I'll Have The Steampunk Dystopian Fairytale On The Rocks


Our current culture seems to have entered the age of enthusiastic cross-genre hybridization, resulting in an interesting cocktail mix of pretty much anything you could think of, from music to film, fashion, FOOD!!! and, of course, literature.
In music we have R&B soulstress Janelle Monae crooning to the bass-thundering youth-anthem We Are Young, by rock newcomers Fun. Most-played song on my iPod last month.

In film we have the found-footage independent sci-fi mockumentary Chronicle -- picture a home movie of a teenager who will one day become a Marvel super-villain, but before the tights and evil cape twirling. I thought it was wicked awesome.

In fashion you could probably look out a window and see any number of hybrid fashion horrors/wonders: bow ties and skinny jeans, mini-skirts and baggy tees, cardigans and jean shorts... Converse and tuxedos (ahem, guilty). We'll let you decide which are the horrors *winks*

In some refrigerators -- FOOD! -- there's barbeque chicken pizza (weird but you can't force people to see how wrong that is) cozying up to green tea ice cream (sounds weird until it's in your mouth) and bacon-wrapped chocolate (sounds weird and IT IS) romancing the white chocolate macadamia nut cream cheese wontons (your cholesterol will curse the day you were born, but your stomach will want to marry you AND your eating utensil, which is probably illegal in someone's fictional version of Earth but some things are above culinary legalities, real or imagined).

Which brings me to literature.

Cinder, the first book of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, is a great example of this popular multi-genre blending.

Inspired by the Perrault fairytale classic Cinderella, Cinder is set in a future distant enough that colonization of the moon has resulted in a lunar culture and race quite separate from Earth (which has become an amalgam of different cultures, primarily Asian). 

Traditional steampunk is usually relegated to historical periods set before the rise of electrical and electronic technology, but the world of Cinder somehow radiates a kind of gritty, less than pristine attitude; there is advanced technologically, yes, but the world still seems somehow more rugged than our present.

It might have to do with the throwback views of the society towards cyborgs, people who have replaced parts of their anatomy with organic machinery – they are treated as outcasts, sometimes property, sometimes criminals, but always less than human.

Cinder, the name of our female protagonist, is one of these cyborgs, as well as a skilled mechanic, both of which are catalysts for her involvement with Prince Kai (who just wanted his favorite android repaired), as well as the growing conflict between the people of Earth and the strange not-quite-human people of the moon (who have reasons of their own to despise Cinder beyond her mechanical prosthetics). 

Cinder is an intriguing re-imagining of a beloved tale which fans of The Hunger Games series, fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and fans of strong female characters in general will enjoy but be warned: it's not for the weak-stomached or squeamish or loose-bladdered (and if any of that intrigues you, you're just the type of person who should be reading it)!

No comments: