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Steampunk challenge final recap

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The Steampunk challenge 2010/2011 is finished and I would like to do a short recap of what went on. Please, if you read more Steampunk books, feel free to add your review links to the review page. Just because the challenge is officially over doesn’t mean that we can’t make the list grow.

Number of participants: 88

Number of reviews: 82

Number of entries for the flash fiction contest: 43

Winner of the flash fiction contest: Chris Pantazis

Number of entries for the haiku contest: 17

Winner of the haiku contest: Giada M.

Just in case you have bookmarked any of the challenge pages, I changed their location and placed them under the challenge page in the top menu, so previously created links won’t work any longer.

Thank you everybody for participating. It was great fun! And thanks to the very helpful Steampunk community for helping us out with information and reading recommendations.

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Steampunk haiku contest winner

Thanks everybody who entered the steampunk haiku contest. Voting for your favourite steampunk haiku is over and we have a winner.

It is Giada M. with

Clock-Work-Cuckoo-Clown
Steam-Cyber-Space-Ship-Circus
Err-And-Iron-Punk

To see all entries, please go to the entries page.

Congrats, Giada! I will contact you by email to get your shipping address and to find out your choice of steampunk book from The Book Depository.

Many thanks again to Kristi from Northwyke Creations and to Fox Chapel Publishing who generously sponsored the contest with a beautiful Steampunk lapel pin from her Etsy shop and a copy of Art Donovan’s “The art of Steampunk”.

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Steampunk haiku contest

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It is October and the Steampunk challenges is coming to a close. Would you like to take on another Steampunk related creative challenge?

Enter the Steampunk haiku contest!  The winner will receive a gorgeous lapel pin created by Kristi from Northwyke Creations, a print copy of “The art of Steampunk” by Art Donovan from Fox Chapel Publishing and a Steampunk book of his/her choice.

For all the info about the contest please go to the Steampunk haiku contest page.

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The Art of Steampunk by Art Donovan

art_of_steampunkBlurb:

“Extraordinary Devices and Ingenious Contraptions from the Leading Artists of the Steampunk Movement”

The Art of Steampunk seeks to celebrate the world of Steampunk: a world filled with beauty and innovation.  A world in which steam power and technology intertwine to create machines that are not only functional and practical, but unique and striking. 

Art Donovan is the owner of Donovan Design, a handmade lighting company with clients like Tiffany & Co, Bennetti Luxury Yachts, and Four Seasons Resorts. He also specializes in Steampunk-inspired lighting and artwork, and runs a blog devoted to the subculture at http://artdonovan.typepad.com/blog/ He’s also a regular contributor on The Steampunk Home blog, and was the curator of the Steampunk Exhibition at the Museum of the History of Science at The University of Oxford.


In a nutshell:

I liked it:  x Yes       No

For people who like: Steampunk, design, art,


My thoughts: 

When I saw this book at Netgalley it caught my eye right away. I have been a regular visitor of The Steampunk Home for quite some time now  and just love to look at all those gorgeous designs. Also, a book about Steampunk art, instead of fiction, is a good addition to my books for the Steampunk Challenge.

This book is a feast for the eyes.

First we learn about the Steampunk exhibition (of which Art Donovan was the curator) at the Museum of the History of Science  at the University of Oxford, which is followed by an introduction to Steampunk. Already at this point some gorgeous designs are shown.

Then follows a “Steampunk 101” by G. D. Falksen where he answers some very basic questions every Steampunk newbie will ask, for example, “Where does the punk come in” or “What about goggles”.

The next 17 chapters are each dedicated to one specific artist. At the beginning each one is introduced and then his or her designs are displayed. Now this is where the eye candy starts. I just couldn’t stop looking at those gorgeous looking items. I was going to mention some of the most remarkable items but I realized I couldn’t pick any because they all are so wonderful to look at. Just to give you an idea, there is a  laptop, jewellery, sculptures, a cover for cell phones, a clockwork heart, the list could go on and on.

