Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

“Bear is paying homage to the dime novels of the era, forerunners of pulp fiction packed with larger-than-life heroes, scheming villains, and gritty action. But she’s subtly subverting this tradition, just as much as she’s giving steampunk a gentle, loving twist. An African-American marshal and a transgender prostitute are just two members of the book’s diverse cast, and it’s clear that Bear is making a point about the way history, like literary subgenres, can steamroll over anyone who falls outside the norm. She makes that point engagingly and effortlessly. Karen Memory breezes by at a leisurely pace, a bracing yet charming adventure yarn that never feels forced, despite the brassy confidence of its delivery.” — NPR.org