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In this third anthology focusing on the fast-evolving genre of steampunk (Steampunk; Steampunk Reloaded), contributor Margaret Killjoy writes in an essay, "Steampunk offers a level-headed (and top-hatted) critique of modernity." Along with four essays, the 39 stories of retrofuturism vary widely in theme, setting, and prose style, inviting a wider definition of the term steampunk. Some interweave closely with fictional history (e.g., "The Stoker Memorandum") or with actual history. Other tales involve everything from flight engineers in the Philippines to a mystic spaceship in ancient Hindustan, from contraband cars to a brass-bound postapocalyptic landscape. Readers will also meet a cyborg queen in Peking's Forbidden City, a criminal-turned-defender of art's beauty, living aircraft, and disturbing dream artificers. There's even advice from a literary squid. Verdict Those already familiar with the steampunk basics will welcome this new addition, which expands this subgenre's borders and helps readers examine technology and society.-Sara Schepis, East Fishkill Community Lib., Hopewell Junction, NY (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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VanderMeer's follow-up to previous similarly themed anthologies targets established fans of the retro-infatuated steampunk movement. In addition to four nonfiction pieces by gnere luminaries such as Jaymee Goh of "Silver Goggles" fame, including Margaret Killjoy's "Steampunk Shapes Our Future," the collection offers 28 stories, several of them standouts. In Ben Peek's "Possession," a botanist trying to regenerate soil in the Earth's crust discovers a dying female android, while Karin Tidbeck's sad, whimsical "Beatrice" relates a tale of love between man and airship. Vandana Singh's "A Handful of Rice" entertains with its alternate history of India. Technology runs amok in Jeff VanderMeer's "Fixing Hanover," in which inventors suffer unintended consequences from their creations, and in Christopher Barzak's surreal "Smoke City," about an urban industrial hell. Readers who enjoy steampunk largely for its visual aesthetic or use in other genres like YA and mystery may find less appeal in a collection geared mostly toward hardcore devotees. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.