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Posts Tagged ‘Society of Steam’

Today we welcome Andrew Mayer, author of the Society of Steam Trilogy.

Andrew Mayer was born on the tiny island of Manhattan, and is still fascinated by their strange customs and simple ways.  When he’s not writing new stories he works as a videogame designer and digital entertainment consultant. Over the years he has has created numerous concepts, characters, and worlds including the original Dogz and Catz digital pets.  These days he resides in Oakland, CA where he spends too much time on the internet, and not enough time playing his ukulele.

Steampunk is coming to town

by Andrew Mayer

Have you seen the latest Jusin Bieber video? A breakdancing Santa Claus is breaking it down in Victorian underwear, and Justin is there to meet him in a gear-studded vest with a mechanical glove.  It is, for better or worse, absolutely steampunk.

And according to some very irate (and some very gleeful) nerds, it’s also supposedly the end of steampunk as we know it. And I’m here to say that while they may just be right, but it also may also be the dawn of something new.

Of all the people who seemed to be the most gleeful at the genre’s imminent demise, the ones who amuse me the most are fantasy fans. They rub their hands together with joy, claiming that steampunk is getting too watered down and too mainstream.

From my point of view, it’s all jealousy and glass houses. After all, while steampunk may have its tropes of gears and goggles, fantasy has had decades to commit far worse sins. Anyone remember Tom Cruise as the elf-boy in Legend? How about the shelves of gift stores in malls across the world that are sagging with “adorable” dragon figurines? And we’ve just survived a decade of Harry Potter with light plastic wands and vibrating nimbus brooms, and yet somehow fantasy seems to have thrived, with Peter Jackson about to send us back to Middle Earth for two more films.

But success does have its cost, and the truth is that Fantasy had been splashing around in the mainstream (and doing mostly a poor job of it) for almost forty years before it found the more genuine “gritty” aesthetic that powers so much of the modern day genre (like Song of Ice and Fire). And even so, for every gritty elf assassin, there’s a Galadriel Barbie doll.

So fantasy fans, may you mock us for Justin Bieber, but remember that it wasn’t all that long after Tolkien had finished his genre-defining masterpiece that Leonard Nimoy (still sporting his Mr. Spock hair cut) sang about Hobbits in a video that definitely feels a very, very long way from Bag End…

Besides, this isn’t the first time that we’ve heard that steampunk is “over”. It isn’t even the first time this year. Back in January there were plenty of folks claiming that its appearance in thousands of gear-encrusted tchotchkes on Etsy was proof of the apocalypse. And yet, somehow, in the last year we’ve not only gotten Justin Bieber interested, but there’s also another Sherlock Holmes film, a steampunk spinoff for Warehouse 13, and books of all types (from Romance, to my own superhero benders and beyond). There’s even more movies on the way. And every time the things take a new twist or turn, thousands more people ask the all-important question, “Hey, what is this steampunk stuff all about?”

So, while people want to see the mainstreaming of steampunk as the beginning of the end of a genre, having it appear in a huge mainstream video is probably the end of the beginning. It’s understandable that people are feeling a sense of loss. You always do when something you love grows up. And it’s always more fun when you and your friends “own” something that nobody knows about than it is telling your parents why there’s a clockwork doll hanging out with the breakdancing Santa. But, as we’ve seen with other genres, that can also be the moment of greatest opportunity as well.

Steampunk may have started out with the grit intact, but if it’s going to stick around it has to show a softer, more family-friendly side as well. Seeing that happen as it enters in the mainstream isn’t a sign of failure, it’s an opportunity for more people to discover the charms of our neo-Victorian aesthetic, and that means it’s going to stick around for just a little bit longer, even if we have to endure plush zeppelins and plastic goggles.

But that success goes both ways, and the longer steampunk lasts in the mainstream, the more likely it is that people will push the edges of the genre as well, finding ways to create something that you will love more than you thought possible.

– Andrew Mayer
www.andrewpmayer.com

twitter: @andrewmayer

facebook: www.facebook.com/societyofsteam

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First off, we’re going to give away a copy of Saundra Mitchell’s The Vespertine. 

Shannon

Shannon, you are our winner.  Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.  Didn’t win?  You can still win a bunch of things, like books by Mark Hodder,  a bag of swag from RT and The Vampire Dimitri.

