Showing posts with label steampunk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label steampunk. Show all posts

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Bodacious Creed by Jonathan Fesmire

Bodacious Creed: A Steampunk Zombie Western by Jonathan Fesmire. Bodacious Publishing, 2017. Ebook. 370 pages.

Bodacious Creed is pitched as a steampunk zombie western. You're probably thinking that sounds like a pretty crazy combination, right? If you are, I thought so too (and if you aren't thinking that, then I'd like to hear what sort of books you typically read). Now, I've never really read a Western, I've only read a small handful of steampunk books, and I also don't typically like zombies. So why did I decide to read it? Because sometimes there are things that just sound so unique you have to try it out--plus, almost all of the reviews for this book on Goodreads are exceedingly positive, so I thought there was a pretty good bet that this would work out, so I took the chance. And you know what? It was amazing!

I'm honestly not even sure how to start talking about this book. Everything about it was so unexpected for me, so I'll just dive in headfirst. First, let's talk about the Western/steampunk setting mix. I personally think that Fesmire did a really skillful job meshing these two ideas into something oddly yet incredibly authentic and interesting. Despite how unlikely it seems to have such advanced technology in the 19th century, Fesmire makes the mechanics and technology so realistic and compelling to read about. It's this sharp dose of steampunk that actually made this book have such a strong sense of realism and plausibility.

The main characters are Anna Lynn Boyd and Marshal James Creed, both of whom were really well-written characters. Anna is the madam of a bordello in the town of Santa Cruz, a place where she offers women a chance to make fair work and live a semi-safe and comfortable area. Anna is a really great character overall: shes intelligent,  has common sense, and she's an incredibly hard worker, something that I always admire in a lead character. She also always seems to be one step ahead of people and has a keen mind for business and, of course, for her technological pursuits, which are among the best in the nation. Marshall Creed is another interesting character that brought so much to the book through his forceful yet endearing demeanor. He's a thoughtful man who doesn't necessarily want all of the attention that is given to him, but accepts it all the same and tries to live normally. He does his best to always help out those who need it, but most importantly he hunts criminals that are causing the most trouble to the average citizen.

The rest of the characters portrayed in this book are all equally well-done. There is a small, rather pleasant variety of villainous characters--such as Corwin Blake, a man on the run--that are all very different in personality, as well as characters that are more 'grey' and don't have as defined roles as others, which I think added a lot to the book. I also particularly liked Anna's lover, Jonny, who is unable to speak but still proves to be an incredibly prominent and intriguing character who plays an extremely important role in Anna's life.

The zombie aspect of this book (the part that I was most skeptical about) comes into play when Anna uses her immense knowledge of this steampunk technology to bring him back to life-- and don't worry, this is all in the synopsis, no spoilers. When I think of the stereotypical zombie, it's usually the cliche'd idea of mindless drones that 'must eat brains,' which is what generally turns me off from them. Well this isn't like that at all. This is a much deeper, more nuanced and interesting way to portray zombies and explores the idea of having this new technology and the ramifications of bringing people back from the grave. The trouble comes when the antagonist of this book, who shouldn't have that type of power, gets ahold of the technology begins to use it less skillfully and for more nefarious purposes.

Fesmire has truly created a strong world that felt incredibly real and was full of colorful characters. There is a great balance of action and plot, which is important to the success of any entertaining novel. The action is well-written and kept me hooked on the page, and the areas that were slower and focused more on plot and character development were just as appealing. This is a book that handles a lot of interesting ideas, such as expanding technological abilities and determining good vs. 'evil' people, and I think Fesmire did a really good at combining all of these aspects to create a entertaining story.

Overall, I've give four stars to a book that I had no idea I would enjoy as much as I did! If you like steampunk books, zombies, or western, go check this one out! If you're ambivalent to all of those things, but still want to try something new--check this one out!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Everfair by Nisi Shawl

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:

Everfair by Nisi Shawl
Publication Date: September 6th, 2016
Tor Books
Amazon Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

From Goodreads:
An alternate history / historical fantasy / steampunk novel set in the Belgian Congo, from noted short story writer Nisi Shawl.

Everfair is a wonderful Neo-Victorian alternate history novel that explores the question of what might have come of Belgium's disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier. Fabian Socialists from Great Britian join forces with African-American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo's "owner," King Leopold II. This land, named Everfair, is set aside as a safe haven, an imaginary Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated.

Shawl's speculative masterpiece manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvelous and exciting exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history. Everfair is told from a multiplicity of voices: Africans, Europeans, East Asians, and African Americans in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced. Everfair is not only a beautiful book but an educational and inspiring one that will give the reader new insight into an often ignored period of history.

There are so many incredible upcoming releases that I'm eagerly anticipating that it becomes hard to choose just one each week to spotlight! But Everfair's upcoming release luckily made it a bit easier to choose. I haven't read many alternate history or steampunk novels (especially not together), so I'm really excited about those aspects of this story. I also don't know much about this particular event in history, and although this is an alternative history, I am very interested to understand more about it! I am really looking forward to digging into this complex and representative work.

