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Karen Ostertag's blog

The World Will Be Saved by Steam! (Steampunk, That Is)

Symphony in mahogany, brass and polished steelLast month I surveyed predictive fiction from the past.  This month, we're turning that concept upside-down with a look at contemporary SF set in a past that never quite was: the genre-bending category known as "steampunk."  Steampunk (the word is modelled after "cyberpunk") got its start in the 1980s, but its roots lie firmly in the Victorian era, harkening back to the scientific fiction and world-spanning adventure novels of the likes of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and H. Rider Haggard (of Allan Quatermain fame). 

WEDDING JITTERS

I know what you're thinking: June is the classic month for weddings.  Why am I writing about them in July?

Well, marriages don't always go quite as scheduled.  The bride turns out to have been married before... and never quite got around to the divorce.  The groom gets cold feet and breaks it off at the last moment (by text message.  At the altar.).  A well-meaning mobster sends a far-too-sexy hit man to keep a protective eye on the bride.  The fiance fakes his own death to get out of marrying a bridezilla.  One's betrothed pretends to elope with a completely fictional lover the day after the engagement.  

Alright, perhaps these aren't the usual  reasons a wedding doesn't come off as planned, but they make for some very entertaining beach reads.  Be warned: for the would-be brides (and grooms) in these romances, there may not be a happily-ever-after in the offing... at least, not with the mates they expected!

New Romance Fiction for July 2010

In paperback:

Close Contact by Katherine Allred (2, Alien Affairs) SF
Close Encounters by Katherine Allred (1, Alien Affairs) SF
The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne H, M
Stroke of Genius by Emily Bryan H
Assassin's Honor by Monica Burns (1, Order of the Sicari) C, S, M
A Gentleman Always Remembers by Candace Camp (2, Willowmere) H
My Reckless Surrender by Anna Campbell H
Strange Neighbors by Ashlyn Chase C, S
Mystery Lover by Lisa Childs (Harlequin Intrigue: Shivers) C, M
Shut Up and Kiss Me by Christie Craig C, M, W
Tall, Dark and Wolfish by Lydia Dare (2, Regency Wolves) H, S

New Speculative Fiction for July 2010

New to our shelves:

Darkling Fields of Arvon by James G. Anderson and Mark Sebanc (2, Legacy of the Stone Harp) F
Insatiable by Meg Cabot H, R
The Best Horror of the Year by Ellen Datlow, ed. (2, Best Horror of the Year) H
Speak to the Devil by Dave Duncan (1, The Brothers Magnus) F
Principles of Angels by Janie Fenn SF, F, M, R
Threshold by Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor SF
Stealing Fire by Jo Graham (3, Numinous World) F
From Hell with Love by Simon R.Green (4, Secret Histories) F, H
Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton (19, Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter) H, F, R
Shakespeare Undead by Lori Handeland H

FUTURE PERFECT: A LOOK AT PREDICTIVE FICTION FROM THE PAST

Paris in the Twentieth Century sounds like an historical travelogue, doesn't it?  But consider when it was written: Jules Verne wrote his "scientific fiction" novel in 1863, setting it a hundred years into his future.  At the time, his publisher considered Verne's descriptions of complex underground railway systems, rampant commercialism, and electronic calculators too implausible.  The manuscript lived in a safe until his great-grandson had it published in 1996.  As a story, it's not one of Verne's better works, but it holds its own as a marvel of prophetic fiction.  The book also serves as a brilliant example of what science fiction is : unlike fantasy, which is the stuff of dreams, science fiction is all about possibilities

WHERE THE DEER AND THE ANTELOPE PLAY: HISTORICAL WESTERN ROMANCE

It's summer!  Are you ready?  (Me neither.)  But the 4th of July is nearly upon us, and luckily, the romance collection stands ready to get us into a patriotic mood.  This month, I thought we'd return to our survey of historical romances with a look at the American Old West.  After all, what says "independence" better than a cowboy? 

The period of westward expansion during latter 19th and early 20th centuries has captured the romantic imagination more than any other period in American history.  It's not surprising; from a Romance perspective, the West has got it all: tall tales, rugged men, and strong women.  Majestic mountains, sweeping vistas, and skies glittering with stars.  The promise of riches, cultures in conflict, and men in black hats.  The pioneer spirit, taming a wild land with nothing but human strength and wits.  Civilization overcoming lawlessness.  The shining promise of the Industrial Age. 

So... are you ready for a taste of independence?  Saddle up, ladies, we're headed for the frontier!  HYAH!

New Speculative Fiction for June 2010

New to our shelves:

Ark by Stephen Baxter (2, Flood) SF, A
Bone and Jewel Creatures by Elizabeth Bear F, H
Brains: A Zombie Memoir by Robin Becker H
A Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451 Stories by Ray Bradbury SF
Play Dead by Ryan Brown H
Deceiver by C. J. Cherryh (2, Foreigner 4) SF
Neverland by Douglas Clegg H
One Bloody Thing after Another by Joey Comeau H
The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas (1, The Memory of Flames) F
Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth (1, The President’s Vampire) H, M
Allies by Christie Golden (5, Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi) SF

New Romance Fiction for June 2010

In paperback:

Dark Angel / Lord Carew’s Bride by Mary Balogh (1-2, Dark Angel) H
Seducing an Angel by Mary Balogh (4, Huxtable quintet) H
A Secret Affair by Mary Balogh (5, Huxtable quintet) H
Meltdown by Gail Barrett (Silhouette Romantic Suspense) C, M
The Notorious Scoundrel by Alexandra Benedict (2, The Hawkins Brothers) H
Running Scared by Shannon K. Butcher (3, Sentinel Wars) C, S
In Pursuit of a Scandalous Lady by Gayle Callen (1, Scandalous Lady) H
Out of Sight by Stella Cameron (3, Court of Angels) C, S, M
A Lady Never Tells by Candace Camp (1, Willowmere) H

SUMMER BUZZ: OR, WHAT I REALLY WANT TO READ THIS SUMMER

I've just gotten back from Book Expo America 2010, the book industry's professional trade show, and I'm really excited about the great speculative fiction coming our way this year!  Rather than the usual themed list this month, I thought I'd bring home some of the BEA buzz by talking about the forthcoming titles I'm most eager to read.  Some definite themes appeared as I surveyed this summer's offerings: unlikely saviors, alternate histories, adventure, steam- or clockworkpunk (with or without magic), creatively rewritten classics, and yes, even more zombies.  There are several standout new voices, some surprise returns of old masters, and a few truly monumental short story anthologies.  I don't have room to cover everything I'd like to here, so I'm going to hit the biggest titles for each month and then give you a shortlist to follow up on, if you're so minded.

New Book Group! In Other Worlds...

New City Library is starting a new book discussion group this summer!  It's called "In Other Worlds," and its focus is on speculative fiction.  Librarians Karen Ostertag and Veronica Reynolds will lead discussions on works from the realms of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and everything in between.  The group will meet every third Wednesday of the month at 7 PM.

We're starting off easy with the first offering-- a short story by Isaac Asimov entitled "All the Troubles of the World."  There are copies available now at the adult reference desk.  In July, we're featuring China Miéville's Perdido Street Station, and the August selection will be American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.

We hope you'll join us for light refreshments and discussion.  (Come to the Dark Side-- we have cookies!)

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