Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Vancouver Steam Consortium & Librarium: Steampunk Book Club Discusses Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Greetings everyone!

Apologies for the distinct lack of activity over the last couple of months - life has prevented me from having the time,  and more critically, the spare brain power to allow me to write here (or tinker as much as I'd like either!).  Alas, I lack minions upon whom I can toss all the menial and uninteresting tasks that periodically occupy more of my time.  (If anyone has spare minions, do let me know).

However, one of the things keeping me occupied has been my attempts at prompting more local steampunk events.  I started up a craft meet on a bimonthly basis, and so far have had one in July, one in September, and one is upcoming in early November. 

I also created and instituted the Vancouver Steam Librarium & Consortium, since a few like-minded keen readers expressed an interest in us having a local steampunk book club.  
I am organizing this through my Facebook group, Vancouverites for Steampunk, and our first meeting was in early October.  The book voted for the first discussion was Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld.
I faced various challenges starting this up: firstly, I have never attended a book club, let alone run one (though I do have a BA English Major), and secondly, there are not a lot of book club questions out there for steampunk literature (that I could find).  All I found for Leviathan were a few questions on E.M. Rowan's blog.
So I had to make up my own.  And, it occurred to me, as our consortium meets and discusses various books, perhaps I should post the questions here, for the benefit of others starting up Steampunk / Dieselpunk book clubs in their area.  So, good folks, I am including here:

Discussion Questions for Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan:

1.  Steampunk as literary genre:  Is Leviathan steampunk?  Or not?  Does it matter?  What makes it fit or fail the steampunk genre.

2.  Did the plot pull you into the book, or did it leave you cold?  Are you anticipating reading the sequels?

3.  Were the characters (Aleksandar, Deryn) sufficiently developed?  Were they engaging?  Realistic?

4. Were the illustrations an enhancement to Leviathan? What are your thoughts on the art?

5.  Was there anything unique or different about the setting that caught your attention?

6.  Any thoughts on the world created in Leviathan?  The Darwinist fabricated beasts versus the Clankers and Monkey-Luddites?

7.  What do you think of the time-period of Leviathan's setting, and of it being based around the reality of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the Archduke of Austria, and his wife, Sophie?  Would you have preferred an entirely fabricated world?

8.  Upon reading the cryptic ending of the book, what sort of beast can you conceive of, “no bigger than a top hat”, which could possibly keep an empire out of the War?

9.  What are your thoughts on reading Young Adult fiction as part of a book club? 

10.  Finally, on a scale of 1 to 5, rate Leviathan (1 is I hated it, 5 is I loved it, 3 is meh)

Let me know what you think of the questions.  Alas, for the first meeting of our Steam Librarium, of the four others who attended, only one other person had read the book.  Though, to be fair, when the others said they couldn't come as they hadn't read the book, I encouraged them to come anyway, so we could discuss the club in general, select the next book, etcetera.  And everyone had a good time. 

I will keep everyone posted on how this experiment in running a steampunk bookclub goes.  Our next book, as voted at the Consortium, is Soulless, by Gail Carriger, discussed in mid-November.

Does anyone have any feedback?  Questions?  Suggestions?  Has anyone started up a steampunk bookclub in your area or attended one?

Note: The book and glasses image which I am using for the Vancouver Steam Librarium & Consortium is borrowed from an archive post from at , until I manage to create an image of my own.


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  2. We're doing Leviathan for our book club at my library! I talked them into it because I love Steampunk and thought this would be a good intro to people who don't know anything about steampunk. I'm so happy to see someone else using this book!