Welcome to the Clockwork Carnival!

Roll up, roll up! The Clockwork Carnival is in town and do we have some epic content for you. We will have articles, giveaways, interviews, recommendations, and a few other things so make sure you check back daily for something new to explore and discover!

Of course, there are those of you within the crowd who may not know what steampunk is. For those of you I say go forth and discover and enjoy! This post may be of particular interest to you, but make sure you return for the wonderful events of the Carnival, you wouldn’t want to miss out.

But where did steampunk come from?

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the late 1980′s and early 1990′s. Specifically, steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used, typically the Victorian Era and the Edwardian Era, that incorporates prominent elements of science fiction and fantasy. A modicum of fantasy is necessary because steam alone simply will not do enough to fulfil the visions of most authors and artists.

Steampunk is often associated with cyberpunk, from which it is derived. They have considerable influence on each other and share a similar fan base, but steampunk developed into a separable movement. Apart from time period and level of technology, the main difference is that steampunk settings tend to be less dystopian. Steampunk is described as “full of wonder” and as “functional, logical, and very British”. Steampunk stories are often romantic and peppered with historical references and brewing rebellions.

The term steampunk was first coined in 1987  by author K.W. Jeter and was used to describe a genre of speculative fiction in which steam, not electricity, drove technological advancements. Steampunk, however, draws on history, first appearing in the 1800s in the scientific romances of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells.

Steampunk as a literary phenomenon has its roots in the 19th century, courtesy of Verne, Wells, and other authorsand since then has begun to appear in other media as well, such as television shows, video and roleplaying games,films, literature, comics and graphic novels, and even Japanese anime and manga. Because these are all visual mediums, the steampunk genre has also developed a visual expectation, although it does tend to vary from story to story.

SourceSteampunk Wiki.

We hope you enjoy the show!

The Clockwork Carnival couldn’t have happened without the wonderful behind the scenes help and support of Ciska, Ellie, and Hanna, so please make sure you give their blogs some love. They are amazing friends and fantastic bloggers. Thank you ladies. So much. And I must also thank the lovely Ravven for the Carnival’s badge. 

Do You Remember Discovering Steampunk?

Back in October 2011, I ran a two week long feature called Discovering Steampunk. In this I aimed to introduce new readers to a quirky genre, and provide some interesting content for readers who already knew about steampunk. There were guest posts, author interviews, giveaways, and reviews. Guest posts talked about certain aspects of steampunk and I did my best to get authors and publishers involved. It was a lot of fun!

Well, it has been about 1 and a half years since Discovering Steampunk and earlier I got thinking: it would be fun to run another feature while I have all of this spare time. I had toyed quite seriously with the idea of running a fantasy feature last year when Naithin was onboard but Naithin didn’t have the time really and I was left to do A LOT of planning and gathering myself so it never happened. I’m not entirely sad about that because while fantasy is my first love, everybody knows what fantasy is, more or less. As fun as some of the pre-planning was looking to be.

So earlier when I started daydreaming after a long session of reading on the bed, I had a ponder over different feature ideas I could run. Fantasy, chick lit, historical fiction, memoirs, magical realism, British literary fiction, dystopian, other cultures… but it all came back to steampunk. While we “discovered” steampunk back in that October 2011, the genre has since exploded with more and more readers discovering the likes of Cherie Priest and Gail Carriger and more steampunk styled novels have been released than ever before. There’s a lot of exploring to be done, and still a lot I didn’t get around to “discovering” the first time.

This time, I’m hoping to look into the origins of steampunk in greater detail, consider steampunk as a sub-genre to fantasy, paranormal, and so on, look more into indie steampunk, invite authors over for a chat, invite bloggers (that’s you!) over also, and hopefully wrangle in a few giveaways (money is extremely tight so any help with this authors/publishers would be amazing!). Since Discovering Steampunk I have collected more and more books which I plan to look into reading and reviewing. It’s going to be awesome.

As such, I’ll be re-opening review requests for a few months. I’m going to be very strict with what I accept, but I am in particular going to be looking for some good steampunk books, and if you’d like to run a giveaway or some kind of guest feature, please let me know. As for any bloggers, publicists, or other steampunk interested parties – I’ll be needing you too! If any of you would like to get involved, please let me know. It’s going to be at least a couple of months in the design and preparation stages so don’t worry about time constraints, there’s plenty of time.

Oh, and as steampunk has already been discovered, we’re going to need a snazzy new name! I just came up with “Clockwork Summer” but not sure yet. Ideas?

Please get in touch with me if you’re interested in joining in. You can comment below or even better, contact me directly! I’m looking for people who know a little about steampunk as well as people who are intrigued and want to know more.

Steampunk Winners!

A very quick post to announce the winners of the Discovering Steampunk giveaway and the Dearly Departed UK ARC giveaway as chosen at random by Rafflecopter.