I am considering myself to be a Steampunk newbie and this book is a very good introduction to Steampunk design. Even though you might not be particularly interested in Steampunk as a literary genre or life style, the designs are so beautiful that I can’t imagine anybody would not enjoy looking at them and subsequently want to know more about Steampunk in general.

Product info and buy link :

Title The Art of Steampunk
Author Art Donovan
Publisher Fox Chapel Publishing
ISBN 978-1565235731
Buy link Buy The Art of Steampunk

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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The inventor’s companion by Ariel Tachna

InventorsCompanion Blurb:

Gabriel Blackstone’s world is divided quite clearly into castes: everyone knows their place and abides by it. As an inventor in the merchant caste, his life is predictable in its routine until the night his best friends and assistants, Caleb and Andrew, purchase the time—and body—of a companion for his birthday. As an activist in the Caste Equality movement, everything Gabriel believes in tells him to refuse the gift, but then he meets Lucio. The beautiful and alluring companion is far more than the vapid courtesan he’d expected, and he can’t get the man out of his mind.

After that night, Gabriel tells himself to forget about Lucio, but a chance meeting at a ball makes it clear neither of them is willing to ignore the compelling chemistry between them. It will take all their combined trust and cunning, plus the help of a wily aristocrat and a plucky political activist, to overcome the challenges of infidelity, abuse, and social stigma that lay along their road; however, Gabriel knows it will all be worth it if at the end of the day he can call Lucio his own.

My thoughts: 

I have heard about this story for the first time while it was still in the planning stage when Ariel mentioned it on the occasion of the start of my Steampunk challenge. That was in October and I was very surprised to see that the story already got published a few weeks ago. Needless to say I was more than curious.

The story goes medias in res. Gabriel is ready to go out and meet the companion his friends bought him for the night.  The attraction was immediate and it all went from there.

I liked the characters, the Steampunk elements and the world order Ariel created. The caste system that didn’t leave much room for personal development further than your predefined destiny was quite interesting and I was wondering all the way through the story whether Gabriel and his fellow activists would succeed in their mission to abolish it.

This brings me to a few points that I didn’t quite understand or found hard to believe.

  • The activists want to bring the system down with the help of a politician who they hoped would win the election and a seat in parliament. Of course every movement needs to start small and one candidate for parliament certainly is better than nothing. However, they kept talking about him winning the election and gaining a seat would be abolishing the system in the foreseeable future. How can one MP make that difference that quickly?
  • The immediate attraction between Gabriel and Lucio. OK, at first Lucio was interested in Gabriel simply because he treated him differently than any other customer he had ever known. Understandable. Gabriel found Lucio beautiful, sexy and what not. They meet again and again, but somehow I never quite understood what other factors caused their fascination and love of each other. I can’t recall one conversation where they talk about anything but the circumstances of Lucio’s life or Gabriel’s inventions. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice, I just didn’t get why.
  • Gabriel was way too possessive, jealous and generally unreasonable when it came to Lucio. He knew he was a companion from the start but every time Lucio had to go back to his work place it was the same procedure again. Gabriel didn’t want to let him go. Gabriel couldn’t bear thinking about Lucio with another man. Why ever not? He was told clearly and several times that those encounters are meaningless, superficial, physical and that Lucio gets nothing out of them. Still Gabriel acted as if Lucio was unfaithful to him.
  • Lucio, after being tortured by his client, has to go back to his work place to take on new clients because he didn’t have any gold left to pay for his upkeep. Why didn’t he? He gave all his savings to Gabriel to later be able to buy his contract, so he could have gone to Gabriel and ask for some. Gabriel should have given it to him gladly in order to make it possible to recover completely without having to pleasure other people. Especially since Gabriel was so averse to that thought anyway.
  • Now, my biggest issue. The handlers and their treatment of their most valuable assets. I have no idea who actually owns the pleasure palace, who owns the companions and who makes the big bucks. But if I was a pimp and had a few boys or girls who are top notch companions I would make sure that no client abused them in any way. Lucio made money big time and what do the handlers do? Sell his time to Lady Merydith even though they know that she will torture him to the extent that they will have to black out the following week in his schedule. Does that make any sense? And when he comes back beaten to pulp they just let him deal with it on his own, as if his speedy recovery (of health and good looks) wasn’t important to them. Eventually, when the first client afterwards rejects him, they send him straight to the breeding barn, i.e. his career has ended. Wouldn’t common business sense dictate that they a. do everything they can to prevent abuse from happening and b. if it happens hold the perpetrator responsible and make sure Lucio gets the best treatment so he can work again as soon as possible?
  • The fact they even took Cressida out of the circulation in order to breed with her and Lucio was even more astonishing. Unless they know more about genetic engineering than I am aware of, who ensures that a child of those two will be equally successful as a companion as its parents? Wouldn’t it make more sense to get more money out of Cressida’s clients instead of throwing her away like that?
  • I think it would have been better if I had known a bit more of the organization of the world the characters were living in. That way I would have also understood how it was possible that Gabriel after being arrested at a political rally could have been imprisoned for a month without being prosecuted and sentenced, simply because the guardians, whom I considered to be policemen, said so. There seems to be a parliament, a police force, so where are the judges?

