Beasts of Tabat by Cat Rambo

Beasts of Tabat is not a simple tale of good versus evil. This is a tale of shades of grey—of multiple perspectives—of overlapping areas of right and wrong. Cat Rambo has created a society where you cannot characterize anyone simply based on whether they are human, shifter, beast, or something else entirely. You have to judge the characters by their actions and motivations. It is easy to sympathize with some of the morally ambiguous characters in one chapter, only to be repulsed by their actions in the next.

Traveling the Pale Highway with Nicholas Conley

    Pale Highway, by Nicholas Conley, is a science fiction novel with touches of mystery, horror, and fantasy. The main character, Gabriel Schist, is a Nobel Prize winning scientist who in his youth invented the cure for AIDS. Now in his seventies, he has Alzheimer’s disease and is living in a nursing home. When […]

Neil Gaiman’s Tribute to Lovecraft & Sherlock Holmes

I think a bit of serendipity occurred when I found this work via BookBub.
I had just reread and reviewed Roger Zelazny’s take on mixing the world of Lovecraft and Conan Doyle. Now I had the opportunity to read “A Study In Emerald,” by Neil Gaiman, and see how another master storyteller approaches the same set of characters and intermixes the two very diverse story worlds.

In the preface to the collection, Gaiman (2006) explains that he found this to be a unique challenge because the two styles are very much polar opposites. The character of Sherlock Holmes is logical, scientific, and rational. The focus is on solving mysteries and presenting celebrated solutions. Lovecraft’s works proceed on a different basis. Many of his creations were deeply illogical and maintaining the mysteries helped keep humanity sane. “If I was going to tell a story that combined both elements,” Gaiman (2006, pp. 4-5) writes, “There had to be an interesting way to do it that played fair with both Lovecraft and with the creations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”

Mechanica: A Steampunk Cinderella Tale

Mechanica, by Betsy Cornwell, is a young adult steampunk retelling of the Cinderella tale. Mechanica, like other modern fairy tale adaptations (Wicked, Maleficent, Frozen) present a strong female character in Nicolette, who is derisively named “Mechanica” by her stepsisters. Like other versions of the Cinderella tale, the mother dies, the father remarries, and then he dies and Nicolette is left in the hands of her stepmother. The “steps” treat her as a servant and abuse her until she is able to escape and live the life she dreamed about through her long years of misery. There are several innovations in this narrative, including the addition of steampunk creations, that make this a vivid and memorable tale.

Unique Convention and Festival Accommodations

As springtime blooms in North America, conventions and festivals (especially outdoor festivals) start to appear in the calendar. Travel is certainly a consideration when planning what events to attend, as is finding a place to stay when you arrive. Many attendees plan to stay at the hotel associated with the convention centers, but there are more whimsical (and less expensive choices) available if one takes the initiative to search. One such inexpensive accommodation is available in downtown Chicago: Vincent Van Gogh’s Bedroom.

A Revolution in Printing: How A Steam-Powered Press Changed the World

When discussing steam-powered machines and the Victorian Era, many focus on the revolutionary additions made to travel. Steam-powered locomotives or ships are considered groundbreaking innovations that helped to shape the course of our world. Yet another steam-powered ingenious device created during the reign of Queen Victoria had what some would consider an even larger impact on the world: A steam-powered printing press revolutionized the print industry and improved the literacy rate throughout the western hemisphere.

Red Shirts: A Wonderful Romp Through a Metafiction Universe

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, by John Scalzi*, focuses on new crew members aboard the Universal Union flagship Intrepid who begin to notice alarming patterns that determine how long they will survive. The story follows Ensign Andrew Dahl, newly assigned junior scientist, and his friends. They slowly come to realize that there is a […]

Steampunk Sculptors Creating Art Through Recycling

Using recycled materials in art is not a new concept, but steampunk sculptors seem to be discovering innovative means of harnessing the abundant source of raw materials provided by the current culture’s disposable lifestyle. As steampunk sculptor Aaron Ristau explains, “products are obsolete within an ever decreasing amount of time, putting an increasing strain on our ability to deal with man-made waste” (qtd. in Von Slatt, 2009). The range of art being created is a testament to the creativity of artists who make use of “stuff” that had had a life already—a life that is often far removed from art.

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