Genre: Steampunk Fiction

December 16, 2014
South Hadley Public Library

Benchmark: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Steampunk Resources:

Notes on Discussion

The meeting had 13 attendees from public libraries including Amherst, Colrain, East Longmeadow, Greenfield, Hatfield, Northampton, Springfield, and Wilbraham.

Introductions were made from each member and Molly announced upcoming genre webinars posted on the MLS Reader’s Advisory webpage.

Jan asked the group about progress on using appeal terms and after a short discussion, advises to complete these reviews as the book is being read rather than after it’s finished. She also suggests keeping track of any possible trigger topics before recommending book to others (especially in mysteries).

Steampunk genre is explained as a Victorian era genre that focuses on technology whether it’s cautionary or celebrating invention, but they also include thought-provoking subjects or political themes. Steampunk lends itself well to other genres such as historical fiction, fantasy, or romance.

Molly and Jan begin discussion of Boneshaker by Cherie Priest.

Opinion varied on Boneshaker; some members felt the zombies were unnecessary, the world was claustrophobic/dark, and the ending left too many questions despite being part of a series. Others enjoyed the storyline but didn’t connect to the characters, a fun action/adventure book, displayed a strong sense of place, and thought the ending was sufficient as a standalone book.

Small discussion on the abundance of series in YA titles.

A main reason for not enjoying the title was the use of modern language and behavior in a Victorian-esque setting. Others disagreed and felt it had Victorian sensibilities. Several members did not finish the book. It was mentioned that this genre would lend itself well to movies.

One attendee thought interest in steampunk had peaked but a very recent event in Springfield was mentioned.

The genre works well with graphic novels but many teens do not enjoy reading it. Jan suggests the possibility that it’s not angry enough. Librarians see mainly adults reading YA steampunk titles but ignoring the adult steampunk titles.

Discussion of second titles began and various non-fiction steampunk books (brought by Molly & Jan) were passed around.

The second titles are as follows:

The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Graphic novel, the pictures were fantastic but the story was horrible)

Soulless – Gail Carriger; Changeless – Gail Carriger (This series was described as appealing to a broad range of readers, fast-paced and easy to read)

Fever Crumb – Philip Reeve

Leviathan – Scott Westerfeld (2 attendees read this as their second title and a few others had previously read it)

Steampunk Softies – Sarah Skeate (A non-fiction craft book for creating small steampunk “dolls”)

The Inventors Secret – Andrea Crema (Title is a combination of dystopian and steampunk)

The League of Extraordinary Men – Alan Moore (Graphic novel with dark but beautiful images)

The Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures (Described as if the reader was watching a movie, really enjoyed the short story “Green Eyed Monsters in the Valley of Sky”)

Mechanique – Genevieve Valentine (Based in a circus and included different character voices)

Perdido Street Station – China Mieville (Introduced as a third title, dense literary story, numerous characters, and more enjoyable as an audiobook)

The Red Plague Affair – Lilith Saintcrow (Second in a mystery series)

Molly reminds group to submit second titles on website. Brief introduction of next title (That Old Cape Magic) and informs everyone an email will be sent out if next meeting is cancelled due to snow.

Literary Fiction handouts given out were also given to other region’s RA workshops, which includes more accessible literary fiction titles.

Round Table concluded with a short conversation on 2015 dates and genres, with a possibility that format may change to include arcs within a single genre. Meetings will continue on the third or fourth Tuesday of every other month, starting February 2015.

Submitted by Lyndsay Johnson – East Longmeadow Library

Second Titles

Name: Candace Curran

  • Title: Fever Crumb
  • Author: Philip Reeve
  • Appeal Factors: Fast moving, unusual and interesting characters
  • Summary/Thoughts: Fever is an apprentice and the only female engineer (woman are not reasonable creatures)  brought up since infancy when found abandoned in a basket by the Order of engineers. She is a mystery with memories that don’t seem to be her own, sent to assist archaeologist, Kit Solvent to uncover a long lost “Scriven”  underground room.  Fever has two different eye colors that make her different and possibly of Scriven blood and therefore hated and in need of disposing.  She  is being pursued and hunted down as she tries to understand who she really is and the meaning of it all.

Name: Lyndsay Johnson

  • Title: The Inventor’s Secret
  • Author: Andrea Cremer

Name: Zoe Keenan

  • Title: Leviathan
  • Author: Scott Westerfeld
  • Appeal Factors: engaging, adventure, fascinating,
  • Summary/Thoughts: Middle schoolers will love this trilogy!

Name: Jan Resnick

  • Title: Changeless
  • Author: Gail Carriger
  • Appeal Factors: Fast paced; Characters – well-developed; Character-driven; Language:  engaging, witty; Tone:  campy humor; 1870’s England
  • Summary/Thoughts: The supernatural world is discomfited by unmaking, a random yet area-wide loss of supernatural ability turning werewolves and vampires mortal and ghosts gone.  Who or what is causing this loss and for what purpose?  The Kingair pack, Conall’s former werewolf lair in Scotland, appears to be key to the problem.
    The revised world of Victorian England is well realized in this novel without so much world building that the story is hard to access.  Alexia Tarabotti, married now to Conall, is quick-witted, self-assured, and bossy.  Her voice and marital state resemble that of Amelia Peabody and Emerson.  The characters are entertaining, and there is enough suspense to keep the story moving.  There are several infernal devices, but again, not so many as to discourage the new steampunk reader.
    Changeless is #2 of the Parasol Protectorate series.
    Similar authors/titles:  Bec McMaster – Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk series), Kate Locke – God Save the Queen (Immortal Empire series), Phillipa Ballantine – Phoenix Rising (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences), Lev AC Rosen – All Men of Genius

Name: Linda Wentworth

  • Title: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures
  • Author: Sean Wallace, Editor
  • Appeal Factors: Setting, Pacing, Amazing technology, Action
  • Summary/Thoughts: I like my steampunk in short bursts. These stories are just the right length to intrigue me with their settings and adventures.

Name: Mary Bell

  • Title: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume 1
  • Author: Alan Moore
  • Appeal Factors: Fast paced; Characterization – well-known characters from famous literary works given a twist, makes it somewhat complicated at times; Language – primarily dialogue (graphic novel); Story – plot-driven; Tone – dark; Frame – 1898, London; Illustrations – dark, comic-book style
  • Summary/Thoughts: A band of misfits works together in London for the mysterious “M” in a series of adventures. Most if not all of the characters are well-known to those versed in the classics, but they each have their own unique twist and there’s no clear black-and-white (at least not yet) in this world. It’s fun to see the characters and inventions of other tales “come to life” so to speak in this dark and sometimes comic tale. Red Flags – violence in fight scenes is pretty graphic at times.





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