I decided to read the new novel by Katie MacAlister called Steamed: A Steampunk Romance. I was walking in Barnes and Noble and saw it on one of the tables and thought it might be interesting. I don't normally read romance novels, but I read a review later that said that it's a bit of an introductory into Steampunk because it's not as hardcore, dark, or gritty as some of the conventional Steampunk novels. I figured if I like the action and the story then I might want to read more into Steampunk fiction.

I like the title, it's a bit catchy. Anyway, the story revolves around Dr. Jack Fletcher, who's a nanoelectrical systems engineer and Steampunk fan. His sister Hallie is eventually spirited away to a parallel universe in a lab accident and they end up on an airship called Tesla, which is run by Captain Octavia Pye. The year is still 2010, but it's a different world than they (and we) know. Of course the romance is around Jack and Octavia, which is the central focus of the story and right behind that is the action and all of the steampunkery.

I pretty much enjoyed the novel, although I'm not much of a romance-reader. Just not one of those girls I guess. But it was a good way to dip my toes into the Steampunk pool I guess, and there were a few places in the book that I found pretty funny. I think I'd like to read one of the conventional Steampunk novels after reading Steamed. I may need to have my own Steampunkapalooza! I looked up some of the common themes in this sub-genre of Sci-Fi, and found that hot air balloons and zeppelins are often used, along with such things as body art, chemistry, flying or things in the sky, space, robots, battle, and the setting is usually in an alternate or parallel universe.


Last night I decided to start reading Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, and so far I'm really enjoying it. I didn't get a chance to finish reading Snow Crash this week, but I may end up finishing the book for next class. I've come to realize that cyberpunk is a little bit more of my cup of tea, mostly because I'm such a technology-obsessed person. I love the idea of artificial intelligence, hackers, virtual reality, and distopian worlds. When reading the novel, I kept thinking of all the similarities between it and films like Blade Runner and the Matrix, which I can tell have a cyberpunk style to them.

I did a little research on cyberpunk and found that the protagonists are often computer hackers with a sort of Robin Hood syndrome. The main character in Stephenson's book is the same; Hiro is a hacker who was one of the original developers of the "Metaverse." It's the virtual world where everyone has their own avatar in the Metaverse that they control, which is kinda similar to Half-Life? (I think that's what it's called). Or similar to like the movie Gamer only it's not real people.

Okay, I seriously thought that the dentata, the anti-rape device that Y.T. wears, is pretty funny. The whole idea of it made me think of the movie Teeth where the girl has teeth in her vagina. I think it's actually called vagina dentata. I'm sort of glad that the author didn't go into details about how it works, or at least I haven't gotten to that part yet if he does.

I feel like there's a deep philosophical meaning behind why this genre is so popular, and I think it says a lot about our culture. A deep theme in the book seems to be "language as codes." Yes, we are technology-crazed people now with new, better devices being made each year and the internet always expanding. The book was written in 1992, which was around the time that the World Wide Web became open to the public. The Central Intelligence Corporation (CIC) in Snow Crash ends up developing a software called "Earth," which I think is very similar to Google Earth today. I'm wondering if it was somehow the inspiration for Google Earth.