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Archive for December, 2010

Today we welcome Meljean Brook, author of the Steampunk romance The Iron Duke.

Meljean was raised in the middle of the woods in western Oregon, and hid under her covers at night with fairy tales, comic books, and romances…and that pretty much explains everything about her writing after she emerged from beneath her blankets and crawled in front of a computer.  Meljean is the bestselling author of the Guardians paranormal romance series and the Iron Seas steampunk romance series.

Steampunk Musings

by Meljean Brooks

A guest post on December 30th seems to scream for a retrospective of the year 2010, or a post offering predictions about the steampunk genre in 2011. Maybe a serious look back on the rise of steampunk, its increasing popularity in the mainstream (hello, fans of Castle!) and what we might expect next year: Will the popularity continue to rise, and more people become aware of its existence? Will steampunk burn out and fade into the relative obscurity of only a few years ago?

And that’s exactly what I’d intended to write for today. I suppose that might be called a “Ghosts of Steampunk’s Past, Ghosts of Steampunk’s Future” post…but I obviously just watched the Doctor Who special, “A Christmas Carol,” and I’m letting the spirit of the season get to me, and so instead of wondering about where steampunk has been and where it’s going, I’m far more interested in the constant, ever-changing present of it, and all of the fun and wonder that includes.

Doctor Who is to blame for that, as well – as is Craig Ferguson, and his awesome little song about the show (If you missed it, it’s here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9P4SxtphJ4) that concludes with the assertion that Doctor Who is so beloved by fans because it features the “triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.”

And the first (or maybe fifth) time I watched that little song, I thought: “Hell, yes. That’s exactly it!” Except I wasn’t thinking of Doctor Who at that moment; I was thinking of steampunk, and how many times I’ve tried to explain exactly what the appeal is – more than airships and gadgets, more than just the adventure. But there, Craig Ferguson summed it up for me in a neat little way: it’s the team-up of intellect and romance, and their inevitable triumph.

How is that not fist-pumpingly awesome?

Of course, steampunk is sometimes accused of being entrenched in the romantic past, and I don’t think that’s entirely wrong. It feels like there should be more tension between intellect and romance in steampunk – not unlike the tension that often existed between the eighteenth and nineteenth century romantic writers and their contemporary scientists – but the notion of science and intellect itself has been romanticized (the thrill of invention! the triumph of discovery! the celebration of the brilliant individual!) so that the tension is all but gone.

I don’t think it’s mired in that romanticism, though. What I’ve read of the genre doesn’t demonize rationalism or rigorous scientific thought (whether the actual science in many steampunk novels is all that rigorous, however… that is a discussion for another day, when I am far, far away.) There’s often a heavy dose of realism running through steampunk fiction – the effects of the Industrial Revolution (in Europe or elsewhere) are hard to ignore, after all – and it’s easy enough to pick out 20th century social and political viewpoints (where hopefully Steam actually tips his hat at Punk). It’s almost like reading a retrospective spanning two hundred years … except that the narrative is set at the beginning of the time period instead of the end, and it’s all speculative.

Steampunk gives us hundreds of years to expound upon, expand, twist, and explore – all through sharp, contemporary goggles. A retrospective of a single year simply can’t compare to that.

~Meljean

http://meljeanbrook.com

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So, has everyone recovered from holiday madness?  I hope whatever you desired was under the Christmas tree.  The new year is approaching and there’s a lot of great things to look forward to. 

The end of 2010 calls for a review of my favorite Steampunk books of 2010.  However, this list only draws from the books I’ve personally read that came out in 2010.  Books I read in 2010 that were released earlier were not included in this list as were books not specifically “Steampunk.”    There’s some great Steampunk books released this year that I haven’t read yet.   Also, this is just my own personal opinion. 

 

Lolita Suzanne’s Best Steampunk Books of 2010

 

Best YA Steampunk of 2010

The Dark Deeps: 
The Hunchback Assignments 2

by Arthur Slade

Summary:   Modo is a fourteen-year-old shape-shifting British secret agent.  Once again Modo and the unflappable Octavia Milkweed embark on a mission for Mr. Socrates in this tale of sea monsters, gadgets, French spies, and secrets.    

