From the Publisher
One of Amazon’s Best SF/F Books of September 2011
“Rosen’s lighthearted debut puts a steampunk spin on the Victorian comedy of manners while sneakily critiquing the gender biases of both genres… Decommissioned robots, mysterious mechanisms, strange squid creatures, blackmail, and a number of vivid characters add up to a great deal of fun.”
“A nimble twist on Victorian romance that’s woven into Rosen’s intricate web of attractions, repulsions, and matrimonial machinations. But he never lets his mesh of relationships—or his fluid, playful views of sexuality—overwhelm a sprawl of vibrant, witty characters… Steampunk soap-opera, as elevated as it is, isn’t all Rosen has up his sleeve. Tackling the genre at its root, All Men slyly examines the psychology and the aesthetics behind the act of human invention.”
—The Onion A.V. Club, A-
“Rosen writes with color and verve, particularly in his descriptions of mechanical marvels, and also offers moments of unexpected poignancy.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Fits well on the shelf with Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, with broad crossover appeal to fans of SF, historical romance, and young adult fiction.” —Library Journal
Rosen’s lighthearted debut puts a steampunk spin on the Victorian comedy of manners while sneakily critiquing the gender biases of both genres. Violet Adams is an inventor and the daughter of a renowned astronomer who has just left Britain for a lecture tour of America. In his absence, she, her brother, and their friend Jack Feste scheme to get her into the all-male Illyria College, home to the finest scientists of the age. The course of true science never does run smooth, and soon Violet conceives a disconcerting passion for Ernest, the duke of Illyria, and is hotly pursued in turn by his attractive young ward, Cecily. Decommissioned robots, mysterious mechanisms, strange squid creatures, blackmail, and a number of vivid characters add up to a great deal of fun. (Oct.)
Scientifically brilliant yet socially awkward 17-year-old Violet Adams aspires to attend Illyria College in London, the preeminent school for scientists in Victorian England seeking to build a better automaton or improve creatures' genetic potential by splicing their parts across species. Since the school does not admit women, Violet plots with her twin brother, Ashton, to attend under his name. "Ashton" is accepted and quickly comes to the attention of the headmaster, Ernest, the son of the late Duke Illyria, and his ward, Cecily. Violet's friend Jack is aware of her ruse and her growing feelings for Ernest, while Jack's own feelings toward Cecily are thwarted by her obsession with Ashton. While Shakespeare's Twelfth Night inspired the use of Illyria as a setting and the conflicting gender identities, and Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest inspired the dual identity roles and several character names, Rosen blends his own voice into a steampunk comedy of manners featuring not-so-petty jealousies, killer automatons running amok, genetic tinkering, blackmail, and a final exam involving the Queen. VERDICT This debut literary steampunk novel fits well on the shelf with Gail Carriger's "Parasol Protectorate" series (Heartless), with broad crossover appeal to fans of sf, historical romance, and young adult fiction.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA
Rosen's debut fantasy: a steampunk mashup ofTwelfth NightandThe Importance of Being Earnest.
Seventeen-year-old Violet Adams, a brilliant inventor of mechanical devices and automata, disguises herself as her twin brother Ashton so that she can attend London's famous (and male-only) Illyria College, which specializes in the sciences. The masquerade becomes somewhat more uncomfortable when the school's headmaster, Duke Ernest of Illyria, begins to have unsettling feelings regarding "Ashton," as does his beautiful young ward and cousin, Cecily Worthing, who is herself pursued by Violet's childhood friend and fellow student, Jack Feste. Meanwhile, the sinister second-year student Malcolm Volio plots to seize control both of the school and Cecily.Those conversant with both plays will have a fairly good idea of the role each character will assume and how the story will go. The steampunk story line, involving a secret cabal of scientists seeking world domination, climaxing in chaos at the Crystal Palace and the expected cameo by Queen Victoria, may seem equally familiar to many readers. The lack of surprises is somewhat ameliorated by a multitude of amusing allusions to the novel's sources, especially Bunburry, the constantly ailing and entirely imaginary friend inEarnest, who's transformed into a very real and incredibly accident-prone scientist. (It is unfortunate that Lady Augusta Bracknell, the imperiously witty matriarch who providesEarnest'sbest lines, is morphed into a foul-mouthed, oafish astronomy professor.) Rosen writes with color and verve, particularly in his descriptions of mechanical marvels, and also offers moments of unexpected poignancy, such as the sad history of Cecily's governess Miriam, whose characterization far exceeds the depth of her initial inspirations,Earnest'sditzy Miss Prism andTwelfth Night'scomic maid Maria.
Here's hoping Rosen will strike out into fresher territory in future efforts.