Steampunk according to Michael Butcher

Michael Butcher is also being published in the Fantasist this month. He says he writes fantasy stories somewhere in the blasted wastelands of Western Australia and that he’s bee successfully avoiding roaming packs of raiders, but I think we all know better. He’s leading those damned packs which is why I’m afraid to Americanize his spelling.


According to Mike:

Although I don’t consider myself a steampunk writer, I enjoy the potential for storytelling the genre provides. It’s a genre that revels in the idea of exploring new frontiers of the physical world and of science, and perhaps magic. For readers, it may be a sort of interest in history, of alternate timelines or simply the aesthetic. It’s a genre that can perfectly blend fantasy and science fiction with a strong spirit of adventure. I can see why it is so popular.

Steampunk is an aspect of the retro-futurism art movement, a movement that basically imagines how certain eras of the past might imagine their own future. In steampunk’s case, typically the future with a distinctly Victorian or Edwardian flavour. The genre is ripe for criticising the class distinctions of the era along with unethical scientific endeavors and the hubris of inventors, entrepreneurs, “captains of industry” etc. Frankenstein could be considered a precursor to Steampunk because of the way Mary Shelley worked fantastical science fiction elements into a cautionary tale of arrogance in a world where advances in science seemingly make everything possible. Also there’s lots of gas powered lamps and steam powered everythings.

One of steampunk’s primary real-life influences was the industrial revolution, a period of growth and possibility but also of wealth inequality and labour exploitation. I can’t help but imagine that underneath a glittering, marvelous, steam-powered metropolis, there wouldn’t be a vastly exploited working class. I think that tension is one of the more appealing aspects of steampunk, or retro-futurism as a whole concept. For me, there’s a cautionary aspect to it, a just-cos’-you-could warning about pushing the limits of science into the unknown and what horrible things that might reveal to us.

A steampunk city is a city built on the idea of limitless potential, the underlying feeling that it could collapse into a dystopic nightmare at just the right push is one of my favourite things about it, and it is what I will enjoy writing about the most as I continue to tell more tales in this world I’m building with this work!

The Thief’s Darling is a novella I started writing late in 2017. I didn’t actually set out to write a steampunk story.

[L.J. exclaims on first read: What! But it has gas lamps? It’s totally steampunk.]

Originally, it was going to be much more of a classical fantasy setting, with the weird science aspects replaced with more traditional, occult magic shtick, but I was doing quite a lot of research into the practices of alchemists in preparation for the writing process and was really interested in alchemy, in the early modern period, as a precursor to modern day chemistry and the effects it had on science as a whole. Also, I do like the aesthetic of gas lamps.

It is the story of five sisters who are master alchemists living in the run-down town of Wadlock, a once vibrant place that has fallen on hard times. The sisters, led by Enith, are attempting to create the perfect man by distilling the essence of romance novels down and transmuting them into a man who is sort of the amalgamation of a whole range of pulp romance novel “hunks”. His name is Troy.

[L.J.: As someone who writes these romance novels, I am all about this premise. But if we get this technology IRL, I think we have to name him “Chris” because of the inordinate amount of sexy Chrises.]

Most of the sisters are partaking in the project for a laugh and to spend time together, but it certainly seems to mean something entirely different for Enith.

They have hired a thief, a young woman named Cady “Nine-Lives”, a scrappy sort of sixteen-year-old who is trying to pull together enough money to skip town. One night, during a raid on the local library, she runs afoul of the librarian, an old man with an affinity for classic romance novels who also hides a bloody and tragic past. Cady accidentally burns down the library which puts her life and the life of Troy into jeopardy.

My intention was to create a story that subverts the reader’s expectations. There seems to be a sort of culture of disdain surrounding women who read romance novels (or just anything women enjoy en masse).

[L.J.: you said it, brother!]

Most of the story is told through the eyes of Cady, a teenager who carries that same disdain, and so she tends to view the sisters as “gross” or “wrong” for their reading habits, but as we explore the character of the sisters more, it is suggested that not only do some find a sense of comfort in reading and appreciating romantic fiction, but also find good-natured community and sisterly  bonding.

You can find Michael’s story here.

 


The Fantasist is a quarterly online magazine that publishes three original Fantasy novellas on the third Thursday of every third month.