If you're at all interested in Everfair, be sure to check out this article about both the book and its incredible author, Nisi Shawl, in this article at Tor Books.

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Vanishing Glow by Alexis Radcliff

A Vanishing Glow by Alexis Radcliff. CreateSpace; 2015. 346 pages. Ebook.

**I received a free copy of this book from the author, Alexis Radcliff, in exchange for an honest review.**

Prior to the email I received from Alexis Radcliff, I had never heard of this book or the author, so I was in uncharted territory, something that can be either surprisingly pleasant or decidedly unfortunate. After reading the synopsis provided, however, I was definitely intrigued and knew that I would be reading this book - and it turned out even better than expected!

Quick note: this book is one of those where it's hard for me to discuss it too extensively for fear or revealing any spoilers, so I will try to be as detailed yet spoiler-free possible so as to avoid revealing anything too important.

A Vanishing Glow is set in a land that is spilling over with revolutionary vibes and political unease. Jason Tern arrives in Ghavarim in order to become Lord Tern, the right hand man to his childhood friend and soon to be crowned king, Nole Ryon. Meanwhile, Nilya has joined the Crimson Fist as a sapper, where she ends up embarking on a journey never expected with a companion she did not ask for.

To begin, if there's anything that Radcliff does really well, it's create and develop characters. As mentioned above, Jason is a young noble who travels to Ghavarim where he is about to become Lord Tern. What I really appreciated about Jason was that although he was an extremely intelligent, observant, and resourceful man, he certainly had his flaws. Jason is, to be blunt, a bit hotheaded and tends to let his emotions guide him at times, which I found to be very authentic and a common manner for many people to act in intense situations. At times, I felt somewhat annoyed with him, for he came off a bit overly confident and overly bullheaded at various points throughout the story, so I was actually glad to have that bit of complexity.

Nilya is a fierce woman intent on creating and doing big things with her talent; she wants to stand out and be respected. When we are first introduced to Nilya, we see only her intelligence, stubbornness, and determination - which are all great qualities, though somewhat one-dimensional. However, as the book progresses we are privy to much deeper mental struggles that Nilya deals with, creating a wonderfully well-rounded and intriguing character. I was very intrigued by Nilya, for as bold and determined as she is, she's also very sensitive and compassionate; she knows where her principles and morals lie, and she tries hard to stick to those.

Another thing I really liked was the dual point-of-view. By now it's probably pretty apparent that I'm not always a big fan of multiple POVs, but I was pleased to find that it worked extremely well in this book.Jason's POV gave us more of the noble and aristocratic POV; we got to see how things were working in the upper levels and within the monarchy itself. With Jason, though, we are also able to see a "hidden underworld" where people definitely do not act in accordance with the laws set up by the nobility. However, Nilya's perspective is of the lower class - the Crimson Fist (Ghavarim's army) to be precise. Nilya meets a fellow travel companion who is not a fan of the monarchy and upper class, so I enjoyed being able to see the differences between the two sides of the coin. I also found it interesting to see how different lands had adapted to various 'modern' mechanisms and ideas, and other were still considered 'backwards.' For instance, the upper class and nicer areas employ the use of Mystech for things like electricity, whereas other places still use candles and less advanced 'technology.'

Radcliff does a wonderful job of weaving in a mixture of fantasy, tech, steampunk, and political intrigue into this delightfully fresh and exciting book. I loved the mix of technology and steampunk mechanisms with magical elements, as it's something that I've rarely - if ever - had the opportunity to experience before. Radcliff has created a very vivid and extensive world, filled to the brim with political scandal and intrigue. There are twists and turns at every corner; Radcliff definitely keeps you on your toes, which made for an exciting trip. Now, I tend to get a bit muddled up in fantasy novels that have a vast amount of politics, unique world intricacies, etc. (here's looking at you, Steven Erikson), but Radcliff did a very nice job of creating and conveying her creation in a readable and enjoyable manner.

One of the aspects of this novel that was most interesting to me was how the relational and sexual aspects of society operates. Until a man and woman are 'joined' (which I assume is basically the equivalent of our marraige?), they do not have any form of relationships with those of the opposite gender as we normally do, but instead have 'bedfellows' with those of the same gender. If you were involved in a heterosexual manner with someone who you are not 'joined' to, you are referred as a 'breedlust,' and this is extremely frowned upon. I'm really hoping that subsequent books delve a bitter deeper into this world and its customs!

I can certainly see where this book could use some development, but on the whole I felt it was a very solid, intricate, and engaging story that any fantasy or steampunk fan would enjoy.  There are so many places and ideas that Radcliff can and will hopefully explore in any subsequent books, so I will definitely be sticking around to check out the next book in the series!

Overall, A Vanishing Glow provided a thrilling and entertaining ride through a well-developed land with many diverse characters, and for that I am giving it four stars. As stated above, I would recommend this for anyone who likes fantasy, steampunk, or simply a entertaining book with interesting and unique story lines.

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