Boneshaker (en español)

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In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.

But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and ...

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Boneshaker (en español)

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In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.

But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.

Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.

His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Cherie Priest's much-anticipated steampunk debut has finally arrived in the form of a paperback original. Its plot features the sort of calibrated suspense that readers of her Four and Twenty Blackbirds would expect. Boneshaker derives its title from the Bone-Shaking Drill Engine, a device designed to give Russian prospectors a leg up in the race for Klondike gold. Unfortunately, there was one hitch: On its trial run, the Boneshaker went haywire and, long story short, turned much of Seattle into a city of the dead. Now, 16 years later, a teenage boy decides to find out what is behind that mysterious wall. Can his sister save him in time? Zombie lit of the first order.
Publishers Weekly
Maternal love faces formidable challenges in this stellar steampunk tale. In an alternate 1880s America, mad inventor Leviticus Blue is blamed for destroying Civil War–era Seattle. When Zeke Wilkes, Blue’s son, goes into the walled wreck of a city to clear his father’s name, Zeke’s mother, Briar Wilkes, follows him in an airship, determined to rescue her son from the toxic gas that turns people into zombies (called rotters and described in gut-churning detail). When Briar learns that Seattle still has a mad inventor, Dr. Minnericht, who eerily resembles her dead husband, a simple rescue quickly turns into a thrilling race to save Zeke from the man who may be his father. Intelligent, exceptionally well written and showcasing a phenomenal strong female protagonist who embodies the complexities inherent in motherhood, this yarn is a must-read for the discerning steampunk fan. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
Priest (Fathom, 2008, etc.) bravely, and successfully, ventures into steampunk and zombie-horror territory. The action takes place in an alternate-history version of 1880s Seattle. In Priest's variant, the Klondike gold rush came decades early. In 1863, Seattle scientist Leviticus Blue invented a massive steam-powered machine (Dr. Blue's Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine) to drill for gold through thick ice. When tested, it went out of control and wreaked havoc throughout Seattle, destroying several buildings and killing dozens. Soon after, a mysterious gas, the Blight, turned many who breathed it into predatory zombies called "rotters." Sixteen years later, Blue's widow Briar and son Zeke have little beyond a ruined family reputation. When Zeke impulsively decides to revisit walled-off Seattle to find proof that his father wasn't a villain, Briar follows him into the rotter-infested city. Priest, a Seattle resident, delivers a fast-moving story filled with cool steampunk technology and scary zombies. Fans of science fiction will find much to enjoy here. An impressive and auspicious genre-hopping adventure.
The Barnes & Noble Review

From Paul Di Filippo's "SPECULTATOR" column on The Barnes & Noble Review

Has steampunk jumped Captain Nemo's clockwork shark yet?

The genre -- succinctly described as a mix of archaic tech (either real or fanciful), the supernatural, and postmodern metafictional tricksterism, set in the consensus historical past or alternate timelines -- was first christened in 1987, a lifetime ago as cultural and literary fads are measured, in a letter to Locus magazine from the writer K. W. Jeter. Of course, the actual roots of the form extend back even further, perhaps as early as 1965, when a certain television show named The Wild, Wild West debuted.

Some literary styles and tropes wane with their cultural moment, but others have proved exceedingly long-lived, with writers continually discovering unexplored narrative possibilities within elastic bounds. Perhaps the best example is the Gothic, still with us today, and flourishing, despite being a couple of centuries old.

But steampunk has exfoliated beyond the merely literary, into the daily lives of its fans. Like Civil War re-enactors or medievalist members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, "steampunks" now include those for whom the novels and stories have been superseded by cosplay, crafting, music, partying, artwork, manga, anime, feature films, and the creation of props or working hardware. For every reader and writer of steampunk fiction, there are probably hundreds or thousands of other activists who gleefully embrace some non-written manifestation of the steampunk ethos.

Generally speaking, by the time a subculture such as steampunk secures the attention of major media, resulting in extensive coverage of the craze, said phenomenon is already on the way out. But despite numerous and growing features about steampunk in the national press, such does not seem to be the case, at least in terms of fiction. The juggernaut that is steampunk, like Dr. Loveless's giant mechanical spider in the 1999 film version of The Wild, Wild West, seems capable of crushing all naysayers.

Yet what of the literature itself -- now transformed into something of an appendage -- that spawned the movement? Has it exhausted all the radium bullets in its Gatling gun, or is fresh work still capable of surprising the reader?

Well, the latter half of 2009 proved to be a fine period for steampunk, and 2010 seems to be starting out likewise, with a new novel that manages to do some uncanny things with the genre. (As well, readers should be alerted to Steampunk Reloaded, a forthcoming anthology compiled by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer.)

Thick-lensed goggles of funky brass and leather are a trademark signifier of steampunk. But frequently, beyond a certain fashionableness their utility is negligible. So when Cherie Priest goes to the trouble in her novel Boneshaker to provide a clever rationale for the existence and prevalence of such eye-gear, you know you're in for a meticulously conceived and executed ride.

Seattle, 1863: the giant tunneling machine of mad inventor Levi Blue manages to destroy a sizable portion of the city and unleash a subterranean gas -- the Blight -- which zombifies all who inhale it. (The gas is made visible through, naturally, those goggles.) The citizens respond by walling off the infected district and leaving those trapped inside to die -- or worse. Sixteen years later, Blue's ostracised widow, Briar, lives in the ghetto just outside the wall with her teenaged son Zeke. Intent on clearing his father's name, Zeke takes off one day across the wall, and Briar has no recourse but to follow.

Priest's steampunk wasteland is playfully and productively anomalous. Generally, the genre likes to focus on intact and functioning societies, whether dystopian or mundanely civil. Her depiction of the interzone as an outlaw realm of freedom, however dangerous, evokes the punk dream of life outside establishment strictures -- a dream too often actually neglected in the genre that borrows half its name from that music. The horror tropes are another entertaining divergence from standard steampunk templates.

Likewise, the parallel domestic quests of mother and son (Priest divides the action in half between Zeke and Briar) is a freshening of both motivation and character from the rote adventurers the reader often encounters in this type of tale.

Priest's small, carefully constrained sphere of action (some widening dialogue pertains to the Civil War still raging back East, long after our version had ended) does, however, feel claustrophobic and slightly unambitious at times. But within that limited domain, she manages to impart a vivid sense of strangeness and adventure.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9788498007466
  • Publisher: La Factoria de Ideas
  • Publication date: 5/15/2012
  • Language: Spanish
  • Series: Clockwork Century Series , #1
  • Edition description: Spanish-language Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

CHERIE PRIEST made her debut with the Eden Moore series of Southern Gothic ghost stories that began with Four and Twenty Blackbirds. She lives in Seattle, Washington, and keeps a popular blog at

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2012


    This was a great read!

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