This was their first exposure to the world of Steampunk. For reference, we used the definition:
Steampunk (noun): a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology; a style of design and fashion that combines historical elements with anachronistic technological features inspired by science fiction.
As Maddie Hatter is a fashion reporter, the subsidiary definition of "homage to vintage fashion with a modern, sassy twist" is also appropriate. Maddie's fictional fashions follow historical fashion more closely than some Steampunk novels - and many Steampunk costumes - do, in large part because the ladies' apparel of the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras offers great scope for any writer who loves elegance and fine fabrics.
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We also discussed the novelists considered to be the forefathers (and one foremother) of Steampunk literature: HG Wells (especially The Time Machine), Jules Verne (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), Arthur Conan Doyle (the Professor Challenger stories), and Mary Shelley (Frankenstein, for the advanced laboratory and energies with with Dr. Frankenstein was experimenting).
Several members mentioned how much they enjoyed Maddie's daring and adventurous spirit. One member, a French-speaker, was irked by the name Hercule Hornblower; even though she recognized why his name was what it was, the juxtaposition of the French and English names got on her nerves. Apart from his name, she found Hornblower fun. One member was reading the book with her granddaughter, who found the clockwork birds fascinating. Several found the references to the game of Clue enjoyable, and everyone loved the fashions.
Photos of some club members with their books:
They were sorry I hadn't brought that huge, flower-and-ribbon-bedecked, Madame Taxus-Hemlock hat I usually wear at signings.
Judging by the reactions at my last public book-signing, when fully half the autograph hunters were over 40 (and most of the rest under 15), The Intrepids are not alone in the category of mature Maddie fans. I look forward to seeing them again next winter, when two more Maddie Hatter books are in print and ready for their
PS - for reference, here's a photo of one of Maddie's youngest fans. The book looks huge in her small hands.
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