And this month, while they celebrate Steampunk, one of them is mine!

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Support these guys. They have good stories for free.

 

Images from the Past: Completely Inaccurate Images from the 1800s

So, I said before the Victorians had some interesting ideas about what the future would bring.  Here’s some of the ones that really missed the mark:

15-future

So not only were we supposed to have hover-boards by 2000, we were supposed to be walking on water with the aid of balloons, weird shoes, and… a unicycle.

800px-France_in_XXI_Century._Air_cab

Seconds before a futuristic collision. Still less wait time than the Path.

800px-France_in_XXI_Century._Air_postman

Here’s another flying machine. That apparently hovers while the exceptionally well-dressed rural person greets his mailman.

1024px-France_in_XXI_Century._Race_in_Pacific

I love this image, because conquering the depths is not complete until we can gamble underwater.

800px-France_in_XXI_Century._Fishing

I love this image because … I have no idea what they are doing.

 


The Fantasist is a quarterly online magazine that publishes three original Fantasy novellas on the third Thursday of every third month.

And this month, while they celebrate Steampunk, one of them is mine!

cropped-The-Fantasist-Logo-192x192
Support these guys. They have good stories for free.

Advice for Writing a Steampunk World: Part 2 Implementation

So, you’ve got the background blue-prints to your Steampunk world, now how do you put that to use while building a story with characters and plot?

If you’re an outliner, you may be struggling with the amount of details you have to find a place for. If you’re a discovery writer, you may have already written the story and be trimming down on the info dumps and useless bits of the world.

One of the weirdest things about The Scribbling Windhund is the point of view. Since the story is told by the machine, it exists somewhere between an epistolary work, a play, and the diary of a fashion critic. So, I had an interesting task in building the world without the use of large descriptive paragraphs (except when Otto gets effusive in his drafts).

 

Here’s my advice:

Determine what information about the world is most necessary to develop the plot and characters…

As the creator of the world, I know that Prussians have a list of names approved by the state that parents must use. I know that households are given financial incentives not only to have children but to have children who win awards and honors. I know that there’s a garden inside Prussia where every flower is artificially created to be perfectly symmetrical.

But none of that made it into the story. It filtered my experience of the world and informed how I wrote Otto, especially, but I couldn’t find a place to fit it while I was writing. So, I didn’t try to force it into the story. I remember I had to cut a section I particularly liked where Karl was looking down at the city and could see the garden and Otto told him about the perfect shape of the flowers. There’s was about five pages and it was acting as a fun metaphor for the culling of living things (like people) in the name of perfection, but really it wasn’t adding to the plot or the characters so I took it out.

 

And when to reveal it:

If you try to tell everything about the world on the first page, there will be no room for them to get attached to the character or story and in the end. I might feel like a textbook about the world. So, figure out when a technology or law gets revealed organically (then make sure it’s consistently applied even before the reader knows about it).

For example, Otto doesn’t mention the constant surveillance of the military, or the banning of imported alcohol, or the monitoring of sexual behaviors until later in the story. But he always behaves as someone who lives in that world and is particularly careful about what he says to and about the military.

 

Hide information dumps by building character and tension around them

I feel like this is a dirty trick, but it’s so useful. Whenever I have to get information about the world to the reader, I try to imagine how I would have learned about it explicitly in the world. I’m not afraid of character’s thinking back to school lessons, mother’s lectures, or the like.

I got to really cheat once or twice in this story, because the main character writes for a newspaper and takes the opportunity to educate children about something that happened in the past. Since the story is set up the way it is, I was able to include the actual newspaper story and the character’s interpretation of the event. Karl does his share of educating as well, but it comes paired with either an actual disagreement he’s having with Otto or with a personal disagreement with himself. So there’s always two or three things happening while the reader is learning about the world.

 


The Fantasist is a quarterly online magazine that publishes three original Fantasy novellas on the third Thursday of every third month.

And this month, while they celebrate Steampunk, one of them is mine!

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Support these guys. They have good stories for free.

FOR LOVE THE BELL TOLLS: What’s Next?

Gonna take a break from the Steampunk for a hot second to take part in a blog tour for my buddies over at Stars and Stone Books.


