Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Will Android Karenina issue in a new wave of steampunk style?

The good folks at Quirk Classics are certainly not letting the pop culture grass grow under their feet. In addition to the upcoming prequel for Pride & Prejudices & Zombies,aka Dawn of the Dreadfuls,they have just announced another classic creature feature novel that takes quite a twist on a beloved tale of bad romance.

Android Karenina,due to arrive this June,has the co-author of Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters tackle the legendary Leo Tolstoy tome to create a new world for Anna,Count Vronsky,Kitty and Levin to not only work out their doomed love affairs in but team up to fight back against the rebellious robot servants who have decided to overthrow their human masters as well.

Winters is a good choice for this project,since he took a similar tone with S&S&SM,but I do wonder which translation of the original Anna Karenina was used here. No matter,AK is one of those books that I've been meaning to get to and this is a perfect excuse to finally tackle that particular juggernaut.

It will be interesting to see if Android Karenina succeeds in bringing the steampunk genre more fully into the spotlight that it ever has been before. "What the heck is steampunk,Lady T,some kind of fancy new laundry setting?" No,not quite.

Steampunk is a subgenre of sci-fi/fantasy that basically mixes advanced technology(and occasionally magic)with story lines that set in less advanced time periods. A good example of that is Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels that had the likes of Dr. Jekyll,Alan Quatermain and Mina Harker join a team of secret operatives in order to save England and occasionally the world from attacks by nefarious folks using aerial and biological warfare during the Victorian era.

The 2003 film adaptation of LOEG didn't go over well with critics or audiences,but it did try to strongly hold on to the steampunk style of the source material even when adding new characters like an adult Tom Sawyer and Dorian Gray into the mix:

Steampunk has it's firmest roots in literature,with authors such as Neal Stephenson,James P Blaylock, Gail Carriger and Jonathan Barnes expanding upon the offbeat side roads that many claim were first begun by H.G. Wells,Jules Verne and Mark Twain.

Plenty of intriguing re-imaginings of scientific and mystical concepts that many of us take for granted have been introduced in books like these. Mass transit,flight and computers are a handful of the chosen plot points and even ideas such as virtual reality and it's possible abuses have sprung up,most notably in Gordon Dahlquist's Glass Books of the Dream Eaters series:

While many steampunk stories are placed in Edwardian or Victorian England,the U.S. of A is not immune to the allure of the genre. Several books and even TV series have had an Old West goes Sci-Fi theme attached to them,unfortunately not always appreciated by mainstream audiences. Occasionally,that's been justified due to sloppy story telling with the likes of 19919's The Wild,Wild West stinking up the big screen.

A better attempt came about in the short lived TV series,The Adventures of Brisco County,Jr.,which starred Bruce Campbell as a lawman in the 1890s facing down strange vehicles and odd gadgets while searching for the gang of mysterious outlaws who killed his father. It was a fun show that gained some cult appeal and like it's premise,was beyond it's time:

Hopefully,Android Karenina will do for cyborgs what P&P&Z did for zombie chic and perhaps spread the classic monster mash trend in today's literature beyond the supernatural. While I love having Jane Austen and her fellow authors dip their toes in such scary waters,it'll be fun to see some of the science fiction follies that could crop up. Reading group discussions will never the same:


Ladytink_534 said...

I haven't tried steampunk yet but I recently won a book from that genre. I'm looking forward to reading it!

Melissa said...

Definitely adding Android Karenina to my to-read list! I read the real thing a few years ago, but don't remember a lot if it! Excelltent reason to tackle it again!