In spite of all those points I enjoyed reading “The Inventor’s Companion” quite a bit. I think if a few more explanations and background information had been given it would have been easier to understand some situations and reactions of people. As it was it left me a little bit dissatisfied. 

 

Title The inventor’s companion
Author Ariel Tachna
Publisher Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 978-1-61581-823-5
Buy link Buy The Inventor’s companion

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Like Clockwork by Bonnie Dee

like_clockwork_coverBlurb:

Victoria’s work with automatons has gained her renown and changed the face of London. But her concern that the clockworks are taking too many jobs away from humans, creating social unrest, is ignored. Given the ugly mood of the underclass, she fears more outbreaks of violence similar to the murder spree of the notorious Southwark Slasher.

Dash, unemployed thanks to the clockworks, has pledged fealty to The Brotherhood, a group determined to bring about the downfall of the automatons by any means necessary. His plan to kidnap Victoria goes awry when the unorthodox scientist pledges her assistance to their cause.

Despite their opposite social classes, a bond grows between them, and Victoria begins to feel emotions she never expected for the passionate Dash. But when the Slasher strikes close to home, Dash and Victoria realize that the boundaries of polite society are far from the only threat to their happiness…

My thoughts: 

If you are a regular reader of my blog you might know that I like Bonnie Dee a lot. When I saw “Like Clockwork” available at Netgalley I requested it quickly for two reasons.  Well, it’s by Bonnie Dee and it has a Steampunk theme.

As it turned out the story is a mixture of Steampunk, romance and mystery with a definite Jack the Ripper flavour (here called “Southwark Slasher”). After the first few pages I got the impression that the society in the story is somewhat like the ancient Romans, lazy, decadent and letting the automatons do all the work. However, the social problems that might come from a flooding of slaves (here: automatons) were solved by trying to get rid of all the poor that were driven out of work.

Victoria is another one of those down to earth heroines with very unconventional ways. Being kidnapped by Dash didn’t make her bat an eyelid; the necessary attraction to him did the rest to make this a very pleasant read. She was ready to acknowledge her feelings, something I always like in a woman, and act on them accordingly. Actually she was the driving force, which is quite unusual.

The automaton problem was not resolved in the story. I could complain about this, but the story was almost too short as it was, I could hardly expect to see such a complex social problem solved. At least the Slasher was brought to justice, well, sort of anyway. Call me slow, but I had no idea about who it was, even though in retrospect the prologue already should have given me a clue.

The Steampunk angle was quite nice, but apart from the ubiquitous dirigible in the sky and, of course, the automatons themselves, there was not much difference to a historical romance. It seems “clockwork” is THE Steampunk word. I don’t know how many Steampunk titles are out there with “clockwork” in the title, but somehow I get the feeling that that word is being seriously overused.