FOR LOVE THE BELL TOLLS

A Gothic Romance Short Story Anthology

Stars and Stone Books

For Love the Bell Tolls Cover

 

 

Featuring:

Cara McKinnon, Sheri Queen, Read Gallo, Serena Jayne, Kylie Weisenborn, and Heather heldon.

 

 Cara McKinnon – “The Doors Between”

Can love overcome an otherworldly evil?

Sheri Queen – “The Circus Train”

Finding love isn’t easy, especially when someone wants your blood.

Read Gallo – “Blood and Petals”

How much would you change to get what you want?

Serena Jayne – “Kiss Me Dead”

With only the light of their love, Simon and Lila attempt to conquer darkness and death.

Kylie Weisenborn – “Undead Men”
When the dead become unburied, so does the truth.

Heather Sheldon – “Lost Love Found”
A haunted gift flips Mandy’s world on end, and her handsome new neighbor might be her only salvation.

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR AUTHORS

What’s Next For For Love the Bell Tolls‘s authors

We asked the For Love the Bell Tolls authors what’s coming next for them in their writing careers.

 Read Gallo – “Blood and Petals”

I’m currently seeking an agent for a very large fantasy novel called Witch, Ghost, Dog, Clone and entering short story competitions.

Serena Jayne – “Kiss Me Dead”

I have a poem in the fall 2018 issue of the Oddville Press. In November, I have a crime/noir story coming out in Switchblade Magazine’s Stiletto Heeled anthology. I’m currently working on several horror short stories as well as a romance for a Stars and Stone Books anthology to be published in 2019.

Cara McKinnon – “The Doors Between”

I really, really, really, really need to finish the fourth book in my historical fantasy romance series. Ideally that will be finished and out in early 2019. Then I’m giving that series a bit of a rest and will be starting a paranormal romance series based on the short story I wrote for the Stars and Stone Books summer anthology this year (2018), Born to Love Wild.

Sheri Queen – “The Circus Train”

Two things: I am buried in research, which I love, for book 3 of my Sleepy Hollow Hunter series. The writing is coming along and I hope to get it out in the next month or two.

The other project I’m excited about is a new series set in a steampunk/gaslight environment and features some very clever women sleuths. I’m also creating mini-dolls of the characters that I’m selling at my craft shows/steampunk shows this year. The series will be out in early 2019.

Heather Sheldon – “Lost Love Found”

I’m currently editing a zombie series.

Kylie Weisenborn – “Undead Men”

My thesis project is a novel tentatively titled Just Breathe. The plan is to sell and get it published upon graduation in January. I’m also looking forward to participating in some other Stars and Stone Books anthologies next year.

 

STARS AND STONE BOOKS: http://starsandstonebooks.com/

GOODREADS: http://bit.ly/2Emfv2B

FACEBOOK RELEASE PARTY 10/30/18: http://bit.ly/2CN0Ig1
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/starsstonebooks

ANTHOLOGY WEBSITE: http://starsandstonebooks.com/for-love-the-bell-tolls

The anthology authors will be answering more questions on this blog tour! To check out all of the stops, visit: https://www.starsandstonebooks.com/blog-tour.

Steampunk according to Van Essler

I met Van at Seton Hill where we instantly clicked and became intellectual lovers, which is like real lovers, but without the sex. Or the knowing each other very well. Okay, mostly we just get excited by the same things. Which is basically the same as being in love.


Van

Van Essler is a yoga junkie with a tarot collection who makes friends with her dreams, whether they are sweet reveries or nightmares. She won the Founder’s Award from the Professional Writers of Prescott for fiction and has publications in Story Emporium Magazine, Zimbell house anthologies, and Z-composition.

 

Her story “Chasing the Eleusinian” is a play on the girl pretending to be a cabin boy trope only it happens on an airship with some steampunked Greek mythology flair.

According to Van:

Jess Nevins once said “Steampunk is what happens when goths discover brown” and I am that goth.

I have always been fascinated by the Victorian era. The period’s corsets and etiquette in a sharp contrast to harsh realities of the Industrial Revolution had an irresistible allure. I discovered Bram Stoker’s Dracula at thirteen, and immediately dove into research of anything Victorian and dark, from Jack the Ripper to arsenic green dye.

