By Cindy Hannikman at Fantasy Book Critic: “Nine Pound Hammer” Book One in the Clockwork Dark Series by John Claude Bemis
Introduction: With so many books now a days using Greek mythology, or Roman mythology or sometimes even Irish and Russian mythology as a base for the plot line in the novels, I knew it would be any day now that someone would use the idea of American Folklore and make it into a YA/children’s book.

John Claude Bemis takes readers into a world where some of America’s great folk heroes have been protecting the world from an evil clockwork character that is seeking domination over the world. Now it’s those folk heroes’ children turn to take up the fight.

Overview: Ray and his sister start out on a train bound for the south that is headed to finding the two young orphans a home. After Ray has experienced a dream in which he has had many many times before he strolls around the train trying to sort out why the dream seems so familiar to him. However since his father has gone missing many years ago, and with his mother’s death there is no one to ask about these strange dreams.

While wandering around the train, Ray meets the strange owner of the train who convinces Ray that his sister might have a better opportunity to get adopted by a nice family if he wasn’t around. After putting that thought in his head, Ray decides to jump off the train and make it on his own in the Southern wilderness.

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from Jessica Johnson at the Walrus: Dances with Werewolves
Of all the supernatural beings that have haunted humanity through the ages — wizards, witches, zombies, vampires, ghosts — the werewolf is perhaps the most unlikely candidate for popular resurrection. It has no tragic, romantic ancestor like Dracula, whose descendants have been idealized of late in pop culture phenomena like Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. Nor does it recall a cheery, relatable figure along the lines of a Harry Potter, whose adventures have elevated the wizard to Beatle-like status among children and adults alike.

In a bestselling series of books with terse titles like Bitten, Stolen, Broken, and, most recently, this fall’s Frostbitten (set in Alaska), Armstrong posits that werewolves are alive and well, albeit living in relative seclusion in upstate New York. They hold jobs, use cellphones, and have gym memberships. The books are the kind of mass-market fiction you see people reading without dust jackets on the subway, unable to suppress a telltale grin. Like Stephen King, who manages an under-the-covers, flashlight-in-face kind of storytelling without sounding ridiculous, Armstrong not only writes interesting page-turners, she has also achieved that unlikely goal, what all writers strive for: a genre of her own.

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via Wil McCarthy at Sci Fi Wire: How H.G. Wells’ Dr. Moreau gave birth to the Wild Things
Some have beaks. Some have horns. Some bear a superficial resemblance to earthly farm animals, and some look more like mythological trolls and ogres. At a glance, the nine creatures on the island of the Wild Things come from entirely different branches of the evolutionary tree.

And yet they’re all approximately humanoid in shape, with arms, legs, eyes and ears all following the same basic plan. They all share another curious characteristic as well: oversized heads. Their features are also much flatter than those of the species they resemble.

Now, this is reminiscent of an evolutionary trick called “neoteny,” where adult animals (I’m assuming the Wild Things are adults) retain juvenile characteristics. This is a sort of shortcut, a way for evolution to tweak the body plan quickly—say, over a few hundred generations—by (in essence) allowing larvae and toddlers to become adult-sized and sexually mature without ever really becoming adults.

But neoteny isn’t all that common in the animal kingdom, and it seems odd that Maurice Sendak’s creatures should share so many characteristics with a notably neotenous creature like, say, the young boy Max who befriends them. So I can’t help wondering: Is the island of the Wild Things perhaps the same place as the Island of Dr. Moreau?

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That Wild Things article is awesome and slightly disturbing at the same time. But very creative. I’m very excited to see American Myth themed steampunk since it’s usually set in Victorian England. And I was undecided about reading Bitten, but now that I know a little more about the books, I’ll definitely get it.

What do you think about the Wild Thing’s “evolution”? What about American steampunk? Have you read Bitten? What did you think?