Reading expands the mind and offers an escape from the present world, but in today’s busy world, it is often hard to find time to sit down with a good book. LibriVox is a website that provides free audio-books from the public domain.

I highly recommend LibriVox as a way to listen to some of the world’s most classic literature while on the go. I listened to The Island of Doctor Moreau while playing my MMO over Christmas. Each chapter of the version I heard was recorded by different people from all over the world, with all sorts of varying English accents. There is no diction test to be allowed to record for LibriVox, and while I did not have any issues with the recording I sampled, some people who have not been exposed to various accents might find some of the readers difficult to understand. In all honesty, though, I personally had no problems, and I delight in the idea of the collaborative effort of LibriVox to make public domain literature as widely available as possible.

What’s nice about Steampunk is that many of the seminal works that make the foundations of our subculture are now in the public domain. Because the works of writers like H.G.Wells, Jules Verne, Mark Twain, Mary Shelly, and Charles Dickens are now in the public domain, they are present on LibriVox for your auditory and literary pleasure.

So, this weekend, consider expanding your exposure to great works of literature through LibriVox. I’m sure that you will be glad that you did.

Steampunk Anthologies

This evening, I bring you two different Steampunk short story anthologies for your reading pleasure: Extraordinary Engines edited by Nick Gevers, and Steampunk by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer.

Both are collections of short stories from the Steampunk fiction genre, so if you are a fan of short fiction, these works will be sure to excite.

These anthologies explore the many facets of Steampunk fiction. Steampunk attempts to look at all the things that could be considered as having Steampunk elements, while Extraordinary Engines takes a bit more or a traditionalist focus in the pieces selected for it.

It sometimes felt that Steampunk tried so hard to include a little bit of everything, rather than focus on any core idea of Steampunk and as a result, it was all over the place. I had a hard time picking out a unifying theme for all of the pieces. Steampunk seemed to focus more on what Steampunk could be rather than what it is at present.  Also, there are a few pieces in here that aren’t child appropriate, particularly The Steam Man of the Prairie and the Dark Rider Get Down. You have been warned!

Extraordinary Engines does a better job of sticking to one idea of Steampunk, and I personally think that the anthology benefits from this narrower vision. I personally think that more Steampunks will identify with the pieces in Extraordinary Engines… I know I did.

Overall, I gave Steampunk a 3 out of 5 Gears of Approval. Extraordinary Engines receives 4.5 out of 5 Gears of Approval.

If you’d like to read either of these anthologies, click on the images of their covers to visit Amazon, or visit the science-fiction section your local bookstore.

I do hope you enjoy this reading material. Perhaps consider picking one up for the approaching weekend!