Dec 15
2014

Booklist on Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

If contemporary Seattle is an apt setting for cyberpunk thrillers, it stands to reason that nineteenth-century Seattle should serve just as well for a steampunk adventure. Bear’s new novel follows the title character’s life as a bordello girl working along Puget Sound, from which steam-powered airships take gold prospectors up and down the western mountain ranges. But in the seedy dockside world of the Pacific Northwest frontier, the opportunities for criminals with powerful technology in their hands are ripe. Fans of the steampunk aesthetic will appreciate Bear’s affectionate treatment of the style. Weapons, gadgets, and their places in the characters’ lives put together a charmingly inventive fictional Seattle, ­especially for those readers bringing along some knowledge of the city’s nascent history. Karen’s first-person narration can feel a bit inconsistent with her swapping between eloquence and intentionally ungrammatical slang, but she always manages to hit the spot when her descriptions need to set the mood. — Booklist

Nov 25
2014

Tor.com’s Favorite Books of 2014

Congratulations to Elizabeth Bear, whose STELES OF THE SKY was included as one of Tor.com’s Favorite Books of 2014!

Nov 20
2014

Kirkus on Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Steampunk: Something of a new venture for Bear, whose previous output (Steles of the Sky, 2014, etc.) has ranged from heroic fantasy to science fiction, often with an embedded murder mystery. By the late 19th century, airships ply the trade and passenger routes, optimistic miners head in droves for the Alaskan gold fields, and steam-powered robots invented by licensed Mad Scientists do much of the heavy (and sometimes delicate) work. In Rapid City on the U.S. northwest coast, Madame Damnable operates the Hôtel Mon Cherie, a high-class bordello, paying a hefty “sewing machine tax” for the privilege. Here, orphaned horse-breaker and narrator Karen Memery (Bear doesn’t tell us why the book’s title is spelled differently) works among similarly lively, engaging and resourceful girls. One night, Priya, a malnourished but tough young woman, arrives at the door carrying the badly wounded Merry Lee, who escaped from one of the grim brothels operated by brutal gangster Peter Bantle (and has since made a career of rescuing other indentured girls from Bantle’s clutches). Madame Damnable’s steam-powered mechanical surgeon saves Merry’s life­but not before Bantle himself shows up, wearing, Karen notes, a peculiar glove that somehow can compel others to obey his commands. Worse, the following night the girls discover the body of a murdered prostitute nearby. U.S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves arrives with his Comanche sidekick, Tomoatooah; they’re tracking a serial killer who seems to have made his way to Rapid City. The story swiftly knots itself into steampunk-ishly surreal complications, with dauntless (and, by this point, love-stricken) Karen in the thick of the action. Supplies all the Bear necessities: strong female characters, existential threats, intriguing developments and a touch of the light fantastic. — Kirkus

Nov 17
2014

Kirkus’ Best Fiction Books of 2014

Congratulations to Elizabeth Bear (STELES OF THE SKY) and Mary Robinette Kowal (VALOUR AND VANITY) whose books made it onto Kirkus’ Best Fiction Books of 2014 list!

Nov 4
2014

Publishers Weekly on Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Bear’s rollicking, suspenseful, and sentimental steampunk novel introduces Karen Memery (“like ‘memory’ only spelt with an e”), a teenage “seamstress”­ that is, a prostitute ­at Madame Damnable’s Hôtel Mon Cherie in Rapid City. This Pacific Northwest city of an alternate 1878 is home to airships, surgical machines, and other mechanical wonders that can also be put to horrific use. As Karen meets and begins to fall for Priya, another sex worker who escaped from evil pimp Peter Bantle, they learn that Bantle has more dark plans than brothel competition. U.S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves and his Comanche partner, Tomoatooah, also tie Bantle to the gruesome murders of some of Rapid City’s most vulnerable women. Bear (The Eternal Sky) gives Karen a colorful voice, sharp eyes, and the spunk and skills necessary to scuffle with bad types as well as to win over people whose help she needs. Her story is a timeless one: a woman doing what is needed to get by while dreaming and fighting for great things to come. — Publishers Weekly

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