Tag Archives: “post-apocalyptic”

ROSE EAGLE Cover Reveal

Last year, I reviewed Joseph Bruchac’s pulse-racing KILLER OF ENEMIES. There is more to this post-apoc steampunk world in the prequel ROSE EAGLE, coming from Tu Books as an original e-novella. In the Black Hills of South Dakota, we are introduced to seventeen-year-old Rose Eagle of the Lakota tribe who is trying to find her place in a world in turmoil after a mysterious Cloud has destroyed all electronic technology.

Before the Silver Cloud, the Lakota were forced to work in the Deeps, mining for ore so that the Ones, the overlords, could continue their wars. But when the Cloud came and enveloped Earth, all electronics were shut off. Some miners were trapped in the deepest Deeps and suffocated, but the Lakota were warned to escape, and the upper Deeps became a place of refuge for them in a post-Cloud world.

In the midst of this chaos, Rose Eagle’s aunt has a dream: Rose will become a medicine woman, a healer. She sends Rose into the Black Hills on a quest to find healing for their people.

Gangly and soft-spoken, Rose is no warrior. She seeks medicine, not danger. Nevertheless, danger finds her, but love and healing soon follow. When Rose Eagle completes her quest, she may return with more than she ever thought she was looking for.

Check out the cover after the jump.

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#53 Caribbean Steampunk on a Distant World: A Review of Tobias Buckell’s CRYSTAL RAIN

In the wake of the Steampunk Kurfluffle that started with Charles Stross’ complaint against steampunk, Tobias Buckell wrote an interesting response about fantasy’s tendency to romanticize the past and mentioned his own work:

But ultimately, I share Stross’s discomfort, which is why my steampunk plays have often been about adopting the style and nodding to the history. Crystal Rain, what I called a Caribbean steampunk novel, is about Caribbean peoples and the reconstituted Mexica (Azteca in the book) of old with a Victorian level of technology, using the clothing/symbols of steampunk, but making their artificiers black.

Sadly, Crystal Rain, written in 2006, seems to have come out just before all the hotness, as it rarely gets mentioned as a steampunk novel whenever these celebrations happen.

So, now that my curiosity was piqued, I had to go out and get the book to see for myself how he handles steampunk before “the hotness.”

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#44 Magic in Post-Apocalyptic Africa: WHO FEARS DEATH Interview with Author Nnedi Okorafor

When my comrade-in-arms Jha Goh attended Wiscon this year, she asked me if I wanted anything. I only asked for two books, one of them being Nnedi Okorafor’s WHO FEARS DEATH. This isn’t a steampunk book, but I had read a bit about the setting: one with magic in a world where technology had crumbled and a vicious empire seeks to wipe out other tribes through genocide. Rebuilt societies + imperialist themes + magic = a book worth checking out. A couple of weeks later, I eagerly opened the package in the mail and read the following inscription: “I hope this novel takes you there and back again.”

“There” is post-apocalyptic Africa, in a land known as the Seven Rivers Kingdom, a land plagued by war and genocide. My guide is the strong and determined Onyesonwu, a young woman whose name translates to the title of this book. Her story, told in simple but engaging language, is her journey. Though she is hated because she is an Ewu–born from the rape of her Okeke mother by someone from the conquering Nuru tribe– Onyesonwu’s life changes drastically when she develops the ability to change into animals and even raise the dead.  Now, Onyesonwu must grapple against prejudice aimed at her because of her birth and her gender in order to master her magical abilities. But time is running short, because the Nuru armies are approaching her homeland–and a powerful magician is out to kill her.

Alongside magic powers and spirits, WHO FEARS DEATH deals with very tough, very real issues: weaponized rape, child soldiers, female genital mutilation. These topics are not sensationalized, but integrated into the harsh reality of the world of the Seven Rivers Kingdom. Nnedi also doesn’t shy away from portraying the messed-up perceptions characters have concerning these subjects too, like the poor treatment of Okeke rape survivors, who are shunned because they are “ruined.” Nnedi handles each subject upfront; the more violent scenes were not gratuitous and didn’t make me feel uncomfortable reading it, though I’ll give this book a trigger warning.

Yet Onyesonwu’s tale is much more than the harshness of her world. It’s also very much a story about women finding strength in themselves and in their friendships. It’s about sex used in all its forms: as part of violent oppression, intrinsic desire, and personal liberation. It’s about the mysterious spirit world where demons called masquerades walk the land and dragons fly in the air and tribes can manipulate sand storms (reminding me of the sand benders from Avatar: The Last Airbender). It’s also very much a coming-of-age story as Onyesonwu seeks to affirm her personal and magical identity. And the core strength of the book lies in its ability to take readers to places that are at turns dark, mythical, brutal and wondrous.

After finishing this book, I talked with Nnedi about her career and the challenges she’s faced when writing WHO FEARS DEATH.

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#16: Post-Apocalyptic Math Musical! The Hidden Sky

Steampunk’s “era that never was” is often placed during an enlightened mechanical age of the past, when technological innovations mix with historical mores. In a romantic sense, technology is humankind’s hope for a better world; nostalgic steampunk celebrates the sense of wonder and accomplishment people feel in the presence of functionality. But steampunk, though commonly placed in optimistic contexts, can take a darker turn. The genre, after all, is cousin to cyberpunk, that over-engineered world where technology has escaped the understanding of the common man. The darker consequences of steampunk technology is rooted in the imperfections of steam: environmental pollution from burning fossil fuels, the intense human labor (and lost lives) involved in dangerous factory work, global arms races as nations compete to develop their tech. Post-apocalyptic steam combines the hope and the tragedy of progress: society struggling to build itself again in a ruinous world, often after some technological disaster. The City of Ember books, the Unhallowed Metropolis RPG, and the videogame Bioshock are all examples that fall under post-apocalyptic steam.

Post-apocalyptic steampunk exposes the raw conflicts inherent in creating technology. Once everything we knew has been lost, can we ever regain that same world again? We need technology to survive, but how can we not commit the same mistakes that caused our downfall?

Musician and composer Peter Foley asks these questions in his chamber musical The Hidden Sky.

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