Thursday, March 18, 2010

Steampunk, etc.

Back in November, I attended a youth services forum that featured a program on Steampunk.  I was unable to sit in on that session, but I knew that I'd have to follow up.  After all, I didn't even know what Steampunk was! Now I'm finally (somewhat) up to speed on this genre.

 In her session materials, presenter Sharon Rawlins defined Steampunk as "a sub-genre of fantasy and science fiction often set in the steam-powered Victorian and Edwardian eras. It imitates the speculative fiction of H.G. Wells & Jules Verne and features anachronistic technologies such as dirigibles and computers."

I checked my library's available Steampunk audiobook downloads and decided on the Hunchback Assignments.  Truthfully, I didn't have great expectations. Suprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, although the story was a bit too dark for my taste.

Modo, a deformed hunchback, is rescued from a gypsy's travelling sideshow by a benevolent, but cool and distant benefactor, Mr. Socrates.  Raised in isolation and trained for varied and dangerous eventualities, Modo finally learns the true reason for his rescue.  He begins a series of increasingly dangerous missions against an increasingly malevolent and murderous foe that threatens the very fabric of English society.

The publisher's book trailer and a link to Chapter 1 are below; however, I must note that I don't feel as if the trailer does the book justice.  The trailer adds a bit of comic lightheartedness that is missing in this compelling adventure story.  Jayne Entwhistle's presentation in the audiobook version has the perfect tone for this dangerously gloomy adventure story. I found it to be somewhat like The Golden Compass in mood.

A convincing story that makes it easy to suspend disbelief.  Modo is a flawed hero who is easy to admire, and his female interest, Octavia, is a perfect foil.

Slade, Arthur. 2009. The Hunchback Assignments, Book 1. Read by Jayne Entwhistle.  Listening Library.

Read Chapter 1 online.

The Hunchback Assignments (Book Trailer) from Arthur Slade on Vimeo.

Interested in reading some Steampunk yourself? You may find a list of titles from Sharon Rawlins' presentation here.

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