Monday, February 28, 2011

Boneshaker VS Leviathan

I've been reading more lately. I do that when stressed or when my back goes out. In all of this I have read some books that have been on my list for a long time. Boneshaker was a Christmas present and D. brought home Leviathan as a surprise. It is fascinating how books within the same genre can be so different.  They are both officially steampunk. If you don't know what that is, here is a 15 minute podcast explaining it. If you don't have that much time, think Jules Verne, written now. Jules Verne doesn't officially count as steampunk because instead of writing about the past he was writing his future. Aside from the definition it is a fun genre.

Boneshaker is set in Seattle, about 1870. The summary is here, so I don't have to repeat it. The thing that really struck me was how feminine of a book it was.  Feminine is not exactly the word I want though. I was not a book I would imagine a man writing. Though the setting was cool and the zeppelins and poison gas destroying downtown Seattle and all the other things that went along with the steampunkness of the book were interesting, they were just sideshows to the main character. They were incidental to the plot rather than driving the plot. How the main character relates to the men in her life is the central motivating force as opposed to the mechanical doohickeys in the setting. Not that the mechanical doohickeys aren't cool, or detract from the story, it is just they are used differently than in many other novels of this type.

Leviathan is set a little later, in 1914. It follows the course of an alternate WWI. Full summary found here. It also has a female protagonist but it is not the intimate, personal novel that Boneshaker is. Since the female lead has to disguise herself to get into the army the femaleness is muted. The technology is much more important and drives the plot much more. There is more action though less zombies. It does describe a war, so you would expect the plot to be less character driven and more action-y. Though none of this is a criticism, it is just different. It is a fantastic read, one that appealed more to my oldest boy and my husband. The art is amazing. You should find this book at your local bookstore just to see the map on the end pages.

Steampunk is a fun genre and I am looking forward to reading the next books in each series.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gizmos and Gadgets

Looking at my bedside table I realized I had four different pieces of electronics that did not exist a few years ago, at least in their current forms. Two cell phones, because we just switched providers and had to get new ones, a kindle (my dear hubby got it from work for Christmas and gave it to me) and a wi-fi/bluetooth enabled MP3 player. So there, in less than 2 lbs of electronics I have the means to listen to a month's worth of music, read probably a month's worth of books, and talk to anyone anywhere in the world. And I could do all of this laying in bed in my pajamas. Isn't that crazy.
I love watching old movies where the characters act so cool to have a brick of a cell phone. And ipods just showed up, you don't even see the progression like you can with cell phones. Remember a long time ago when having a CAR phone was amazing?
What is even more amazing than the little techie wonders we all own is how much we take them for granted. A library full of books in a little grey tablet and everyone just complains about what isn't available. Cell phones can do more than computers could when I was a kid, yet once the novelty has worn out we want the next version.
I have had the new Kindle since Christmas and found myself reading all the blog posts I didn't have time to read on the computer, but now that I have caught up, it is almost boring. I like the sensation of having a cover, and the heft of a real book. Though I can carry my scriptures with a lot less weight and Nathan can't grab it as easily I think I am still an analog book devotee.
I don't think I would give back my MP3 player though. Having all the songs I like in such a small package is wonderufl. Of all my electronic gizzies I think this is the one I would have the hardest time giving up.
I just would like to thank all the nice computer and electronic inventors that have made my life much easier and full of music, information and text messages.