The winner of the Discovering Steampunk giveaway is Becky! I have already heard back from Becky and shall get her book to her as soon as I can.

And the winner of the Dearly Departed UK ARC is Kristy! Kristy, I still haven’t heard back from you, if you could please get in touch by tomorrow lunchtime else I will have to pick a new winner. There should be an email for you!

Thank you to everybody for your entries and participation in the giveaways and the entire feature. I’m completely over the moon by how much of a success it was and can’t wait to do another sometime!

Discovering Steampunk Wrap-Up

So we finally come to the end of Discovering Steampunk. It’ll be nice to get back to a normal reading/blogging ‘routine’ but it’s been really fun! I’m going to check out a few new blogs and twitter folk when I get time to, promise I’m not ignoring you all there’s just a lot of you, and heck, I’ve learnt a lot and I’m over the moon to see so many of you did too. I’m glad you guys enjoyed the feature so much, hopefully I’ll find time to do something else next year along the same vein.

In the meantime, there are a few guest spots coming up as well as the Bout of Books (no pressure) readathon next week. I’ll also be reading a tonne of Rachel Caine soon so stay tuned! ;) I have a meaty In My Mailbox coming up next Sunday and I should be blogging pretty regularly with the readathon going on in the week (click the button in the sidebar to take part, it’s really worthwhile), and I’m pondering taking part in the Pretty When She Dies readalong as well in November. I bought the kindle version of the book so hopefully I’ll have time to join in, it sounds like a great read! So stick around, the next couple of months are going to be epic! I can’t wait.

I’ll be leaving the Discovering Steampunk button up in my sidebar for a while. It links to the Discovering Steampunk tag so if you fancy a browse through all of the posts, that’s nice and easy, and here’s a list. If you missed any of these, do have a read and leave your comments!

Hopefully there has been something in the past couple of weeks for everyone and I’m so glad you guys enjoyed this as much as I hoped you would! Winners of the giveaways will be emailed when Rafflecopter picks them and they will have 48 hours to reply before I choose a new winner. They will also be announced here on the blog on Tuesday.

[Review] Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

[rating:3.5]
Author: Cherie Priest
Series:
 The Clockwork Century #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Tor
Pages: 414
Published: 2009
Goodreads | Amazon (UK/US)

First sentence:

Unpaved, uneven trails pretended to be roads; they tied the nation’s coasts together like laces holding a boot, binding it with crossed strings and crossed fingers.
Blurb

In an alternate 1860s Seattle, Briar Wilkes and her son Zeke are living hand to mouth on the outskirts of a once bustling city of the gold rush. Sixteen years previous, the city was literally torn asunder by the Boneshaker, a great drill-engine built by Briar’s then husband, Dr. Blue, to mine through Alaska’s ice in search of gold. This terrible disaster not only caused many deaths and ruined livelihoods but unearthed a blight gas that turns anybody who breathes it into the living dead. Now Zeke wants answers. Was his father really to blame? He heads off to the other side of the wall with an old gas mask and an antique rifle and only Briar can bring him back.

Thoughts

Last but not least in Discovering Steampunk: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. Boneshaker is a cleverly weaved nail-biting story full of intricacies and hidden history. Beginning with a catastrophic event that shakes the very foundations of Seattle and its’ people, causing them to have to wall off the main part of the town to remove the possibility of blight contamination from the strange gas that was unearthed all those years ago, it reminded me a lot of an action-horror film.

It is a fantastically written piece of fiction. It’s atmospheric, chilling, and dark. The entire story has layers and hidden depths that I can only hope are explored in later books and the rich description paints such a clear picture of the environment that it is just the story and you. It is told from two perspectives, those of Briar and Zeke, and their stories are so tightly connected yet distant with entirely different voices that it really keeps the narrative ever-changing and fresh.

The relationship between Briar Wilkes, and her son Ezekial is explored in depth as he runs off to recredit his family name from beyond the wall, and Briar strives to rescue him from a world of ‘rotters’ (zombies), blight gas which turns people into rotters if breathed, and the criminals who have made a life for themselves there. It is heart-rending and gripping to the very end.

Briar might actually be one of my favourite heroines in modern fiction. She reminds me of a Ripleyesque 80′s action heroine, kicking arse and not just for the sake of it but because she has to. There is no romance, just a grim fight for survival of herself and her son and she is willing to do anything to save him. The strong female heroine is a very difficult trope to manage because very often it is taken too far and you know it’s been used just to make a statement, or they aren’t that strong at all, however, Briar is neither and I love that about her character.