About ten years ago, I read my first steampunk in the way of short fiction in an online zine. I was instantly sucked in by the Victorian aesthetic, but even more entranced with how the authors used the steam technology in the stories. Inspiration struck, and I just had to write the Steampunk stories that flooded my head. It was kismet.

My top five Steampunk influences are:

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest – a mesmerizing steampunk novel featuring a strong female protagonists and zombies in early Seattle.

Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeves – Seriously, cities eating cities. What else can I say but I love the whole concept of this novel.

Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina – An amazing tale with a smart and strong female protagonist utilizing her inventive skills in the mean streets of London.

The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling – An exploration into an alternative Victorian world where the computer has been invented, complete with mystery/thriller fast paced plot.

Howls Moving Castle directed by Hayao Miyazaki – A brilliant film that mixes a Steampunk Edwardian aesthetic with witches and sorcerers. If you have kids, this is a great one to cuddle up on the couch and watch with them.

[Behind the scenes, L.J. says: Damn it, that counts? I want Howl’s on my list too. That’s a great film.

Van: It should be on your list! I love that movie on so many levels. It really shows how versatile the genre can be.

L.J.: But I published my list last week…

Van: But isn’t this like three weeks in advance.

L.J.: …

Van: …

L.J.: Anyways, what the Hell is Steampunk?]

 

As a formal definition, I would say that Steampunk is speculative fiction set in Victorian or Edwardian periods, often alternative versions on those times, that reflect the values and challenges of those eras. Typically, the steam technology of the time period is changed to retro-futuristic imaginings or there are variations to the recorded timeline with alternative historical events. Steampunk has also morphed into an aesthetic—a sort of vibe or style that can apply to any story. If it has brass goggles and airships, more than likely it will be considered steampunk.

I feel that so much of the Victorian time period mirrors today’s society; both eras had rapid jumps in technology that drastically alter their culture. Steampunk speaks to me as a writer as a way to explore our current world by pulling from that rich history. Also, the amount of delightful world-building and researching I get to embark on is a perk.

[L.J.: Perk for you, torture for me, lady. You can keep it.

Van: C’mon, you know you can’t resist the research rabbit hole.

L.J.: I can and I will.

Van: Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.

L.J.: *Mutters and growls with incoherent annoyance, then returns to research Prussian wigs.*]

Steampunk resonates with audiences on a nostalgic level as well as feeling aligned with our current world. There’s something so appealing about a past we feel a part of and yet have never seen. I also think that much of the steam-powered technology of Steampunk feels more human in a sense. Cogs and gears assembled to run a device seem far more accessible to us than motherboards and microchips. We can create and put together the parts of Steampunk, while the overly sleek and perfect technology of today is beyond the capabilities of our own hands.

The conflicts of the Victorian era are ripe to twist and bend into bleak societies.  Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines has cities literally eating each other for survival, which feels ten shades of dystopic from the first line. Of course, I probably notice the more dystopian works within the subgenre due to my preference of darker themed fiction.
I’ve never been the utopic type of storyteller. I’m always far more interested in characters that face obstacles not only on a personal level, but must overcome the hand dealt to them by the world they live in. I’m sure others would argue they prefer to focus on an individual’s struggle in a society that runs pretty much like clockwork (pun intended), and they should. The more variation we can creatively explore, the better. As for me, I’ll keep to the shadows.

Which is why my most recent Steampunk story “Chasing the Eleusinian” is a little dark. It’s a short story mixing airships with a bit of Greek Mythology. Sam, a girl disguised as a cabin boy aboard The Dire Crimson, sails the skies in search of the legendary Eleusinian ship run with automations. But if she can’t keep her gender concealed from the misogynist first mate, her sky faring days will abruptly end.

 

You can find Van’s story here.

 


The Fantasist is a quarterly online magazine that publishes three original Fantasy novellas on the third Thursday of every third month.

And this month, while they celebrate Steampunk, one of them is mine!

cropped-The-Fantasist-Logo-192x192
Support these guys. They have good stories for free.

 

Advice for Writing a Steampunk World: Part 1 Development

This is my 100th post.

Which is cool. And because that’s cool, I wanted to make sure it was a good post so I’m writing about something I’m really pretty passionate about – building a good world. And I’m going to make it about Steampunk, because having your 100 post is not a good reason to break-up a theme.

