Tuesday, February 24, 2009

This morning I finished The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives by James Blaylock, a collection of stories and two novels.

I've been a big fan of Blaylock since I read The Last Coin, which is still my favourite modern fantasy novel. Most of his books are in the modern fantasy vein, but the stories in The Adventures are actually very early steampunk.

The first of the two novels included Homunculus, has always been very hard to find and been out of print for many years, which is a shame since it's the best of the stories. I had read the second novel, Lord Kelvin's Machine, before and hadn't liked it very much. It's not a direct sequel, but it does help to be familiar with the main characters before reading it. In addition to the scientist St. Ives, there is his butler Hasbro, the toymaker Keeble, their friend Jack Owlesby and their nemesis Ignacio Narbondo.

Overall, these are some of the best steampunk books I've read. Blaylock has a very active imagination and a deft turn with descriptions and semi-surreal action. He's also not afraid of having serious consequences to his characters of their actions.

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