HADRON AGE SF (36)
September 7, 2022
One in a series of posts about the 75 best sf adventures published during the genre’s Hadron Age era (from 2004–2023, according to HILOBROW’s periodization schema). For Josh Glenn’s Hadron Age Sci-Fi 75 list (a work in progress), click here.
Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker (2009).
I’m not particularly interested in steampunk, but when io9.com selected this title for their June 2010 book club, I picked it up… and, despite some quibbles, I’m glad I did. The titular “Boneshaker” is a super-drill invented — at the request of Russian prospectors, during the Klondike Gold Rush — to break through the ice in (Russia-owned) Alaska. Leviticus Blue, the device’s inventor, goes missing after his machine destroys several blocks of downtown Seattle and releases a subterranean vein of “blight gas” that kills and zombifies its victims. That section of Seattle is walled off. Sixteen years later, Blue’s son Zeke — eager to clear his father’s name — dons a gas mask and enters Seattle’s forbidden zone. His equally intrepid mother, Briar, follows him. There’s a sinister figure, Minnericht, believed to be Leviticus Blue; he ends up capturing Zeke. Briar, for reasons to be made clear later, doesn’t believe that Minnericht is who people think he is. A dashing fellow named Jeremiah Swakhammer and other non-“rotters” still live in downtown Seattle, it turns out; they help Briar in her quest. Atmospheric, inventive, and yes — there is a dirigible chase.
Fun facts: Winner of the Locus Award. Subsequent books set in the “Clockwork Century” universe include: Clementine (2010), Dreadnought (2010), Ganymede (2011), The Inexplicables (2012), Fiddlehead (2013), and Jacaranda (2015).
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST HADRON AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES.