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A Steampunk novel by Cherie Priest.

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Steampunk zombies in old Seattle - mostly satisfying, if a bit overwritten, story of a boy in search of a past worth remembering

  • Dec 6, 2009
Back in the Civil War era in Seattle, before Washington was even a state, ambitious inventor Leviticus Blue created a massive tunneling engine, intended to unearth gold buried beneath the Alaskan ice. Only problem is when he first used it he undermined several city blocks and unleashed a stream of viscous, zombifying gas that eventually turned the whole of the central city into a walled-in wasteland. It also turned the young wife of the inventor, Briar Wilkes, into a pariah among hopeless people, and later led her son to undertake a dangerous quest behind the walls in search of something that would vindicate his father.

"Boneshaker" was the name of the machine, and the story is an engaging and intriguing read, a hybrid of zombie thriller and steampunk science fiction in an alternate America. The story is well plotted, and the author creates an interesting inner city where the outlaw inhabitants have to eke out a living despite stinking air, a nefarious evil genius and his minions, and, worst of all, the rotters, the flesh-eating animated remains of the former inhabitants. It's a bit overwritten, both in the sense that it could have been pared down and digresses too much, and in the sense that it overdoes descriptions, saying more when less would do, and making it difficult to get a clear sense of pace. Still, it's an overall entertaining read, and the combination of steampunk machinery and zombies in old America is a natural. Worth checking out for lovers of science fiction, alternate history, and zombie fiction.

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review by . November 10, 2009
I guess this was my first experience with the steampunk genre (not realizing it was a separate genre until I wikipedia'd), and it was a nice ride. Basically steampunk brings Jules Verne to the future he helped envision and turns him around to report on the past he might have lived--if that past included zombies, toxic chemicals, airships (in 1880) and the Civil War (yes, also in 1880--Stonewall Jackson survived and kept the South in the war a long, long time).    The Boneshaker …
review by . December 10, 2010
   Two years ago, I had never heard of Steampunk (and if pressed, I would have guessed it had something to do with music).  Three months ago, I’d heard of it, and I could even name a few books in the genre, but I still had no idea what it actually was.  Two weeks ago, I read Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker and got thoroughly schooled in the matter. (NB for the uninitiated: Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction/speculative fiction that is set in an era or world …
Quick Tip by . February 19, 2011
posted in SF Signal
A quick, fun read. I enjoy steampunk, but not being a zombie story fan, I liked Boneshaker a lot more than I thought I would. I'm trying to decide whether this would make a good gateway novel for certain friends.
review by . February 11, 2010
Guilty pleasures -- we all have them. Once in a blue moon I crave Kraft macaroni and cheese out of a box, or a huge heaping pile of homemade mashed potatoes with chicken gravy made from fried chicken.  Or a Marie Callender's pot pie, even though they're like 600 calories and almost as many grams of fat. Well, I have them in books, too, and my favorite guilty pleasures are steampunk and pulp.  I just finished Boneshaker and it is the equivalent of hot comfort food between two covers.   …
About the reviewer
Nathan Andersen ()
Ranked #68
I teach philosophy at Eckerd College, in Saint Petersburg, Florida.      I run an award-winning International Cinema series in Tampa Bay (www.eckerd.edu/ic), and am co-director of … more
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Starred Review. Maternal love faces formidable challenges in this stellar steampunk tale. In an alternate 1880s America, mad inventor Leviticus Blue is blamed for destroying Civil War–era Seattle. When Zeke Wilkes, Blue's son, goes into the walled wreck of a city to clear his father's name, Zeke's mother, Briar Wilkes, follows him in an airship, determined to rescue her son from the toxic gas that turns people into zombies (called rotters and described in gut-churning detail). When Briar learns that Seattle still has a mad inventor, Dr. Minnericht, who eerily resembles her dead husband, a simple rescue quickly turns into a thrilling race to save Zeke from the man who may be his father. Intelligent, exceptionally well written and showcasing a phenomenal strong female protagonist who embodies the complexities inherent in motherhood, this yarn is a must-read for the discerning steampunk fan.(Oct.)
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ISBN-10: 0765318415
ISBN-13: 978-0765318411
Author: Cherie Priest
Publisher: Tor Books

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