starlady: A typewriter.  (tool of the trade)
To take the last item first, I've more or less reconciled myself to the fact that this is the year I read just about every Diane Duane novel I care to, which is why I got the second book in the Feline Wizardry sequence, To Visit the Queen, from ILL and finished reading it today.

Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been? )

Yeah. I wish I'd read this book before I'd written all those papers on Duane in college: this is the essence of what I love about her writing.

The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt is in all respects a far shallower but far more superficially thrilling book than To Visit the Queen; what connects them for the purposes of this post is that both traffic in steampunk, Hunt far more deeply and sustained than Duane. Essentially, in a very, very alternate sort of England (in which a very, very alternate Aztec Empire once ruled the subterrannean depths of the Continent and terrorized those realms on the surface in the last ice age), two orphans, Molly Templar and Oliver Brooks, are each pursued by people out to murder them and must go on the run from the law far beyond their kens of the capital Middlesteel and the Birmingham-analogue Hundred Locks.

I enjoyed this book, though Hunt generally sacrifices characterization to pacing and development to wit. There are enough ideas in here for two or three novels, and in some ways I was disappointed by the rather slapdash adaptation of historical phenomena such as communism and the French Revolution into Hunt's world, but it's all immensely entertaining, and for sheer cheerful mayhem, and his willingness to bring about apocalpyse now in his book, Hunt need bow to no one. The Court of the Air is sadly perhaps the worst copy-edited book I've read in years, which set up another barrier to unalloyed enjoyment, but there's enough redeeming features in here--particularly the mechanical lifeforms called steammen, and their Steamman Free State, and their King Steam, who is something like a Tibetan Lama (indeed, it doesn't seem an accident that the steammen dwell high in a mountain kingdom)--that I will be seeking out the next book set in this world, The Kingdom Beyond the Waves, which debuts today and follows Amelia Harsh, a female Indiana Jones, who for all her brilliance and daring just can't seem to get tenure. One sympathizes.
 

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August 2017

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