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Extraordinary Engines: The Definitive Steampunk Anthology Mass Market Paperback – September 30, 2008

13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author


Nick Gevers is a South African science fiction editor and critic, whose work has appeared in The Washington Post Book World, Interzone,, SF Site, The New York Review of Science Fiction and Nova Express. He writes two monthly review columns for Locus magazine, and is editor at the British independent press, PS Publishing; he also edits the quarterly genre fiction magazine, Postscripts.




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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Solaris (September 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844166007
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844166008
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 4.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #922,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By James Higgins on March 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
I have to admit I was a little leery of picking up `Extraordinary Engines', one of two steampunk anthologies released in 2008. I had read the VanderMeers' `Steampunk' collection and came away from it a bit underwhelmed. But unlike the VanderMeer's anthology, which was a collection of previously published material, `Engines' features all new tales specifically commissioned for the book. So I decided to spend my $7.99 and see what editor Nick Gevers has wrought. It's rare to find an anthology that contains a preponderance of noteworthy entries, but I'm always willing to see what an editor new to the field can accomplish.

`Engines' contains 13 Steampunk and steam-fantasy entries; the authors are all well-published. Some, such as Ian MacLeod and Jay Lake, also are contributors to the VanderMeer's book.

The best stories are:

`Machine Maid', by Margo Lanagan, is at once amusing, and quietly vicious. The nameless first person narrator is a newlywed prim Victorian housewife, who joins her husband at his ranch in the Australian Outback. She discovers (to her shock and dismay) that the house's resident robotic maid `Clarissa' has been programmed to perform...rather Unique duties. Her loathing for her husband is redoubled, and this may have consequences for Clarissa's new domestic chores...

`Hannah', by Keith Brooke, provides a gaslight-inspired mix of murder mystery and horror. At the scene of a murder, a scientist embarks on a nascent Victorian version of C.S.I. by conducting forensic examinations on traces of blood and tissue. Will his findings bring him closer to the identity of the murderer, or will they tell him more than he wants to know about the identity of the victim ?
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Duvernois VINE VOICE on January 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Highlights here are Lucius Shepard (always good, though my favorite of his remains Life During Wartime), Michael Moorcock (so much of his writing has at least the feel of steampunk to it), and Paul Di Filippo (who I wasn't as familiar with) contributions. Quite a good book of science fiction with the theme of steampunk very broadly construed.

I mean, it's easy for the steampunk label to become simply goggles, brass lamps, a zeppelin in the background, and Edwardian lingerie. And maybe that's what folks are looking for, but the best of science fiction truly merits the title speculative fiction. Not all of the pieces are excellent, but that's also par for a themed collection. You get a feel for the writing of a batch of authors and can pursue their individual works if you're interested.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Mann TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 12, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The stories in this book are not your "steam-enshrouded goths in ridiculous clothes mounted on unlikely machines with outlandish names" fayre, as can be found infesting the Amazon Kindle store.

Personally, I wouldn't have labelled some of them "Steampunk" at all on first look as they were so subtly executed that the Steampunk elements were unobtrusive, while others featured bog-standard outrageous Steampunk tropes tangled in stories of exquisite cleverness.

Yes, folks, the Steampunk trappings aren't the point in most of these, rather what the Steampunk trappings mean to the people living with them (with the possible exception of one story in which the point-of-view character *is* what would usually be a Steampunk trapping).

I am, however, a life-long SF short story consuming reader of some fiftymumble years and I found a number of the offerings between these covers startling or refreshing, and all of them were entertaining.

Did I need to suspend my disbelief just a bit more precariously than I care to usually? Yes, very much so in one case. Was it worth the trouble? Always.

All the stories are excellent, and make me wish I was back in my native England so I could easily find these fine authors on bookshop shelves. I can't recommend them highly enough.

Buy and read this book if you can find a copy.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on February 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
First, it appears that there are different editions of this book. I have a mass market paperback edition, picked up used online, that does not contain a few selections that are mentioned in the product description and by the previous reviewers. Mine is possibly a Canadian edition, but it's similar enough to what is described elsewhere. In any case, buyer beware. At least I can review the portion of the overall collection that I did receive.

The previous reviewers are correct in that steampunk is rather difficult to define, and editor Nick Gevers has selected some stories that blur that vague definition, so hyping this book as the "definitive anthology" (as stated on the cover) is a bit of a stretch. The stories here are all new by a variety of well-established writers, with some already accomplished in steampunk but others probably experimenting with the form for the first time. A couple of writers who are not known for steampunk, James Morrow and Robert Reed, unleash some highly creative tales. But on the other hand, Kage Baker contributes what is actually a time travel story with some steampunk elements tacked on, and Marly Youmans's interminably talky contribution fails to build believable steampunk imagery. Fortunately, this anthology does have some very rewarding contributions from James Lovegrove and Adam Roberts, who really deliver on the best of what steampunk has to offer. But overall, the anthology's selections tend toward the dry and talky in ways that might turn off the fans of SF and cyberpunk who should naturally flock to steampunk. It's a fascinating sub-genre that is ably introduced here but not definitively anthologized. [~doomsdayer520~]
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