Oh god, I am so behind with this review.
I'm really bad at reading stuff my friends have had published, and I'm not proud of that; I think perhaps some of it is that my Advanced Reader Copies usually come in digital format, and that takes more effort than simply dragging a book onto the train with me. I really need to save up for an ebook reader of some kind.
But I've been working my way through Steam Powered II: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories
and it's really good reading. I was sent a copy because a good friend, Jeannelle Ferreria, had a story in it, but I've been enjoying most of the stories in various ways. I mean, I like steampunk, and I like to support work that presents more diversity than one generally gets in big publishing, but the stories themselves are really well done so I'm happy to recommend the anthology wholeheartedly.
Jeannelle's story, A Thousand Mill Lofts Gray
, almost seems out of place in a Steampunk anthology because it's so firmly rooted in a historical era and a specific culture, but as with all of her writing I love how she presents that culture: the tension between a poor Jewish factory worker and an upper-class gentile photographer is fantastic and detailed. It does have a lot of lovely steampunk touches; one of the heroines who has a functional, jointed ivory hand because she lost hers in an industrial accident. It touches on the darker side of steampunk in a way a lot of stories in the genre don't: the fact that Steampunk romanticises an era before labor laws and unions, when colonialism and class snobbery were at an all time high.
I think my other favorite story is Playing Chess in New Persepolis
, by Sean Holland; I mean, clockwork steampunk chess tournament with bonus love story for the win
There's a strong variety
within the anthology as well; there are a lot of women of colour represented, from a charming Cuban submarine designer in Amphitrite
by SL Knapp to the exceptional adventure story Dark Horse
by AM Tuomala (who has also published with my friends at Candlemark & Gleam) which is about the adventures of an Englishwoman, Prudence, and a Moroccan woman, Suhailah, set in Istanbul and told through Suhailah's eyes.
So I've really been enjoying it, and I think you guys will too; four hundred pages of steampunk and awesome women, what's not to like? I don't usually link to purchase pages in my reviews, but the anthology is put out by a smallish indy press so I'd like to help them along if I can -- the anthology can be found here
for $8.99 for eBook, and there's a preorder link for the paperback.