasy world that is so different from anything I have ever read before. It's like a history lesson (okay a veeeeeery small history lesson. Fine, not really a history lesson) that includes giant whales floating in the sky instead of zeppelins.

Video found here (check out their review of Leviathan, which is far better than any I could have come up with)

For those of you who have pre-teens or teens or whatever age group this is demographically targeted for, I highly recommend it for both you and your kid. It's creative, action-packed and has both a strong female and male protagonist.

However, if you're more into parody, satire and the goddamn apocalypse, then I have the book just for you... 

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophesies of Agnes Nutter, Witch - Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

Synopsis (taken from here) -
There is a distinct hint of Armageddon in the air. According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (recorded, thankfully, in 1655, before she blew up her entire village and all its inhabitants, who had gathered to watch her burn), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse are revving up their mighty hogs and hitting the road, and the world's last two remaining witch-finders are getting ready to fight the good fight, armed with awkwardly antiquated instructions and stick pins. Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. . . . Right. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. 

Except that a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon -- each of whom has lived among Earth's mortals for many millennia and has grown rather fond of the lifestyle -- are not particularly looking forward to the coming Rapture. If Crowley and Aziraphale are going to stop it from happening, they've got to find and kill the Antichrist (which is a shame, as he's a really nice kid). There's just one glitch: someone seems to have misplaced him. . . . 

This book is hysterical, there is no doubt about it. Tongue-in-cheek in some parts, droll and wry in others, the characters are endearing (maybe with the exception of War, but only because she's probably prettier than me) and bumbling at the same time.

And what's not to like about an angel and a demon banding together to stop the apocalypse (well, mainly for selfish reasons. Especially the demon, but whatever)? Trust me, hilarity ensues.

Let's put it this way - if you liked Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, you will love this book (and incidentally, if you haven't read HGthG, you really should).

Leave your thoughts and recommendations in the comments!! It's really important you do this because I've recently acquired a Kindle Fire and need to load it up with oodles of stories. Spread the wealth!!

*** Or I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about, which seems reasonable.


  1. First! Wow that never happens! Anyways I love Neil Gaiman (and his super sexy singer of a wife Amanda Palmer) I just finished American Gods and I am now reading Neverwhere. They are both fantastic! Also I suggest anything and I mean ANYTHING by Jen Lancaster. She is fucking hilarious! That is all I have for now...oh and none of these books have anything to do with steampunk...oh well. Love you ladies!

  2. Holy crap, I didn't realize that Neil Gaiman's wife was Amanda Palmer.

    And I LOVED Neverwhere. It was also a bit of an inspiration for my own original fiction that I've been working on...

  3. I've been meaning to read Good Omens for years, because I fucking LOVE Terry Pratchett. I just never got around to it for some reason...damn stupid sparkly vampires... Thanks for the kick-up-the-ass/reminder that I NEED to read this book.

    If you like witty and satirical (and the Hitchiker's Guide) you should totally try the rest of Terry Pratchett's books. Witches Abroad is my personal favourite. He's an awesome guy too, I met him at a book signing a few years ago and he actually took the time to talk to me and Sister Banshee (she's nearly as big a fan as I am) and very nearly spelled my stupid awkward Gaelic name right, which honestly, even a lot of Irish people can't do.

    If you like fantasy trilogies aimed at young adults, try Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy: the Golden Compass (the film is kinda bleh, sorry Chris Weitz) the Subtle Knife and the Amber Spyglass. They involve parallel universes, visible, animal-shaped parts of your soul, giant talking bears, witches, and have been banned all over the Bible Belt. So you know they're good ;)

  4. Neverwhere is incredible....rec any and all Neil gaimen and terry Pratchett ...all I read was disceotld before I found twiporn <----42


  5. Discworld...Grrrrgrrr

    Oh and terry Pratchetts Diggers trilogy for young readers is terrific too

  6. @fanficzombie: Me too! Well, and Harry Potter.
    Don't forget the Tiffany Aching series for younger readers too. Though I guess technically they are Discworld books. Crivens!

  7. Terry Pratchett on audio is especially brilliant - the readers are absolutely awesome and do the characters so damn well that I have oftentimes started convulsing with paralytic laughter in the supermarket aisle. Dangerous. Nigel Planer is my favourite reader (he was Neil in the Young Ones - don't know if it was big in the States but it was massive in Oz, where I am from). He is incredibly versatile. 'Going Postal' and 'Thief of Time' are probably my fave Terry Pratchetts, though I honestly have never read one that I didn't love.

    Closer to YOUR home, you have to check out Christopher Moore. 'Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal' is seriously the funniest and most poignant book I have EVER read... I love this book more than I love any of Terry Pratchett's which is truly saying something. He has lots of other great ones too, including a Vamp trilogy, 'Bloodsucking Fiends', 'You Suck' and 'Bite Me'. FABULOUS!

    Keen to read 'Neverwhere' now - thanks for the tip. Thanks also to someone who suggested 'Outlander' (Diana Gabaldon) a while ago - I have been listening to the audios and they're great. Aaacchh, if yer like the notion of a rrrrright juicy roll in the hay with a sexy, brawny Hi'land Scot who worships yer body, then this book's fer you!

  8. If everyone keeps sending all these great book recs, when are we supposed to BLOG?! I need a clone.

  9. Thank you so much for the great recommendations! I was entering into the land of despair with all of the horrible books that sound great but turn out to be terrible. (I am looking at you Matched by Ally Condie! "Best book since the Hunger Games," my ass!)

    Please keep the great recommendations coming!

  10. I LOVE TALKING BOOKS! I've heard good things about Leviathan, I honestly just need to get the book.

    Right now my daughter (because of Hunger Games) is on a dysotopian themed role. I think I'm going to buy her Legend by Marie Lu.

    Thank you for the recs!

  11. Had a combination blogger and Nook fail the other day. Just wanted to say that Good Omens was awesome and laugh-out-loud funny.

    I love the steampunk concept and I love the costumes but I really haven't been able to get into any of the books. They have ranged from slow and plodding to ill-conceived and poorly written. Tossing in a few gadgets and writing like you are channeling Charles Dickens does not make a great book. I think I'm so critical because I really, really want to read an awesome Steampunk book, but haven't found it yet. I'll give your recce a try.

    I want something like this: Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells. (Well, anything by Martha Wells is pretty darn good!)The Ile-Rien series is pretty steampunky too.

    I like to think what I am currently writing is coal-punk (pre-steam).

  12. I will send my hubby this post and he can comment - I am out of the loop on this stuff :)

  13. If you liked Good Omens and HGTTU, you should really read Mercury Falls by Robert Kroese. Hilarious. Just when you think it is getting serious, milk shoots out of your nose from snorting so hard.


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