You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Steampunk is a collection of short stories in the steampunk subgenre of science fiction. Steampunk mixes Victorian elements with technology from the era that is extrapolated to futuristic powers.

An excellent example of the genre is the story "The Steam Man of the Prairie and the Dark Rider Get Down: a Dime Novel" by Joe R. Lansdale. It features four men piloting a giant metal man into the wilderness to destroy a powerful vampire like creature called the Dark Rider. The Dark Rider is the traveler from H. G. Wells' story The Time Machine. The story is just a little dark and a little humorous, and full of gritty action.

In a different style, Ted Chiang's "Seventy-Two Letters" is about an alternate reality where instead of DNA biology works through homunculi, miniature representations of beings. The main character is trained in the science or art of creating Hebrew letters to animate golems. He learns that a secret society has learned how to adapt the numerology to living tissue. The story mixes two fantastic elements to create a fascinating world. The story deals with interesting ethical dilemmas due to the technological possibilities.

Paul Di Filippo's story "Victoria" presents an amusing juxtaposition: the virgin queen supplanted by her namesake as a sex-crazed human created from a newt. As the story unfolds, the characters visit the seediest parts of England. It's a story about morality and society as much as technology, and it is a fun story to read.

Other fun and playful stories include "Minutes of the Last Meeting" by Stepan Chapman, which describes an attack on the czar Nicholas and his AI intelligence service. Also there is Jay Lake's "The God-Clown is Near" about the creation of a golem with a moral intelligence. The book includes an overview of the genre and descriptions of noteworthy stories, movies, and comic books. It is a fun read. A-

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