There are a couple ways to start building a world. Maybe you have a premise for the whole world. Maybe you have a specific character problem that relies on a certain cultural restraint. Maybe you have a contest offering money for a Steampunk novella and you need to craft a non-Victorian Steampunk.

Either way, you need to grow that kernel of an idea into an entire populated world. I can’t tell which saddens me more, would-be writers with incredibly detailed worlds and no characters or plots to live there or would-be writers with a world just like ours except for one weird quirk that only seems to exist to inconvenience the really well-crafted protagonist.

 

Starting with a concept and filling in the story.

For me, this is the easier of the two starts. I can always find a character to play in a world. But here’s some questions to ask to flesh out a world and find the forces your characters are going to be fighting against.

  • Who takes out the trash? Enforces the laws? Takes care of the children?
  • What are the society’s ideals? Tell the story of a person in conflict with them.
  • Who does this society “other”?
  • Consider basic story types.  I think Seven Plots is limiting yourself and I, of course, would add Romance to the list, but there are worse places to start than the seven basic plots. How can one of those plots work well into your world.

I’ll answer these questions for The Scribbling Windhund. I wanted a Steampunk version of Fredrick the Great’s Prussia. So, I started by researching about this time period in German history and by researching the man himself. My man, Fritz, was a benevolent dictator, almost certainly gay, and obsessed with the ideals of the Enlightenment, service to state before self, and a military genius. His legacy has been a bit muddied in America (Hitler compared himself to Frederick the Great), but I wondered what his ideal society would look like with more modern technology.

So, the concept for my Prussia became a society of people who prized the work of artists, craftsmen, and thinkers, who idolized their military, and who strongly believed in service to the state above self.

People who prized these ideals so much, that they build a city on top of their old city dedicated to their ideals.

I knew this world would be a very pretty place, with gardens and art on every building. There would be intellectual salons, state-sponsored concerts. Basically, a society built around high-brow arts. The restaurants would all run by people who were passionate about food. Every architect would be a visionary. Everyone who wanted to grow up and be an artist, or a writer, or a singer would have an outlet (that wasn’t the internet).

So, who enforces the laws?

Obviously, a strong military. Who takes out the trash and takes care of the kids was harder. Since artistic and intellectual types are incapable of tending to demeaning labor like doing their own laundry and changing diapers, someone else had to do it. But if all education was designed to create artists and philosophers… maybe the military would have to force them to do it.

This took me down a weird 1984 path. Where I started to ask what would happen to the non-artistic and I realized their only place in society would be the military protecting the artists, or in the service industry taking care of the artists. I decided to combine them, so that this sectors military is enormous—over half of the population. The people who take out the trash are soldiers. The ones who repair the roads? Soldiers. The lady behind the counter at the DMV? A soldier. The person doing your taxes. Actually, I’ve met accountants that are very passionate about money, that’s probably an artist’s specialization.

Growing the military to this size made for an interesting twist on this Artist’s Utopia. Would I live in a place that paid me to write, if I was constantly monitored by the military? I don’t think I would.

Which brings me to…

Who is not in line with the society’s ideals?

Since Prussia is a society build around service to the state, idolization of the principles of Enlightenment and arts, someone who doesn’t trust the military-state would be on the outs. Also someone one who either wasn’t an artist, or for some reason had been excluded from the society.

This character became Karl, my terrorist. The champion of the poor, the ugly, the uneducated, and those left behind and erased from history when this perfect society was created. While being a master craftsman himself, Karl knew too many people who did not possess these talents who had been overlooked when the society built itself.

Who is othered?

I cheated on this one, because I decided to make Prussia a conservative country as well and reflect some problematic beliefs about what the ideal family looked like. This led to second-class citizens, people who had mental, physical, or emotional limitations and needed special protection from the government. Religious zealotry (i.e. any worship) and homosexuality fell into this category.

I liked the idea of making second-class citizens, people who weren’t ostracized so much as limited. They needed to be protected from the harm they do to themselves and can’t be put in positions where their limitation might affect their judgement. It gets creepy.

But this idea brought me to my second character, the everyday average man in this society. Otto, a good Prussian boy, who believes in his sector’s military, his own sexual limitations, and the superiority of this system… until he meets the terrorist.

