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The Gaslight Dogs
By Karin Lowachee

Discussed June 2011

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Characters:

  • Sjennonirk: an Aniw; ankago (Ciracusan: "spiritwalker") to her people of the Dog.
  • Captain Jarrett Fawle: Ciracusan soldier at frontier Fort Girs; son of General Fawle.
  • Father Bari Konstanz: Ciracusan priest of the Church of the Seven Deities (Varana Ingen Order, dedicated to the father patron of explorers and orphaned children).
  • Sister Oza: Ciracusan priestess of the Church of the Seven Deities (possibly of the Varana Drethe Order, a militant Church order supposed to have been disbanded); assigned as garrison chaplain to Fort Girs, replacing Father Konstanz.
  • General Cillein Fawle: Ciracusan army general; father of Captain Jarrett Fawle and of Keeley.
  • Keeley: Whishishian tracker; illegitimate son of General Fawle.
  • Qoyotariz: war leader of the Soreganee.

Questions:

  1. Jeff Vandermeer's The Steampunk Bible includes comments from Karin Lowachee on the subject of "the changing steampunk subgenre." Vandemeer and Lowachee seem to think that The Gaslight Dogs is a "steampunk" novel. What's your opinion?
  2. The Gaslight Dogs ends rather abruptly, with unresolved plot points. Were you disturbed by this? (Apparently it's the first book of a planned trilogy; but I can't find any indication of when the next novel will be published.) Did you find this novel enjoyable or interesting enough to make you want to read the next book in the series whenever it comes out?
  3. Lowachee has obviously based her Pangani ("abo") and Aniew ("husky") cultures on Amerindian and Inuit models. What is your opinion of her depiction of Pangani and Aniew cultures, societies, mythologies, shamanistic practices? Are they well-written? Do they seem to make sense to you?
  4. What do you think the "little spirits" are? Are they spirit guides, tutelary deities, animal familiars, ancestral spirits, or something else entirely? What's your opinion of the way Lowachee handles the "little spirits" of Sjennonirk, Qoyotariz, and Captain Fawle?
  5. From indications mentioned in passing during the story, what do you think is the background for the relationship between Ciracusa and Sairland?
  6. What is your opinion of the Church of the Seven Deities and the Varanas? Since many aspects of The Gaslight Dogs are clearly based on models from our history, can you think of models that Lowachee might have used as the basis for the Church and its practices?
  7. "Post-colonial F&SF" is a hot topic of discussion lately. What is your opinion of Lowachee's depiction of "imperialism" and "culture clash"? How effective is she at critiquing imperialism "from the other side"?
  8. Ciracusans seem to treat non-white races in very different ways. Were you surprised at the apparent difference in interracial relations in Ciracusa (for example, the difference between the way Father Bari or Sister Oza are treated vs. the treatment of the Pangani and Aniew in general)?
  9. Is there LGBT content?
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