I would recommend Boneshaker for folk who enjoy a good adult novel. There’s no sexual content but if you don’t enjoy adult fiction, you won’t enjoy this as it can be quite slow-going in parts. However, if that doesn’t bother you, then it comes highly recommended from me as a steampunk staple. There’s a bit of a horror element to it, though nothing that will have you hiding under the covers if you read it at night, there are a few zombies, a strong criminal underground, and everything fits together so well. It’s easy to lose yourself in the story and forget that you’re reading a work of fiction.

The Clockwork Century series:

1. Boneshaker
2. Clementine
3. Dreadnought
4. Ganymede

[Review] Soulless by Gail Carriger

[rating:4]
Author: Gail Carriger
Series:
 The Parasol Protectorate #1
Genre: Paranormal
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 291
Published: 2009
Goodreads | Amazon (UK/US)

First sentence:

Miss Alexia Tarabotti was not enjoying her evening.
Blurb

Miss Alexia Tarabotti, resigned to life as a spinster, is rudely attacked by a vampire when she escapes the ball to find something to satisfy her sweet tooth. Her soulless ability to diffuse supernatural powers with a mere touch is also how she manages to kill the out-of-control hungry vampire. The brash Lord Maccon, rough and messy werewolf, turns up to investigate and Alexia is caught up right in the middle of it. Some supernaturals are going missing, whilst new ones are appearing unregistered. Just what in the heck is going on?

Thoughts

Soulless is a book I’ve had sat on my shelf for a fair few months. I’d heard great things about the series and so when I spotted the first three in The Works (amazing discount bookstore in the UK) I snapped it up. Since reading it, I massively regret only buying the first one when I could have had all three in the 3 for £5 offer and been able to read them as a series, because it is just such a fun read and I really didn’t want to put it down. A lot of paranormal novels are a little bit dark and as much as I love that, sometimes you really want to read something a little lighter and Soulless was absolutely perfect. Gail Carriger has a great sense of humour and has created an interesting alternate world with such colourful characters that you can’t help but love it. It is entirely immersive.

The novel is written in the style of Victorian high-society but much easier to read than, for example, Austen. It feels more like a tip-of-the-hat than a replication and it is very witty and elegant. I found myself giggling along a lot of the time and the characters had a lot to do with that. Noteable mentions go out to Lord Maccon, of course, who is a gruff, scruffy Scottish werewolf with whom Alexia seems to be constantly at war. Their arguments had me in hysterics, I loved them! Then there’s Lord Akeldama, a very flamboyant vampire who lives apart from the hive with his own drones. He’s a friend to Alexia and such a great addition to the alternate world I couldn’t imagine it without him. Ivy Hisselpenny is Alexia’s human friend with a terrible taste in hats, she’s a very silly character who brings a sense of humanity to Alexia’s life. Alexia’s family never ceased to remind me of the Bennett’s of Pride & Prejudice with their obsessions with putting in a good appearance in society and marrying well and their general demeanor. I both hated and loved them. And of course, Alexia herself, who is a half-Italian preternatural spinster with a mind of her own. She is a sarcastic and outspoken strong female lead with a brain. What’s not to love?

I absolutely loved Gail’s unique take on the supernatural mythos. In the Parasol Protectorate, a person’s ability to become supernatural (vampire, werewolf, ghost) depends on how much soul they have. Alexia could never be supernatural because she doesn’t have a soul, some people have a large abundance of soul and some don’t, but it’s difficult to know until they undergo the metamorphosis process. If they make it, they become supernatural, if they don’t, they die. It’s a fairly big risk to take but it is much more interesting than the usual. The other thing that stood out to me was that all supernaturals had something in common. Werewolves are as dead as vampires and ghosts. They’re all hindered by the sun in some way, and Lord Maccon is about 200 years old. It all fit so well.

I did have a little chuckle at the American spellings dotted throughout the book amongst the very otherwise English style of the writing. My only criticism would have to be for the perspective switching mid-scene with no warning. After a while you do get used to it but it can be quite jarring to suddenly be following the story from another perspective when you were with Alexia just in the last paragraph, and there is no indication that it’s happening, not even so much as a line break. I also found the story a little bit predictable though that didn’t take anything away from the story as such, it was still thoroughly enjoyable, it just meant I yelled at Alexia more than I otherwise might have done.

I would definitely recommend this novel. For who? Well, the 18+ crowd. There are a few saucy bits that would be inappropriate for younger readers and they are totally hot. Seriously. It is a witty paranormal steampunk romance and if that description appeals to you, then you will enjoy Soulless.

Basically put: if you’ve been thinking about reading it and/or you think there’s a possibility that you might enjoy it – read it. I know a few of you have mentioned it.

The Parasol Protectorate series:

1. Soulless
2. Changeless
3. Blameless
4. Heartless
5. Timeless

Reader question: What do you guys think of the addition of colour? Too distracting? Or do you think it adds a little bit? Like it but perhaps use less? I thought I’d experiment a little!