Thursday, June 7, 2012

More Steampunk!

So you may have noticed more content concerning steampunk in the last few days.  Last Monday's Weekly Update had two news stories featuring steampunk and tomorrow I will be posting my interview with Doctor Quincy E. Quartermain.  This is the start of my greater coverage of steampunk, a genre that shares a lot in common with alternate history.

For those who do not know, steampunk (according to Wikipedia) is "a genre which originated during the 1980s and early 1990s and incorporates elements of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, horror, and speculative fiction. It involves a setting where steam power is widely used—whether in an alternate history such as Victorian era Britain or "Wild West"-era United States, or in a post-apocalyptic time —that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology, or futuristic innovations as Victorians might have envisioned them, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art."

While the definition given by the ultimate source of modern knowledge seems to suggest that steampunk and alternate history are separate genres, one could argue that the modern steampunk movement began with the publication of the alternate history novel The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.  The  work helped create a widespread awareness of the series despite the efforts of the works that came before it.  Nevertheless steampunk has evolved to the point that not every work set in the genre can be classified as an alternate history.  Some are truly fantasies, like Land of Hope and Glory by Geoffrey Wilson (who I should be publishing an interview with next week) and the steampunk novella I recently read called "The 19 Dragons" where the world is flat and held up by 19 pillars, each pillar standing only because its corresponding dragon/god continues to live in and resurrect new human host bodies.

Weird, I know, but that is one of the reasons why I like steampunk.  Alien space bats are not always summoned using high tech.  Sometimes you need to reach back into the past to find them and there is probably no greater period to search for them then the 19th century.  The British Empire was at its height, the German Empire was founded, the Industrial Revolution had begun, Japan was modernizing, railroads were introduced, cities grew to tremendous sizes...an amazing period of history indeed.  I tried to capture some of that wonder in my own steampunk story, "The Enchanted Bean", due out next year in Once Upon a Clockwork Tale by Echelon Press.

So if you have articles you want to see, stories you want covered or books you want me to review, contact me at ahwupdate at gmail dot com.  In the meantime you can look forward to the next review from my reading list, Broken Souls Volume I by Alex Davidson who was kind enough to send me a review copy.  Broken Souls Volume I is the first volume in what is to be a serialized novel.  Here is the description from Amazon:

Icarus and Kay are Steamworkers. To put it simply, they make sure the city they live in has power by taking care of the steam generators. However, there is another: Donna. She appeared out of nowhere, and nobody knows why. So, for the past three years, Icarus and Kay have been spending their free time figuring out who she is.

Then, on the night of their first breakthrough, she disappears. This launches the two of them into a mystery that they must solve, and which they must not tell anybody about, or it could get them killed.

In the first volume of this serialized novel, the boundaries of steampunk have changed in this world where not even the rich have cars, the Holocaust never happened, and a single dictator rules the world.

Will it be worth the read?  You will just have to wait for the review.  In the meantime, enjoy the increased steampunk content.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a volunteer editor for the Alt Hist magazine and a contributor to Just Below the Law. One of his short stories will be published in the upcoming Echelon Press anthology, Once Upon a Clockwork Tale (2013). When not writing he works as an attorney in the state of Illinois and enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana.

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