My recent foray into the world of Steampunk has left me energized and eagerly awaiting Cherie Priest’s next installment in her Clockwork Century series, Ganymede, due out Sept. 27, 2011; Tor Books. Meanwhile, I decided to explore other titles in the sub-genre and discovered the Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld.
Westerfeld is the author of five science fiction novels as well as three young adult series: Midnighters, Uglies, and The Leviathan Trilogy which is the subject of this post. You can find out more about the author at his Scott Westerfeld Web site.
Whether or not you are a Steampunk or science fiction fan, Westerfeld’s Leviathan and Behemoth are rock-solid examples of how to not only present rich characters, they could easily serve as educational aids in how to fictionalize historical events as well as how bits of science can be used to create believable elements that never existed but… just maybe… could?
In Leviathan, the first book in the series, we are introduced to the story’s two primary characters, a young Austrian prince on the run and girl posing as a boy in order to join the British Air Service in Victorian England. The action plays out in fictionalized WWI Europe where war pits Darwinist England, and its “living” genetically-engineered weaponry, against the Clankers (Germany) and its mechanized military.
So brilliantly does the author present his story elements that any disbelief as to the possibility of the characters, history, creatures and machinery evaporates in a cloud of Victorian steam.Even the author’s “tweaks” to history, although substantial, seem more like they’d been gently molded rather than bent into shape with a crowbar.
For an audio taste of Leviathan check out Westerfeld’s illustrated You Tube trailer: Leviathan Trailer.
The second installment in the trilogy, Behemoth, carries Prince Alek and Deryn (Dylan Sharp) deeper into their adventure, complete with the deep lexicon, vivid supporting characters and creative engineering that made Leviathan a non-stop read.
As I stated earlier, you don’t need to be a Steampunk aficionado or a science fiction junkie to not only enjoy but learn from these novels. Both are fun, rich stories whose fabricated elements are so believable that you’ll forget they are pure fantasy. If you’ve ever wanted to fictionalize history, create compelling characters, generate fictional life-forms from scientific reality or create gadgets to help your characters in their adventures, Westerfeld’s Leviathan Trilogy will point the way. Just remember your safety restraint after you’re under way.