Cover image for Karen Memory
Title:
Karen Memory
Author:
Bear, Elizabeth, author.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Tor, 2015.
Physical Description:
350 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
"Steampunk novel set in Seattle in the late 19th century--an era when the town was called Rapid City, when the parts we now call Seattle Underground were the whole town (and still on the surface), when airships plied the trade routes bringing would-be miners heading up to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront. Karen is a "soiled dove, " a young woman on her own who is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable's high-quality bordello. Through Karen's eyes we get to know the other girls in the house--a resourceful group--and the poor and the powerful of the town. Trouble erupts into her world one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, seeking sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, who has a machine that can take over anyone's mind and control their actions. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap--a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered" --
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Language:
English
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780765375247
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

"You ain't gonna like what I have to tell you, but I'm gonna tell you anyway. See, my name is Karen Memery, like memory only spelt with an e, and I'm one of the girls what works in the Hôtel Mon Cherie on Amity Street. Hôtel has a little hat over the o like that. It's French, so Beatrice tells me."

Set in the late 19th century--when the city we now call Seattle Underground was the whole town (and still on the surface), when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront, Karen is a young woman on her own, is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable's high-quality bordello. Through Karen's eyes we get to know the other girls in the house--a resourceful group--and the poor and the powerful of the town. Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, beggin sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone's mind and control their actions. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap--a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.

Bear brings alive this Jack-the-Ripper yarn of the old west with a light touch in Karen's own memorable voice, and a mesmerizing evocation of classic steam-powered science.


Author Notes

ELIZABETH BEAR was the recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2005. She has won two Hugo Awards for her short fiction, a Sturgeon Award, and the Locus Award for Best First Novel. She is the author of the acclaimed Eternal Sky series. Bear lives in Brookfield, Massachusetts.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

If contemporary Seattle is an apt setting for cyberpunk thrillers, it stands to reason that nineteenth-century Seattle should serve just as well for a steampunk adventure. Bear's new novel follows the title character's life as a bordello girl working along Puget Sound, from which steam-powered airships take gold prospectors up and down the western mountain ranges. But in the seedy dockside world of the Pacific Northwest frontier, the opportunities for criminals with powerful technology in their hands are ripe. Fans of the steampunk aesthetic will appreciate Bear's affectionate treatment of the style. Weapons, gadgets, and their places in the characters' lives put together a charmingly inventive fictional Seattle especially for those readers bringing along some knowledge of the city's nascent history. Karen's first-person narration can feel a bit inconsistent with her swapping between eloquence and intentionally ungrammatical slang, but she always manages to hit the spot when her descriptions need to set the mood.--Francis, Chris Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Bear's rollicking, suspenseful, and sentimental steampunk novel introduces Karen Memery ("like 'memory' only spelt with an e"), a teenage "seamstress"-that is, a prostitute-at Madame Damnable's Hôtel Mon Cherie in Rapid City. This Pacific Northwest city of an alternate 1878 is home to airships, surgical machines, and other mechanical wonders that can also be put to horrific use. As Karen meets and begins to fall for Priya, another sex worker who escaped from evil pimp Peter Bantle, they learn that Bantle has more dark plans than brothel competition. U.S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves and his Comanche partner, Tomoatooah, also tie Bantle to the gruesome murders of some of Rapid City's most vulnerable women. Bear (The Eternal Sky) gives Karen a colorful voice, sharp eyes, and the spunk and skills necessary to scuffle with bad types as well as to win over people whose help she needs. Her story is a timeless one: a woman doing what is needed to get by while dreaming and fighting for great things to come. Agent: Jennifer Jackson, Donald Maass Literary Agency. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Life in Madame Damnable's isn't bad for a working girl in a frontier town, or it wasn't until Karen got on the wrong side of Peter Bantle-pimp, politician, and possibly murderer. Bear has created a vivid Old West landscape that teems with vice and violence, with marvelous steampunk touches. (LJ 12/14) (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.