For lovers of short romance this is definitely worth a try.

You might also be interested in reading this:

What turned me on to robots by Bonnie Dee at Steamed!

Title Like Clockwork
Author Bonnie Dee
Publisher Carina Press
ISBN 9781426890963
Buy link Buy Like Clockwork
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Steampunk Flash Fiction contest winners

Voting for the Steampunk Flash Fiction Writing Contest ended yesterday. The winner was not immediately obvious because some people don’t seem to read what’s being said and just vote in whatever way they want.
Just in case anybody is wondering, I did not count the two comments below the poll. Commenting on the poll site was not the proper way to vote. 

So, to cut a long story short…

Winner of the Steampunk Flash Fiction Writing contest is Chris Pantazis with his story no. 33. (44 votes).

The two runners up are Horatio der Vere with story no. 40 and Paul Cyr with story no. 9 “Synaesthesia” (both 37 votes)

Congratulations to the winners! I will contact you by email as soon as possible.

Thank you everybody for participating. I am sure we all enjoyed reading your stories, it was a fun event.

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More prizes

Here are pictures of some more prizes to choose from for the Steampunk Flash Fiction Writing Contest. Kristi from Northwyke Creations has done a great job again.

Eight more days to send me your submissions for the contest.

Remember to come back on the 29th to read all the entries and vote for your favourite.

Steampunk pin 

Universal pin for all sorts of purposes, for the lapel, neckerchief, tie – it’s up to you.

 

Steampunk jewellery

Large clear smokey quartz stone with lots of antique watch gears and cogs and one jeweled watch piece attached, hanging from gold chain and gold headpin. Beautiful piece, a definite conversation starter! Total 2 3/4 inches in length.

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Steampunk writing contest prizes

Like I said before, one of the prizes for the Steampunk Flash Fiction Writing Contest will be a piece of Steampunk jewellery created by Kristi from Northwyke Creations. If you have not checked out her Etsy store you really should go and do so. Her creations are absolutely lovely and unique.

She sent me a few pictures today so you will get a better idea about what the winners can choose from.

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A gorgeous genuine set of 7mm white pearls on 14k gold-filled studs, accented with antique watch gears.

 

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One 17-inch necklace with an antique Elgin watch plate, a flywheel, gear and a 2mm round cut AA quality Mozambique garnet with gold headpins and a gold fill chain and clasp.

 

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A pair of cufflinks on brass bases with three gears from antique pocket watches.

Don’t they look awesome? I am totally in love, especially with that necklace. So, if you are still undecided whether to enter the contest, what are you waiting for? Great prizes to be had and nothing to lose. 

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Soulless by Gail Carriger

imageBlurb:

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire — and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

My thoughts: 

This is the first book I read for my Steampunk challenge. Everybody talks about the Parasol Protectorate series, of which this is the first book with Changeless and Blameless to follow. Two more sequels, Heartless and Timeless, will be released in the next two years.

Since this is the first steampunk book I have ever read (except a m/m novella which I don’t count here) I have no idea how to rate it as far as the steampunk factor is concerned. It is set in an alternative Victorian London; werewolves, vampires, ghosts and other supernatural beings have come out years before and are now an official, if not 100% popular, part of society. The plot revolves around mysterious appearances and disappearances of supernatural beings and it is up to Alexia and Lord Maccon to detect what is going on (if only by accident and with the help of a few delectable dandies).

Alexia is a preternatural, the only one known in fact, who can neutralize supernatural powers merely through touch. I found this an interesting twist. In no paranormal story I have read so far did I come across anybody who could negate the supernatural at all, let alone this easily. Her interactions with her paramour-to-be were delightful. Both thoroughly dislike each other – or so they think – and that made for some very agreeable banter.

The other main characters are all fleshed out and, if not likeable, at least believable. The typical werewolf – vampire differences are in place. The vampires are refined to foppish, the werewolves down-to-earth to rough and boisterous. I absolutely loved Lord Akeldama and his drones. I hope I will see more of them in the future.

