Now this article’s aim is not to criticize but to give fair warning to potential steampunk book consumers. All Men of Genius is a terrible book. It’s written like a Shakespeare comedic play, which might not be terrible but it doesn’t belong on the science fiction/ fantasy shelf. It does itself and potential readers a great disservice by being put in the mix with other steampunk books.
The story is about a girl named Violet who doesn’t like her place in Victorian society, because she is the best scientist ever. So she dresses like a man and takes the identity of her brother Ashton. She enrolls in the best science college in all of London and does inventions and stuff. It would be hard to summarize the rest of the story as it is just a blur of boredom and nothing. Violet goes in the basement sometimes and sees some clockwork automatons, who are dangerous, and is in some kind of romance with the Duke in Charge of the School. He kisses her when he thinks she’s a boy or something.
The author, Lev A.C. Rosen, is dressed in steampunk attire on the book’s sleeve jacket, which should be a big red flag (he is a weirdo). Rosen is a New York author writing about a Victorian-era girl living in London. Rosen is not the only American author in the steampunk genre to write about the subject, but this story is by far the most character-driven, which makes it an unnatural read. The story starts out with the author telling the reader that all of the characters are completely mad, which is obnoxious.
Why not write a steampunk story set in Victorian era New York?
The Falling Machine (2011) is a steampunk novel that is set in New York and it is all the more interesting. The great Mark Twain found the most success and critical acclaim where the stories were set on the Mississippi River and not in some European kingdom.
Perhaps All Men of Genius has its audience, but it isn’t in steampunk fiction. It’s overly sexual but at the same time seems to be aiming for a young adult audience. It’s incredibly slow and the characters and scenarios are obnoxious.
All Men of genius is by far the worst steampunk book Steampunkbooks.net has ever come across. What is most impressive about Lev A.C. Rosen was that he somehow got published and the booked seemed to have been pretty well circulated. What is even more impressive is that it somehow got circulated with just about the blandest boring cover art that has ever been seen in the steampunk genre. It’s almost as if the illustrator couldn’t get past the boredom of the book to produce anything remotely interesting for the cover.
Also, the Steampunk Scholar claimed he liked this book and was very rude when presented with an alternative opinion. The book is boring and is not recommended by Steampunk Books.
This story is part of the archive of Steampunk Books, Kevin Steele’s website of hackneyed steampunk book reviews and lists (2016-20). Click here for the full archive.