When Sean Kennedy released his recent steampunk novel I knew I wanted him to write a post about the genre because Wings of Equity was so exciting. I don’t know much about steampunk except for old Jules Verne and H.G. Wells’ books, and more recent adventures such as Ginn Hale’s Wicked Gentlemen and Josh Lanyon’s Strange Fortune. Ingrid also reminded me about Sursein Judgment by Jet Mykles, another wonderful book in this genre. Many writers seem afraid to tackle this period of our history, perhaps because the use of steam power during the 1800’s and 1900’s requires extensive research for their stories. I wish more authors were daring enough to try this genre.
Here is Sean’s post on steampunk. 🙂
Whenever somebody asked me what my next work was going to be and I replied “A steampunk” the response usually was “What’s that?”
And it’s a very good question. And not really one that is easily answered because at times it seems like there are many definitions of the genre and many variations within it. I really must state up front as well that the book I ended up writing, Wings of Equity, would probably be classified as steampunk-lite.
I have always been a fan of Jules Verne ever since I was a kid, and he is now thought of as being “the father of steampunk” (although the term was not in use during his time, having not been coined until the 1980s). Generally, steampunk stories are those set in a certain historical period (usually the 1800s or very early 1900s) in which anachronistic technology is used and very often powered by steam. They can be seen as existing in an alternative universe as the technology is ahead of its time although seriously antiquated by our standards. The technology in more modern works is often seen through a romantic or nostalgic veil, and the genre is often skewed heavily towards speculative fiction and adventure stories.
Steampunk likes playing around with worlds that are familiar to us, and are usually in Edwardian, Victorian or Wild Western settings. It has been making inroads into popular romantic fiction of late – one extremely popular series is Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate featuring the heroine Alexia Tarabotti – and is also now becoming quite popular in gay romantic fiction as well. After all, who can resist dashing heroes flying through the skies and generally being larrikins with hearts of gold despite their rough exteriors?
The fact is that steampunk offers a huge, wide, and interesting world to play in. It’s what drew me to write Wings of Equity – which I would say is really more of a gay ‘boy’s own adventure’ in a steampunk setting. Some readers are put off by the sci-fi elements attached to it, but they shouldn’t be – there are a lot of steampunk-inspired stories out there in the mainstream that they have probably already been exposed to. Will Smith’s action adventure Wild Wild West was heavily influenced by steampunk, as was Joss Whedon’s fanatically-loved and shortlived series Firefly. Steampunk offers something new, but familiar enough for us to enjoy; its foray into the world of m/m romance should be welcomed due to its difference and irreverence!