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Pump Six and Other Stories
Paolo Bacigalupi

The Native Star

The Native Star - M.K. Hobson Three quality, four enjoyment. Picked up because of how much I like M.K. Hobson's stuff with the Escape Pod family of podcasts. I think someone called this witchpunk? Like steampunk, but with fantasy elements and bonus Ye Olde Weste setting. A thoroughly delightful genre mashup - you got your steampunk in my fantasy! you got your western in my Regency romance! and then there was a flying machine! - with characters that are going to be awesome about three books into this (presumed) series.

Okay, honesty time? I think my enjoyment of this story was slightly diminished by the heroine's name. I have a certain...idea in my head of how characters named Emily should behave, should be, and this Emily let me down a bit. Oh, nothing atrocious, nothing that would be unforgiveable in an Abigail or a Mary or a Samantha, but the first chunk of stuff was sort of facepalmingly deliberately ignorant and foolish. It edged uncomfortably close to the "I am a spunky heroine! I am independent and strong! ...I will run straight into the worst possible situation and be prettily vexed when things go inevitably, horribly wrong and I have to be saved!" It was hard for me to accept! Emilys don't do that! Or shouldn't! Something. Once I let go of that, it was much smoother sailing.

Plus, one of the extra lovely bits about this book is the actual consequences for many of the irritating things. Heroine runs off and does something stupid because she is "fierce" and "independent"? Bad things actually happen, and she gets smarter! Dodgy love spell is cast? Dodgy things happen, and Our Heroine gets smarter! I never got the feeling that the author didn't know when her heroine was being mighty wearisome.