 

Starting with a character and filling in the story.

It’s a littler harder to build a world around a character with a cultural restraint/element. The trouble really comes from having a great idea that relies on one aspect of the character being persecuted. It can make the world seem unfairly biased against the character and ultimately unrealistic.

Here’s the questions to ask about the cultural restraint/element.

  • Could this kind of cultural restraint/element exist in the real world? How is it treated and what are you saying by placing it in this context?
  • How do true-believers in this restraint/element view it? If the justification sounds evil or unlikely, then chances are you need to think more about this element.
  • What other aspects of the society would be affected by the restraint/element? For example, if your element is that your character has a steam-powered airship, what else is the society doing with that technology?
  • Who is in charge of this restraint/element (who created it)?

I could cheat again and talk about Otto’s homosexuality and how Prussia monitors and restricts him because of it, how I based it off of conservative communities in real life and the logical conclusion of enforcing anti-sodomy laws, and how the authorities in Prussia view homosexuality as dangerous to the individual…

But, I’m going to focus on the actually technology instead.

There are two big technological element I created for this story. The Environmental Dome and the DikTak. Both of them are vital to the story, but the dome exists in a vacuum I had to explain away.

So the character premise was: a terrorist escapes a prison by sneaking parts off an unobtrusive clock-work machine and using it to remove the environmental dome that’s been keeping all his friend imprisoned underneath the current city.

I’ll start with the DikTak. This is a simple clockwork automaton that functions as a note-taking machine because it can record what it ‘hears’ and ‘sees.’ Since I wanted the DikTak as the narrator of the story, it needed to be able to ‘see’ which is fairly advanced (it only sort of exists in real life). However, it had to be unremarkable enough to be allowed into a prison, which meant Prussia had to have not only clock-work devises by extraordinarily complex ones or else they would need to remark on how weird the DikTak was.

I could have left the DikTak as the solitary technological advancement (since its an invention of local genius, Karl Schneider), but I thought it would feel more organic in a world filled with other advancements. So, Otto mentions it casually like an advanced watch or toy. The characters don’t react to the machine like it’s extraordinary. There’s other technology like it. We see a clock-work telegraph machine in action and Otto draws attention to another piece of clockwork that is even more advanced. The clockwork in the prison-tower.

So that’s how the technology effects of the aspects of the world. If I got out of the DikTak’s narration, I would show other elements of Prussian life, which probably include clockwork sidewalks and staircases. It was created fairly recently since Karl’s designed are still used by clock-work re-creationists, but it’s entered enough into daily use for a little mechanical dog to not be notably out of place.

The second big piece of tech I had was the environment domes. So far this doesn’t exist in the real world, though as a metaphor for a strict border I was saying some pretty interesting things by keeping it impermeable and having the government forcing people to remain trapped inside it.

This had to be a complicated and not easily understood technology (it takes my genius a decade to break it). If it was a simple technology that was widely understood, then the people in the Undercity would be able to fabricate their own and certain plot elements would fall apart.

So it sounds pretty evil, which meant I had to take some time to ensure that the readers saw why it was necessary. Life without the dome is impossible because the environment is unlivable outside of them. Yup, I might be saying something with those domes…

Because the domes are complex, they are not widely used in society. There’s no thunderstorm rooms, or snow-filled parks—at least not in Prussia.

And of course, in Prussia the military controls the dome. Until, of course, they don’t…

 

 


The Fantasist is a quarterly online magazine that publishes three original Fantasy novellas on the third Thursday of every third month.

And this month, while they celebrate Steampunk, one of them is mine!

cropped-The-Fantasist-Logo-192x192
Support these guys. They have good stories for free.

Images from the Past: Weirdly Accurate Images from the 1800s

I love it when Science Fiction manages to predict the future. The seashells in your ears from Bradbury’s  Fahrenheit 451.  Assimov’s Robotic laws forming the basis to real life robot training. Religious Zealots taking over the country like in The Handmaidens Tale…okay I don’t like that one so much.

Anyways, the Victorians had some interesting ideas about what the future would bring that make it easier to add flavor to a Steampunk world.  Here’s some of the ones that came true

original

I know it’s not technically a roomba, but it does the same thing.  It’s very telling that even with a machine to do the work, the Victorians still assumed we’d have household servants.

