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The Constantine Affliction
By T. Aaron Payton
Night Shade Books
It's true: just as some people always love them some Scandinavian crime fiction, I always love me some steampunk! And in fact, this is what has directly led to me taking it easier recently on fans of subgenres I find silly, precisely from realizing that I'm a big fan of a subgenre that a lot of others find ridiculous; and there's nothing wrong with that, either, as long as you recognize that you're basically letting your fetishistic love of the accrouchements surrounding that subgenre forgive what is sometimes only mediocre storytelling, and vow to make that easy love only an occasional treat instead of the main ingredient of your reading diet. Take this charming but forgettable title, for example, which I confess even just a month between finishing it and now has already become hazy in my head, just another Sherlockian actioner containing the same beats as all the others; although certainly I haven't forgotten the great and unique central premise, the thing that's gotten it most of its press, that Payton's speculative alt-history Victorian London includes a sexually transmitted disease that turns people literally into the opposite gender, and that the resulting panic regarding human intimacy has among other things created an entire new industry of robot prostitutes. That's what makes subgenres work, after all, no matter which one you're talking about -- they mostly all concern themselves with roughly the same general type of storyline, and it's the very specific details where one book will stand out over another among readers -- and for existing fans of steampunk, Constantine has everything you could want regarding this, although it's only okay as a general piece of literature and will drive non-fans of Victoriana batsh-t crazy. This should all be kept in mind when deciding whether or not to pick up a copy yourself.
Out of 10: 8.0, or 9.0 for steampunk fans
P.S. I'll never be able to think of steampunk the same way after seeing Felicia Day's take on it in The Guild...