Mission Update: April 2010

April is to the post-secondary educator what tax season is to the accountant, and not simply for the coincidence of timing. This is the time of year when those of us who teach are buried under a stack of grading: final papers, projects, and of course, exams. So there isn't a whole hell of a lot to report for this month.

I'm currently working my ass off on a chapter for an upcoming academic anthology on fairy tale and fantasy. My chapter is obviously on steampunk, and is titled, Steampunk: Technofantasies in a Neo-Victorian Retrofuture. I also wrote a paragraph on The Windup Girl for Chris Garcia's fanzine The Drink Tank, issue 247 (it's on page 20). 

Something I forgot to mention last month: Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett did a great video-conference session with my English 103 class at Grant MacEwan about Boilerplate. We're hoping to repeat this in the fall, with my English 102 classes. Speaking of classes, just a heads up for anyone who lives in Edmonton, I'll be teaching Comparative Literature 342, Science Fiction at the University of Alberta in the fall: Mondays, 6-9. There are currently still half the seats left in the class!

I've decided to try giving each month a thematic focus, starting in July with "Canuck Steampunk," a whole month devoted to Canadian Steampunk, with posts about Kenneth Oppel's Airborn, Skybreaker, and Starclimber;  S.M. Peters' Whitechapel Gods; Scarlet Riders:Pulp Fiction Tales of the Mounties, edited by Don Hutchinson; Karin Lowachee's Gaslight Dogs; and The Apparition Trail by Lisa Smedman. It's amazing to me that I've been posting for over a year and I still have so many books to get through--and with the current popularity of steampunk, the list growing every month!

As proof, here are more additions to the primary reading list:

Baker, Kage. Not Less Than Gods. Burton: Subterranean Press, 2010. 

Carriger, Gail: Changeless:The Parasol Protectorate: Book the Second. New York, Orbit Books, 2010.

Dahlquist, Gordon. The Dark Volume. New York: Bantam, 2009.

Lowachee, Karin. The Gaslight Dogs. New York, Orbit, 2010.

MacAlister, Katie. Steamed: A Steampunk Romance. New York: Signet, 2010.

Smedman, Lisa. The Apparition Trail. Calgary: Tesseract Books, 2007.

Zoem, Dazjae. Wonderdark: The Awakening of Zuza. Self-published, 2009.

I'm still struggling through the same books I was reading last month as well as having started Ian MacLeod's The Light Ages (an incredible read so far - a third of the way through), a testament to how busy April has been. Thank God for audiobooks and my commute, or I wouldn't get any reading done at this time of year! Speaking of audiobooks, I thought I'd link up to the audible.com site with the following releases, now also added to the audiobook list:

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest: I'm going to give this book a second run by audiobook, because Kate Reading, one of my favorite narrators is reading the parts from Briar's point-of-view, and Wil Wheaton reads Ezekiel's parts. Sometimes books are just meant to be read out loud (Gail Carriger's Soulless being an excellent example). In addition, given the number of awards this book has gone up for this year (Nebula, Locus), I'm thinking I need to pay closer attention in my second read, to see if I missed something the first time around.

The Affinity Bridge by George Mann: It hasn't received glowing reviews yet, but I'm still glad that there's an audio version of this popular steampunk read, as the more I can consume via audio, the better. Having discovered there are zombies involved, I think it's funny that Tor's two big steampunk releases have been steampunk-zombie stories. Or maybe they're just undead. We'll see!

The Dream of Perpetual Motion: A steampunk novel-of-ideas with Shakespeare's Tempest as its foundation! It's an incredible piece of postmodern fiction, and if you can stomach William Dufris' adenoidal narration, I highly recommend it. Dufris nearly ruined my listening of Mainspring, until I adjusted my brain to get over how much I dislike his voice. In some ways, he does suit the voice of the narrator, but there's only so much nasal whining I can take.

Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel: The same full-cast approach as the first two books, so unless Oppel trips at the finish line with book three of this series, it's bound to be great!

A quick shout out: Thanks to Christian Matzke for sending me his copy of Katie MacAlister's Steamed. This guy is one of the nicest and most engaging people of Steampunk Empire - he's everywhere on the forums!

Speaking of forums - the Great Steampunk Debate is about to begin! I'm one of the moderators for this conversation, so if you're interested in lively but still civil debate, head over to the forum and sign up!


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