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The Past | The Previous

John Clute wrote about Steampunk III: Revolutions on Strange Horizons and my story, 'Possession', gets a nice mention:

Some of the stories assembled in Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution, attempting to fulfill the programme signalled in the subtitle, carry on from there, others play with toolkit, I think less fruitfully, partly because the underlying command that nothing be invisible in Steampunk can create an adhesiveness that binds story to the world being depicted, certainly if the author has nothing subversive to say, so that some tales (no names this time) in the anthology are still-born. Others are not. Nick Mamatas's "Arbeitskraft" (2010), which includes the Marx quote I copied above, quite brilliantly incorporates into its very sympathetic portrayal of Friedrich Engels a savage analysis of what it means when human beings are literally transfigured into chinks in the world machine. Ben Peek's "Possession" (2007) transforms the world into a hole without bottom or god, and immersion of its denizens in eternal darkness as a process of corrosion. Jeff VanderMeer's "Fixing Hanover" (2008) makes a silk purse of story out of a pig's ear: a storyline so heavily trailed that only an intensely skilled unpacking of events could manage to make it new: but VanderMeer, who had sometimes in his earlier work had difficulty with the beat of Next that drives all great story, had no difficulty here. Jeff Ford's fine "The Seventh Expression of the Robot General" (2008) is almost tangible in its melancholy. N. K. Jemisin's "The Effluent Engine" (2011) so winningly depicts early nineteenth-century New Orleans that its failure to do very much to argue an assertion about gender freedom in Haiti seems less an error than (perhaps) a confession that the tale has not yet fully been told (and is a story I'd almost prefer, without being stubborn about it, to call something other than Steampunk).


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