|Ganymede, by Cherie Priest
||[Sep. 17th, 2011|06:22 pm]
Review copy provided by Tor.
I hate zombies, and I eye steampunk sideways, and I still pick these up and read them promptly every time one arrives in my mailbox. There's just something I find compulsively readable about them.
In each of the volumes, Cherie has a disclaimer about how this is alternate history about zombies, dammit, so writing to her about how she's got the history wrong is beside the point. And I simultaneously get what she's saying there and don't entirely agree. I know how it goes when the story you want to tell doesn't overlap very well with explaining every last little thing, and how readers who nitpick are not always looking at things productively. And yet when we write with alternate history settings instead of straight-up imagined world settings, it's for some reason, some power that comes from those connections, and you can't really say, "I just want the powerful stuff and not the inconvenient stuff."
Well, in this volume Cherie did some things that quieted one of my few negative reactions to her earlier works. I had felt that the way the South handled African-Americans' status and rights had glossed over some pretty important historical attitudes, and while I understood that was not the story she wanted to tell, it made me sort of squint sideways whenever it came up. Well, in Ganymede it's a lot closer to the story she wanted to tell. We get a lot of perspective of free people of color in southern regions in this book, and their world and worldview made me a lot more interested in the rest of what was going on.
The beginning and ending aren't precisely a framing device, but they refer back to the rest of the series and ground the book in the rest of the series. I'm hoping that doesn't put off new readers, because I think this is otherwise a perfectly sound book for starting the series, and it may well be my favorite. Less of the gas masks and goggles, okay, but more Marie Laveau, which for me is a win-win but for other people should at least balance out.