School Library Journal - Audio
Gr 8 Up—Fourteen of today's most celebrated young adult authors have collaborated to create this anthology featuring short stories about alternate worlds. Adventure, romance, and, of course, steam-fueled clockwork combine to power this wonderfully inventive collection. Libba Bray's "Last Ride of the Glory Girls" is the highlight of these selections. Read in a sleepy Texas drawl, this otherworldly narrative tells of a young woman getting mixed up with an all-girl band of outlaws who use a time-stopping device to rob trains. Also memorable are Cory Doctorow's "Clockwork Fagin," in which a group of crippled orphans dispose of their cruel caretaker and replace him with a mechanical replica; and Kelly Link's "The Summer People," a hauntingly beautiful tale about a young girl's plot to escape the strange family to whom she is eternally bound in servitude. The collection's two graphic offerings, Shawn Cheng's "Seven Days Beset by Demons" and "Kathleen Jennings's Finishing School," are presented digitally on a bonus disc. These gems could easily get overlooked by listeners—so librarians might want to make note of the bonus offering on the audiobook packaging. Among the authors represented are M. T. Anderson, Holly Black, Elizabeth Knox, Garth Nix, Cassandra Clare, and others. The multiple readers do a fantastic job narrating these tales, employing everything from a Southern twang to an Irish brogue to bring the stories and their characters to life. This anthology has something for everyone and would make a worthy addition to libraries with a high demand for steampunk. However, considering not all stories translate into audio format, libraries may want to offer patrons the print alternative as well.—Alissa LeMerise, Oxford Public Library, MI
Veteran editors Link and Grant serve up a delicious mix of original stories from 14 skilled writers and artists. Among the many high points: Cassandra Clare’s creepy “Some Fortunate Future Day,” in which a lonely girl, grown bored with her sentient clockwork dolls, develops a crush on a wounded soldier; Libba Bray’s subversively funny “The Last Ride of the Glory Girls,” which concerns a girl gang robbing trains and dirigibles on another planet (presumably a future Mars) heavily reminiscent of the Old West; Holly Black’s humorous and romantic “Everything Amiable and Obliging,” whose heroine, a rich orphan, must deal with her feelings toward her cousin and persuade his sister not to marry her clockwork dance instructor; and M.T. Anderson’s magisterial “The Oracle Engine,” which explores the political complexities resulting from the Roman Empire’s development of a Rube Goldberg–like supercomputer. Chockful of gear-driven automatons, looming dirigibles, and wildly implausible time machines, these often baroque, intensely anachronistic tales should please steampunks of all ages. As the lovelorn, mechanically gifted “hero” of comics artist Shawn Cheng’s contribution says, “The world is a machine. Imperfect parts together in a perfect arrangement.” Ages 14–up. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
Steampunk is hot at the moment in literature, art and fashion: This collection taps into the ethos without ever seeming topical or transient, thanks to contributions rich with much more than just steam and brass fittings. . . . An excellent collection, full of unexpected delights.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Veteran editors Link and Grant serve up a delicious mix of original stories from 14 skilled writers and artists...Chockful of gear-driven automatons, looming dirigibles, and wildly implausible time machines, these often baroque, intensely anachronistic tales should please steampunks of all ages.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Within these pages, there's a little something for everyone...This exceptional anthology does great service to the steampunk subgenre and will do much to further its audience.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
Editors Link and Gavin treat fans, old and new, to an array of fantastically rich stories in this polished, outstanding collection...the result is an anthology that is almost impossible to put down... From rebellious motorists to girl bandits, the characters in this imaginative collection shine, and there isn't a weak story in the mix; each one offers depth and delight.
—Booklist (starred review)
It is about time that steampunk short stories really got a focused and creative exploration in YA lit, and this anthology of fourteen pieces is an excellent start.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
Do you like robots and things that go clank in the night as part of your sci fi/fantasy stories? Then, this is the book for you. The first story, "Some Fortunate Day," is about Rose who lives alone in her father's mansion with all of the robots he invented. She falls in love with a wounded pilot, but learns he doesn't love her back. After he leaves her, she remembers her father left behind a time-changing device, giving her infinitesimal chances to win the pilot's love. Of course, who can resist one of Libba Bray's stories? This one's about a girl with a time-warping machine, which she uses to help the Glory Girls rob trains. Interspersed throughout the book are graphic stories, which visually depict human emotions (don't all stories?). The stories are set in different eras or different realities, and some have messages about the danger of living through machines; on a whole, though, there is a happy coexistence of human and machine. Creative writing teachers should especially like this book as a jumping off point for opening their students' imaginations. Includes stories by many leading authors: Cassandra Clare ("Some Fortunate Future Day"), Libba Bray ("The Last Ride of the Glory Girls"), Cory Doctorow ("Clockwork Fagin"), Shawn Cheng ("Seven Days Beset by Demons"), Ysabeau S. Wilce ("Hand in Glove"), Delia Sherman ("The Ghost of Cwmlech Manor"), Elizabeth Knox ("Gesthemane"), Kelly Link ("The Summer People"), Garth Nix ("Peace in Our Time"), Christopher Rowe ("Nowhere Fast"), Kathleen Jennings ("Finishing School"), Dylan Horrocks ("Steam Girl"), Holly Black ("Everything Amiable and Obliging"), and M. T. Anderson ("The Oracle Engine"). Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Most readers have become familiar with the essential steampunk elements: clockwork automatons, brass goggles, mad scientists, brave adventurers, and Victorian imagery. However, this collection of short stories by some of the best YA authors today, including Libba Bray, Garth Nix, and Cory Doctorow, offers something different and takes the steampunk ethos to a new level. Within these pages, there's a little something for everyone. For the romantic, there is Holly Black's "Everything Amiable and Obliging," in which a clockwork automaton exceeds the bounds of its programming and falls in love with the beautiful daughter of its employer. And for the disillusioned, there is Link's lovely and eerily sad "The Summer People," in which a girl in Appalachia is forced to care for the mysterious inhabitants of an unusual house. M. T. Anderson's "The Oracle Engine" is an alternate version of the story of Crassus of Rome that will delight history buffs. And Dylan Horrocks's "Steam Girl," the story of an unusual girl with steampunk sensibilities in modern times, will resonate with those who feel as though they don't quite belong. Two stories told in comic book format will appeal to graphic-novel fans. There is not a weak story in the bunch. This exceptional anthology does great service to the steampunk subgenre and will do much to further its audience.—Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO