dimanche 19 juillet 2009

Paul Di Filippo: The Steampunk Trilogy

First there was cyberpunk, pioneered by the likes of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. Now comes steampunk, the twisted offspring of science fiction and post-modernism, a sassy, unpredictable tongue-in-cheek style of which the incomparable Paul Di Filippo is master.

Inside the wide realm of science fiction or out, there is nothing like the three short novels in The Steampunk Trilogy. Set in a very alternative 19th Century, they feature a mix of historical and imaginary figures. In Victoria, a young and lissome Queen Victoria disappears from her throne and is replaced by a sexy human/newt clone. The race is on to find the original Victoria and hide the terrible secret from the nation. In Hottentots, Massachussets is threatened by H.P. Lovecraft-style monsters from the deep and, of course, Hottentots; in Walt and Emily, Emily Dickinson hooks up with a robust and lusty Walt Whitman, loses her virginity, and travels to a dimension beyond time where she and her companions meet the future Allen Ginsberg.

With remarkable linguistic and historic precision, Di Filippo recreates a people and era fascinating to our late 20th Century sensibilities precisely because of their strict sets of social rules - and shatters the perfect picture with an outrageous premise.