Why I loved it:  This year I discovered this series and I’m really enjoying it.   Modo and Octavia are terrific characters.  These books are very fun and adventurous and I love how Slade draws from all the classics.  I hope to see more titles in 2011. 

Best Steampunk Anthology of 2010

Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded

Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

Summary:  A followup of their 2008 anthology, the VanderMeers bring together an anthology of Steampunk fiction short stories and non-fiction articles suitable for both those new to the genre and avid Steampunkers. 

Why I loved it: I love the eclectic nature of the collection and how the VanderMeers blended original stories, reprints, and non fiction. Everything is artful–even the cover.   Gail Carriger’s essay is my personal favorite. 

Best Steampunk Book of 2010

Blameless

by Gail Carriger

Summary: Alexia is back and part of a scandal, having left her husband’s house and being in the family way.   She’s dismissed from the Shadow Council, Lord Akeldama leaves town before he can help her make sense of everything, and attacked by mechanical ladybugs.   In order to sold the mystery, Alexia embarks to Italy to consult the Templars.

Why I loved it:  I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but the cover model is simply extraordinary.  ~grin~  I adore these books and am a major Gail Carriger fan-girl.  Like the other books in the series, these books are fast-paced, cleaver, and make me laugh.  What’s not to love about homicidal lady bugs, Ivy running a hat shop,  and Alexia saving the world one cup of tea at a time? 

So, these are my personal picks for 2010.  What are  yours?

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from everyone at Steamed!

May Santa bring you everything you wish for.

 

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Today we welcome author Sheryl Nantus.

Sheryl Nantus was born in Montreal, Canada, and grew up in Toronto, Canada. A rabid reader almost from birth, she attended Sheridan College in Oakville, graduating in 1984 with a diploma in Media Arts Writing.
She met Martin Nantus through the online fanfiction community in 1993 and moved to the United States in 2000 in order to marry. A firm believer in the healing properties of peppermint and chai, she continues to write short stories, poetry and novels while searching for the perfect cuppa.

“Wild Cards and Iron Horses” is her third published title and is currently available in ebook form from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. A print edition from Samhain Publishing will be released in the summer of 2011.

Riding the Rails in New Babbage

by Sheryl Nantus

One of the hardest things to do as a writer is immerse yourself in the culture you’re writing about. Sometimes it’s difficult to work on stories about living in a Victorian age where machinery rule the skylines while you’re hammering on your computer keyboard or trying to quit the newest games app cold turkey. Getting your mind into the game can be almost impossible with all of the current-day distractions offering tempting alternatives or just killing the creative drive.

When I started out writing “Wild Cards and Iron Horses”, my American steampunk novel set in the Old West, I already had a great place to sit and work – my virtual home in New Babbage in Second Life. There my avatar, Sheryl Skytower, could meander around the virtual town and trip over various steampunk devices and settings while chatting in-character with other steampunk fans using New Babbage for their own virtual get-aways.

But wait… let me show you a bit about what New Babbage is. Come take a quick Christmas tour!

Second Life is a virtual world free to anyone who wants to sign up – you can spend real money buying Lindens to purchase what you wish to wear or use but many residents get along just fine picking up the free clothing and items offered by friends and retailers. Visit New Babbage.

Once inside Second Life you can find a variety of sims to visit, from vampire-themed areas to jazz clubs to Zen gardens. Almost three years ago I discovered the small and grimy steampunk town of New Babbage and decided to make it my home. That’s me there, the little clockwork dragon.

Once there I settled down and enjoyed all the usual small town activities. Evil scientists trying to take over the town, Martian invasions, zombie invasions, Christmas parties and, of course, airship races. I also discovered a wonderful little café where I could sit and write while my real-life identity did the same. It was during this time that I did the majority of work on “Wild Cards” because it was so easy to fall back into the steampunk world on the page while experiencing it on the computer screen.

