I’m playing around with a Steampunk idea. If I manage to pull it off, it will be the fifth in the Candy’s Monsters novella series. After a straight out mystery (The Mary Shelley Game), a broken-hearted, chick-lit, dark comedy (Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet), a 21st Century gothic horror (POED) and a romantic suspense novella (The Strange Case of Dr. Hyde and Her Friends), I’ve finally found my monstrous way to Steampunk. I’ve read a big bunch of ‘em. Loved a few. Hated a couple. Found merit in the fusion genre with its twist on time & technology. And so it’s time to dive—or tip toe—into the stew of mixed influences that make Steampunk so Steampunk-y.
I’m curious about the aspects of Steampunk that resonate with readers. For me, it’s the fun with anachronisms—the mix of real & fantasy and the reimagined timelines. In historical fiction (good historical fiction) there is a clear adherence to the broader context of historical realities. Historical fiction can make history come alive by giving the reader a doorway into another time and place. Phillipa Gregory’s ‘The White Queen’ is brilliant. As a reader, I was swept into the world she created by melding serious research with an imaginary inner life of historical figures.
In Steampunk the realities of the Victorian era (Queen Victoria 1837-1901) are re-imagined with technology—or technology enhanced with magic—plus feminism and other ideas borrowed from later periods. A Steampunk novel juxtaposes historical facts with fantasy fiction, in the fashion of the great 19th century science fiction & fantasy authors—Jules Verne and company. My inspiration for trying Steampunk was a visit to an exhibit at the Smithsonian in Washington DC. It featured books by Verne, H. G. Wells, Mary Shelley and others masters of adventurous 19th Century fiction.
I’m playing with a setting close to home—my apartment building. It was built at the turn of the 20th Century when cast iron architecture was giving way to the next phase of building styles as Manhattan expanded north. It will be 1900 and the building will be a brand new, state-of-the art manufacturing facility. The top floor and roof will be the laboratory of my protagonist.
Whether you love Steampunk or loathe it, I’m interested in hearing what you think is essential to a good Steampunk tale. Thoughts, gripes, rants, critical elements and anything else about Steampunk… please share here!