Skype imagined over 100 years ago

In my filthy, little mind, this is a sex hotline. She’s about to show some ankle and the operator is just like, “oh, not this foot fantasy again…”

18-future

I want benches on the moving sidewalks in airports.  I mean, I also want a suave mustache and a fancy half-cape, but  this is such an improvement on the modern design!

20-future

Their are few things more modern than going out for drinks with a friend and then ignoring that friend to look at pictures of babies and male models. I also love that the woman is red is smoking a blunt and there’s some kind of weird space car in the background.  The predicted cars and legalization, folks!

cycling-vr-1896--dyn--fullviewsize

The only thing unrealistic about a machine that combines stationary bicycling and virtual reality goggles is that the owner is actually using it for exercise and not as a clothes rack.


The Fantasist is a quarterly online magazine that publishes three original Fantasy novellas on the third Thursday of every third month.

And this month, while they celebrate Steampunk, one of them is mine!

cropped-The-Fantasist-Logo-192x192
Support these guys. They have good stories for free.

Images from the Past: The Future from the 1800s

 

These three images directly inspired some aspects of my world.

The first two are moving houses. The black and white one is actually the cover of an early speculative fiction novel.  The other is a post card of an entire town being moved someplace. I’m not sure if its meant to be unloaded or just in constant motion, but the idea of taking a city apart building by building and moving it elsewhere, probably without the unwanted parts of the city, really got my gears turning.

 

This bad boy has been on my computer since the early days of the internet.

17-future

One of the hallmarks of my sectoral universe is the environmental domes. They feature briefly in Evasive Love and are central to The Scribbling Windhund. Partly it comes from my fear of natural disaster and my non-scientific mind trying to imagine how actual scientists will save us from the coming environmental apocalypse. The idea of a city encased in a glass box (complete with artificial sunlight!) has long intrigued me.

 


The Fantasist is a quarterly online magazine that publishes three original Fantasy novellas on the third Thursday of every third month.

And this month, while they celebrate Steampunk, one of them is mine!

cropped-The-Fantasist-Logo-192x192
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Steampunk Music: Bitter Ruin

 

Bitter Ruin has to be one of my favorite bands, partly because I like so many different kinds of music and they experiment with all of them.  I’m not sure if they’d like being called Steampunk, but “Ticker Don’t Tock” definitely helped me get into that clockwork mindset while I was writing The Scribbling Windhund.

 

I’m not sure “Trust” has anything to do with Steampunk either, but man is this a great video.

 


The Fantasist is a quarterly online magazine that publishes three original Fantasy novellas on the third Thursday of every third month.

And this month, while they celebrate Steampunk, one of them is mine!

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Steampunk Movie Review: City of Lost Children

I realize that my number one influence for Steampunk was actually La Cité des Enfants Perdus which is the proper French title for my favorite movie of all time, The City of Lost Children. The visuals are striking and extremely Steampunk, which is odd to me because I wasn’t thinking of this as Steampunk until just today when I was thinking about the Cyclops (the fat-faced guy with the eye thing is actually a blind man in a cult that kidnaps and sells children to the really old guy).

“The City of Lost Children is…the story of Krank, a tormented scientist who sets about kidnapping local children in order to steal their dreams and reverse his accelerated ageing process. When Krank’s henchmen kidnap his brother, local fisherman and former circus strongman One (Ron Perlman) sets out on a journey to Krank’s nightmarish laboratory, accompanied by a little orphan girl called Miette.”  – Umbrella Productions

It’s a weird quest story with a lot of strange world elements. The ocean is polluted (possibly poisonous, judging by the milky green hue), the world is dark (I don’t think there’s any day light in this movie), the characters are all incredibly well-rounded. Almost everyone even the smallest side characters has something they want that they can’t have.

And because trailers in the 90’s were almost as fucking weird as the movie itself, enjoy this:

 


The Fantasist is a quarterly online magazine that publishes three original Fantasy novellas on the third Thursday of every third month.

And this month, while they celebrate Steampunk, one of them is mine!

cropped-The-Fantasist-Logo-192x192
Support these guys. They have good stories for free.

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. –Oscar Wilde