Roleplaying is common in many steampunk areas of Second Life, but not mandatory. If you want to create another persona for yourself with a mechanical arm or even entire body, it’s perfectly acceptable. As for myself, I chose to be a human trapped in the body of a clockwork dragon due to my grandfather doing some rather unorthodox experiments. Think Walter Bishop from “Fringe” and you’ll get an idea of what I’m referring to.

Spending some time in a steampunk virtual world is a great way to get the creative juices flowing and to enjoy some time away from the real world. Visit a Victorian-era carnival and see the mechanical beasts on the carousel! Attend a dance overseen by a loud noisy smoking robot putting down some radical tracks over the airwaves! Take an airship tour of the many libraries in Caledon and see the original (or so I’ve been told!) Time Machine donated by Mr. Wells!

I have to credit my time in New Babbage for the success of “Wild Cards and Iron Horses” and for inspiring me for the future. Between the people and the setting it’s easy to imagine a steampunk world when you spend some time living in it!

If you’re looking for a way to interact with fellow steampunk aficionados and am unable to get out to the conventions or meetings you might want to consider visiting Second Life and all of the Steamlands in the virtual world. You never know who or what you might find in your steampunk Second Life!

~ Sheryl Nantus

 

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I have nothing profound to say on this very wet and dreary Monday.  So I’m just going to share some cogs and gears (odds and ends) with you all.

Steampunk Shakespeare Anthology Call for Submissions

Submission guidelines for “The Omnibus of Doctor Bill Shakes and the Magnificent Ionic Pentatetrameter: A Steampunk’s Shakespeare Anthology.”

From Hamlet as half-man half-machine to Henry V at the helm of an army of men in steam-powered mechanical suits, the sky is the proverbial limit for adapting William Shakespeare’s classic plays and sonnets to the Steampunk aesthetic.

This is not intended to be a series of mash-ups, like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, but rather re-inventions of the classic Shakespearean stories and sonnets. You are free to adapt Shakespeare’s language and themes to a Neo-Victorian setting as you will, but unlike the typical mash-up, you don’t have to include every line of original text from your chosen play or sonnet.

We prefer stories where Steampunk elements and themes are thoughtfully applied to Shakespeare’s works. Do not simply throw automatons into Hamlet or Steampunk technology into Richard III; consider how such technological changes may reinterpret the original stories. Saying it another way: What new insight will your Steampunk version of Shakespeare bring to the Bard’s original works?

General Guidelines:

  • Send all submissions to submissions@doctorfantastiques.com as attachment in either Microsoft Word (DOC or DOCX), Real Text Format (RTF) or OpenOffice (ODT) format, with a short introductory letter.
  • All submissions should have STEAMPUNK SHAKESPEARE: Story Title/Sonnet Numbers in the subject line. Any submissions without this information will not be considered for the anthology.
  • We’d prefer inclusion of Steampunk elements in the title of each story, i.e. “Othello, The Half-Machine Moor of Venice” or something similar.
  • We also welcome interpretations with queer characters, characters of color, non-heteronormative relationships, characters with disabilities, non-Eurocentric settings and other traditionally marginalized narratives in mainstream fiction.
  • All submissions must be received no later than 12 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time on 30 May 2011. There will be no exceptions.

NOTE: This anthology will be released through the Steampunk Imprint of Flying Pen Press (http://FlyingPenPress.com) as both a print book and an ebook.

Frequently Asked Questions

Attention Steampunk Writers

Steampunkl writers, have you joined The Steampunk Writers and Artists Guild yet? 

Also, I have a yahoo group for those who are writing/wanting to write steampunk. If you’re seriously writing or wanting to write Steampunk and want to learn more, share links, and connect with other writers in a email-group-type fashion come on over. Make sure to tell me you’re a reader of Steamed!

Santa, are you reading this? 

Dear Santa,

I would really, really, really, like these boots for Christmas.  Please?

You can get them at Clockwork Couture. 

Love, Me. 

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