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Category Archives: Steampunk

Cover of Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng. Purple cover with Queen Mab central. There’s been a bit of a theme in the books I’ve been reading recently. All have been set in or around the Victorian era.

Jeanette Ng’s Under the Pendulum Sun is an absorbing Gothic Fantasy, capturing the feel of Stoker and Bronte. Highly recommended, and you can find the rest of my review on SFFWorld.

Cover of One Cog Turning by Anthony Laken. Main colour deep blue with golden/copper cogs featured in each corner.Anthony Laken’s One Cog Turning is a fab, true to form Steampunk adventure with all the lovable rogues you’d want to find, yet with a delicious twist. Click to read my review on SFFWORLD.

There I am unpacking the car with the various props and costume extras required for a family of four when I realise I’m being studiously observed by a wary local. These locals are a delightful thing and rare in the Cathedral quarter at this time of year in Lincoln. Usually well mannered, most prefer the part of town found at the bottom of Steep Hill.

The good man is polite as he asks the reasons for the costumes and I in turn endeavour to explain. ‘The Question.’* His reply?

“You do realise, most people will think that the crazies have come to town.”

Yes I do. I know. I often wonder why I spend so much time and effort on something I only wear for a day or two.

You know, like a wedding dress?

This dress won’t stand out in the crowd this weekend but it would have drawn all the attention in York seven days ago. This particular outfit I’ve worn more times than my wedding dress, the attire grows and develops each year.  Most parts of it have some story behind it, a provenance if you will, the dress is a collection of memories and reasons. It’s just as gorgeous, if not as expensive, as the white thing of flouncy lace and bustle we saved up for. Granted a little more relaxed, draws less of the camera attention compared to other Steampunk followers. That’s OK.

I hate cameras, but they are everywhere, generally speaking I’ll go for comfort over fashion, and function over trend, suffering pretend whalebone poking in my ribcage isn’t one of those things.

So why do I do this thing each year?

Why? Why do 2000 or more people dress from past times, suffer corsets and woollen waist coats regardless of the heat? Is it a celebration of literature? Jules Vern, H G Wells, most people have heard of , but William Gibson & Bruce Sterling? They’re a little more niche. What does a sparkling unicorn have to do with those novels? Cat ears? It’s not just a weird thing English people to old for cosplay or too vanilla to be goth do. Nope. Anime, gaming, graphic novels, books are all ‘cogtastic’ across the globe. There are some that try to dodge the label, or make it something else. Some Alternative History could at times be branded Steampunk. Does it matter?

You’ve seen Wild, Wild West, perhaps? There were plenty of ‘western’ clad folk, a turban or two, top hats everywhere, and of course a liberal dose of goggles.

Ideas, what ifs, and if onlys walk the streets, exploring the bars and hotels. The brass, the steam and the not brass or steam from a century that hasn’t yet come to pass. The creativity that slowly works its way through the town is always a marvel to witness. The fascination of being able to see working clockwork inventions up close. A weekend of “Look! I made this.”?

Is it the lack of judgement on how you personally evoke the steampunk vibe? The inclusivity? The idea of ‘Be Splendid.’? Is this what happens when you take away a game designer’s iPad?

I suppose it is all of these things. The diversity of the genre. So much interpretation in one place. So much history, so much future.

The Weekend at the Asylum has grown so much, to the point where many turn up in Lincoln just to see the outfits without paying for a wristband. Of course, that way you don’t get to see all the fun stuff behind the castle walls and tucked away in venues that aren’t too eager to cash in.

The genre has grown too. This isn’t the first time there have been author signings. Toby Frost, Jonathan Green, Kit Cox, Raven Dane and Sam Brown are regulars and well established in their field, but now bigger publishers are beginning to see a potential route to market here, understandably.  Hendricks Gin’s presence was a fabulous addition too. Of course The Asylum wouldn’t be The Asylum without such frivolities as The Wacky Races, Tea Duelling, Illicit Market, Bazaar Eclectica, Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and numerous evening events that, believe it or not, I have yet to attend.

Call it crazy if you like. Some people don’t want be grown up all the time. Some people are happy to bring to life a little bit of the past, some will re-enact the lifestyle of a Georgian, or bring to life the World War Two trenches. Others will become Romans for the day. Steampunks are re-inventing their world how they imagine it might have been if…

Life is fun if you let it be, it can inspire others, and some fun can only be (wo)man made.

I suspect will sell out twice as fast next year, so buy early. While you can.

*’The Question’ is put to everyone  who has anything at all to do with, created within or touched upon steampunk.  “What is steampunk?” It is as much ‘steampunk’ as the goggles are.

How do I know I’m done with the book?

That question is one that wouldn’t go away. Is it finished? Is it ready for eyes other than my bloodshot, caffeine reinforced vision? Should there be this? What if my second chapter doesn’t work? How about I muck around on the net more? (SpikedMcgrath.com has a lot to answer for, even if there is a weakness in the ship design I forgive you.) These questions follow on the tail of That question.

airshipbattle

Tom Mcgrath’s Airship Battle (c) 2010

The more you exist in their world as opposed to living in the world where you need to remember to feed the family, or perhaps sleep, the more real it all becomes and the more That opposite reality intrudes.

Arrrgh. The path to insanity right here!

Yesterday, the questions stopped. I had answers for those what ifs, buts and maybes.

Like A Virgin Pitch Contest

Pitch Contest.

Partly, already, I owe this to the Like a Virgin Pitch Contest I’m involved in. Partly due to the feedback from assignments. Partly because I know the story I want to tell. Possibly because I have mucked about on the net so much looking at pretty pictures. (This I very much doubt…)

Confidence is a wonderful thing. Yes I’m still editing, still tweaking, ironing (housework has resumed its claim on me so that’s another promising sign.) out the creases.

Wait…
Did I just put promising and housework in the same sentence? *shudder*

There are some scenes to be added, and more to come from my ‘test subject’. Of course there is still some polishing to be done, the rosewood must gleam, the cobwebs of doubt must be banished, and the cogs of plot made to churn smoothly ready for visitors.

But The First Book, my first book, is done.
All I have to do is write…

THE END.
Soon…(A writers work is never done.)