Today we have another great Pyr author, Andrew Mayer, author of The Falling Machine.  We’ll be giving away four copies of his book!

The Falling Machine: The Society of Steam, Book One by Andrew Mayer

In 1880 women aren’t allowed to vote, much less dress up in a costume and fight crime…

But twenty-year-old socialite Sarah Stanton still dreams of becoming a hero. Her opportunity arrives in tragedy when the leader of the Society of Paragons, New York’s greatest team of gentlemen adventurers, is murdered right before her eyes. To uncover the truth behind the assassination, Sarah joins forces with the amazing mechanical man known as The Automaton. Together they unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the Paragons that reveals the world of heroes and high-society is built on a crumbling foundation of greed and lies. When Sarah comes face to face with the megalomaniacal villain behind the murder, she must discover if she has the courage to sacrifice her life of privilege and save her clockwork friend.

The Falling Machine (The Society of Steam, Book One) takes place in a Victorian New York powered by the discovery of Fortified Steam, a substance that allows ordinary men to wield extraordinary abilities, and grant powers that can corrupt gentlemen of great moral strength. The secret behind this amazing substance is something that wicked brutes will gladly kill for and one that Sarah must try and protect, no matter what the cost.

When he’s not crafting stories, Andrew Mayer works as a video-game designer and digital entertainment consultant. He has created numerous new concepts, characters, and worlds, including the original Dogz and Catz digital pets. Andrew calls Portland, Oregon, home (although he’s been traveling a lot lately). You can find his musings on writing and media at www.andrewpmayer.com. This is his first novel.

The Writing Process by Andrew Mayer

If, back when I first started writing, someone had told me that my first published novel was going to be a Victorian era adventure about a girl and a mechanical man, I would have thought that they were nuts. I was, after all, going to be a Science Fiction Writer™. There was nothing I wanted to do more than tell amazing stories about spaceships, aliens, and far-away worlds that took place in humanity’s glorious future of unlimited galactic conquest. I was certainly wouldn’t been interested in becoming mired in some fantastical age of steam based on the past.

And my complaints wouldn’t have just been about the setting—writing pseudo-historical fiction is hard. You don’t just make things up, you have to look them up as well. And at some point in the process you find yourself researching details that can simply be invented in a story of the far future. You need to figure out the little things, like how people cleaned their teeth in 1880, the finer points of Victorian home heating systems, and whether or not the term gangster was actually used before the turn of the century.*

But right or wrong, easy or hard, I discovered that the story in my head that needed telling was a steampunk story. And I set about trying to write it.

Soon after starting I realized that I actually kind of liked researching things. There’s a great feeling that comes when you find the answer you’re looking for, whether it’s buried deep in the internet, or hidden in the pages of a dusty library book. And after a few months of uncovering these hidden historical gems, I discovered that that I’d done so much spelunking in the past that I either already knew the answers, or I knew exactly where to look.

Part of the skill of writing is accepting that motivation can come from the strangest places. Because starting a novel is easy, but to finish one you need to find a story that excites you enough to get your butt into the writing chair for the days, weeks, months, and years that it takes to drag your story from the first character description to final copy edit. You have to feel the passion for your fiction, and it’s that love that keeps pushing you to keep hitting the keys long after you’ve lost any sense of perspective, and to write some more after you’ve gained it back again. And it was as I wrote this story I discovered that I had a true passion for the Steampunk genre. And I wanted to not just tell a ripping tale, but also to try and write the kind of book that would infect people with my growing love for the genre.

And as I read the reviews for the book I’ve written I’m less concerned with whether someone “likes” it or not (although people who like it are nice) than discovering if I’ve managed to communicate my passion to the reader. And if I have, even just a little bit, it gives me the fuel to back and do it again. And the aliens will just have to wait a little longer…

* Europeans did use boar’s bristle toothbrushes in 1880, but brushing didn’t take off in American until around 1885.
Central heating was popular in wealthy Victorian homes because they believed still air caused diseases.
Gangster is a perfectly fine word for the period, although it still doesn’t sound quite right to me.

~Andrew Mayer

www.andrewpmayer.com

What has been the strangest (or most difficult) thing you’ve had (or wanted) to research?  We have four copies of The Falling Machine (The Society of Steam, Book One) to give away to four lucky commenters.  You’ll have to wait to recieve your prize until May, but it’s open internationally.

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