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Steampunk Classics – Boneshaker

Cherie Priest’s 2009 book Boneshaker is an exciting alternate history tale that takes place in nineteenth-century Seattle. In this timeline, the war between the Union and Confederacy continues into the 1880’s. The Pacific Northwest has remained a backwater, and Seattle itself suffered a peculiar cataclysm. Inventor Leviticus Blue creates an “Incredible Bone-shaking Drill Engine,” which he intends to drill through ice to facilitate mining in Alaska. In a test of his machine, Blue destroys several blocks of the city and releases a mysterious gas which turns people into “rotters.” or flesh-eating zombies. The citizens erect a wall around the affected parts of the city. The protagonist is Blue’s son Zeke, who enters the zombie area to search for his father, who went missing after the accident several years before. There he gets help from a number of eccentric characters who live there, making several narrow escapes from the rotters. Now Zeke is not only searching for his father, but fighting to survive. It’s an exciting work throughout, another great choice for fans of steampunk. In particular, I appreciate how the “rotters” are given a scientific explanation rather than resorting to the supernatural. Boneshaker won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2010. It is part of Priest’s “Clockwork Century Series” and is followed by the sequel Clementine.


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  1. Very interesting read. Is there a book or movie that you would like us to review? Tell us in the comments.

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