One thing I could have done without were the descriptions of the experiments in the club. I hate that sort of thing and I would have known that those scientists were rather crazy, fanatical and dangerous without reading all that. So I skipped some of it, even though I am sure I missed out on some great machinery ideas that way.

The idea to lock Alexia into the cell with the biggest werewolf gave a chance to throw in a lovely scene between her and Lord Maccon. Strange how people in love are inclined to kiss and pet even in the worst circumstances. But then, I suppose they were locked in and could only wait. So what better pastime than to make out?

I very much enjoyed reading Soulless and will definitely continue with that series. If you like the paranormal, romance (not too explicit), an element of humour and a lot of entertainment, get it!

On Gail Carriger’s website you will find a page about Alexia’s London, along with sketches of characters and outfits, deleted scenes and more. A nice addition to the reading experience.

Title Soulless
Author Gail Carriger
Publisher Orbit Books
ISBN 978-0316056632
Buy link Buy Soulless

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

WANT TO KNOW WHAT OTHERS THOUGHT OF THIS BOOK? HAVE A LOOK AT:

Heather at Books and Quilts 

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Steampunk Flash Fiction Writing Contest

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Are you looking for a challenge other than reading steampunk? We have the right thing for you. Kristi from Northwyke Creations and I are hosting a Steampunk Flash Fiction Writing Contest. Win a unique piece of awesome steampunk jewellery or steampunk book of your choice!

The contest runs until Nov. 28, 2010. For all the info you need, please go to the Steampunk Flash Fiction Writing Contest.

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Kicking off the Steampunk Challenge

steam Even though some of us have started reading and reviewing already today is the official start of the year long steampunk challenge. If you haven’t taken a look at the reviews posted on the reviews page you should do so. I am sure we will all get lots of ideas about what to read next from them.

My first two books have still not turned up, so I will have to be patient. What is your first book to read? Are you going to start with an anthology or is it going to be a chunkster right away?

If you need reading recommendations please have a look at the recommendations page. I will continuously add books to the list, so check back from time to time.

Want to know who else is participating? Go to the participants’ page. I have listed everybody with a link to their blog or website (if there is one). 

Thanks to everybody for participating. I am sure it’s going to be a fun reading year.

image by timobalk at sxc.hu

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September book buying ban wrap-up

It’s the last day of September so the book buying ban is more or less over. Actually I was good, however, I did order two books a few days ago. BUT, they have not arrived yet, so I will be easy on myself and not count them. I bought the two books for the Steampunk challenge which will start tomorrow and I wanted to be prepared.

Apart from those I only bought two books as gifts for a friend’s birthday (The Gargoyle and the Baking kit) and read a few books for review that I explicitly excluded from the ban.

All in all I am pretty happy with myself.

How about you? Did you persevere or did you break the ban?

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Steampunk challenge update

Wow, I am totally overwhelmed by the response to the challenge. I’m still working on the list of participants, but will post it asap. So far 27 people have signed up and a lot of steampunk lovers have given us tons of recommendations.

There are even a few reviews up already even though the challenge hasn’t even begun officially. Isn’t that great? Make sure you go and see what some of us have already read. Seems everybody is quite enthusiastic about it and eager to start. So am I. I ordered two books which should arrive shortly (and broke the book buying ban in the process).

I am going to start with something light and fluffy (according to some), “Soulless” and then will have a look at the “Steampunk” anthology to get a little overview of what is out there.

What are you all going to start with?

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New Steampunk challenge

You might have read that I started to become interested in Steampunk. I want to explore the genre and find out what is out there. So while tweeting the other day the thought came up to organize a Steampunk challenge. And here it is.

If you are interested in Steampunk and would like to join my Steampunk challenge, please go to my Steampunk challenge page and sign up there.

We will all link to our reviews or other related Steampunk blog posts, so we can all discover this interesting genre together. Your reading recommendations are more than welcome!

If you would like to grab the Steampunk button for your blog, just copy and paste the code below the button in the left sidebar.