Monday, September 20, 2010

Weird Histories.....

Over the last several months I have purchased or received a great number of novels that fall into a particular sweet spot for me.  Most of these would comfortably be called Steampunk which I happen to have liked for quite a while but I guess I really see them as Alternate Historical Fiction.  The First of these that I have read is Mark Hodder's presents Burton and Swineburne in the Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack  published by Pyr and soon to get a full and glowing review from me here. I will say that it is one of the best looking books on the shelves these days and renews my desire to support the continuance or print media.

The next book that I read in this particular area is one that snuck up on me and I am very happy to have noticed at Borderlands in San Francisco in early September. MK Hobson who is one of the editors and narrators at Podcastle is the writer of The Native Star, a weird western novel that I hope will get some notice.  The Weird West to me is a offshoot of the Steampunk movement that gets little attention and needs its due. I have loved the idea of mixing westerns with something a little different since the TV series Wild Wild West, the RPG Deadlands and Joe Landsdale's Jonah Hex.  I plan to get this review up on the heels of Spring Heeled Jack. Hobson has written a great Weird West Romance Adventure here.

     The third is the one I have been looking forward to for months and the one you will be seeing more then one post about; Mary Robinette Kowal's regency era novel Shades of Milk and Honey. The elevator pitch for the novel is ..."its the novel that Jane Austin would have written had magic existed". I think this is one of those novels that has deserved all the good blurbs and reviews that it has gotten. It is well researched and written and I cant wait to get further through it. Mary in addition read the version that is available as an audiobook and did her best to have era correct pronunciation.  Its a great thing to hear an author read their own work.

     I have also just started reading The Cardinal's Blades by Pierre Pevel.  This is a fantasy novel set in 17th century France from a well established award winning French author. I am a few chapters in and can tell I'm on for a good ride here. This novel has the feel of the Dumas Musketeers adventures with added scheming dragons and subtle magic.

     The last of this group is Mike Resnick's The Buntline Special.  Here we return again to the american west in 1881 with a mixture of native magic, weird technology, a great mixture of westen legendary figures some of which appear to be beyond dead. Seems we will be seeing Edison, the Clantons, the Earps, Geronimo  and the "thing" that once was Johnny Ringo. All this in the hands of Mike Resnick can't help but be a great romp. 

I had forgotten how much I enjoy historical fiction. I was a great fan of the Sharpe's novels of Bernard Cornwall, the naval books of CL Forrester and the alterante histories of Harry Turtledove and the "Soldier" books of Gene Wolfe.  There was also a trilogy of books about Josephine Bonaparte written by Sandra Gulland that was an excellent read.  You can look forward to reviews of the novels mentioned above and probably a combined post about the weird west since I have taken a like to that idea again.

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