Steampunk, eh? It’s a funny old subgenre – although the roots of its modern iteration seem to take in Blaylock and Powers (by long, diversionary way of Verne and Wells), its proliferation across internet cultures is producing some unforseen irruptions, like bizarre hothouse hybrids unfurling in humid shadowy corners.
Most obvious is the whole cosplay thing, which I really kinda like. Unlike some of my SF/fantasy compadres (and fellow travellers), I’ve never experienced any contempt or irritation for costuming and masquerades – I’ve been going to conventions since back in 1979, and just love all the gaudy aspects of them, and since steampunk textures have begun to mingle with that overall gallimaufry its made it all feel that much more enjoyable for me.
Other aspects are cropping up on TV, for example – Bruce Boxleitners Lantern City, for example – http://lanterncitytv.com/ – sounds utterly fascinating. Really hope it gets off the ground. Then there’s video games, most recently Dishonoured, which had more of a dieselpunk feel to it, and the upcoming and anticipated Bioshock Infinite, set on a floating balloon city in 1912! – if you’ve not seen any of the promotional vids for this, you really need to go to youtube and give yr eyes a treat.
There is one aspect of steampunk, and the political context of a steampowered culture, at least as far as we can reckon it from our own history – which is that life for the great mass of people throughout most of the 1800s, the Victoria era, was miserable, grinding poverty. Its okay, it really is, to writer a fun, light-in-tone caper story in that kind of setting, but writers should also be aware of political realities, and try not to mislead the reader about the nature of power under such regimes.
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The SF Encyclopedia Online is a colossal project, and has been available now in kinda post-beta for a year or more. And at last yr humble scribe has his own, his very own entry therein. Point yir wee moosies at the link:
Says it all really – was asked to contribute my faves to SF Signal’s regular Mind Meld feature. So get ye hence and scroll to the bottom for my pronunciamentos:
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Happened across this quote from a book called INJUSTICE by Danny Dorling:
|—||Danny Dorling, Injustice, Policy Press, 2010, pp. 1-2|
Wish I could afford the book – pricey hardcover, ya see!
An old buddy from my call centre slavery days happens to be a comix afficionado, and has been involved in comic writing and production himself. He also has some very trenchant opinions on the recent rash of superhero movies, which he has only just sounded off on at his blog. See the link below, and if you’re a Marvel movies fan ya better strap in for the ride!
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And I’m going! Yes, for it came to pass that yours truly was asked if I’d like to attend, and having only been to Derby once (for the first EMMA Electronic Music festival back in ’94), I thought the only answer could be ‘Aye, no problem!’
Alt.Fiction will take place on Saturday, June 12th, at the Derby Quad in the centre of the town, with its program starting about 10am I think. I have thus far got 3 events scheduled, being
1pm – a signing session for myself and Kate Griffin, both of us being Orbit authors
2pm – podcast on new writers and breaking in to the biz
3pm – podcast on writing SF: the future of the Future
Take a look at the link below, which leads to the Alt.Fiction website – you will notice that my name is not in the sidebar list, but not to worry about that – where you’ll find out lots more detail, events and ticket prices etc.
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As luck would have it, I came down with a crippling bug which disabled my sinusses just in time for my visit to London for the SFX Summer of Reading bash at Waterstones. I still went, and acquitted myself with honour, came back and had to endure another 10 days of congestion hell. It felt as if my head was full of hot toffee for a week and a half.
Anyhow, with antibiotics and relentless application of decongestants (Asda brand, 16 for a pound, or Sudafed 16 for about £2.80; tough choice, huh?) I can breathe and, after a fashion, think again. I’m still afflicted with gummy phlegm and irritated coughs etc (dont wanna get into TMI territory but you can figure it out), so I am now firing on about 8 outa 10 barrels and the writing is going well.
I’m just praying that I dont get any other surprise infections by the time the 2nd week in June rolls round, as yours truly has been invited to the 1-day SF festival, Alt-Fiction, being held at the Derby Quad in Derby on Saturday, June 12th. For more info see the link -
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Ah, what a revelatory general election campaign this has been. All it took was a couple of Yankee-stylee leader debates to reveal how biased and anti-democratic the majority of the British mainstream media have been for, well, quite a long time. One prime-time debate putting Nick Clegg on an equal footing with Cameron and Brown – ONE – was enough to catapult the Liberal Democrats into contention. Why? – because the manichean stereotype of politics (which rules absolutely in the States) was shattered and a large section of the electorate saw that, yes, Virginia, the Lib Dems do present a genuine and sane alternative.
Of course, as expected (and as briefed by Cameron’s bagmen), Fleet Street’s finest coughed up a barrage of screaming, hyperbolic headlines that soared to the heady heights of the famous ‘Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster’. And now the latest vomit-flecked example in this ignoble charade has arrived, courtesy of a website called Policy Diffusion (an amusingly cack-handed title since diffuse means scattered, spread out, not concise. So, got that one right, then). PD is the product of 4 gentlemen, Richard Thoburn, Mark Rayner, Kevin Harrington and Ken Tonkin; the site gives no links to info on them, but a bit of googling did turn up one Richard Thorburn who has written a couple of booklike objects, namely An A-Z of Why Lefties are Bastards: A Beginners’ Guide to Baiting Lefties, and An A-Z of Why Dave Is a Lefty (and a Toff). Might be him, might not.
Their website flings up a single page, containing mainly a bunch of gifs taking a malign swing at the Lib Dems with sub-gutter journalism accuracy and clod-hopping wit. But it was the couple of paragraphs at the top which really got my attention. I read them – and once I’d finished gut-laughing I knew I had to do a number on it. Here’s a selection of quotes, with translations.
“Policy Diffusion believes there is a real danger that people will vote for the LibDems without knowing fully what they stand for.” – trans: Policy Diffusion believes there is a real danger that people might find out that the Lib Dems offer what they want, and that they might vote for it!
“(Website founders Richard Thoburn, Mark Rayner, Kevin Harrington and Ken Tonkin) are very concerned about the effect of a hung parliament on the economy” – trans: We are scared legless that a hung parliament would lead to PR and the end of Tory governments with total power to extend greed throughout the land.
“…and…that a Liberal Democrat government or a coalition government with a strong Liberal Democrat influence would be a disaster for the economy and for the country” – trans: And we are frankly terrified that a Liberal Democrat government would regulate the City and choke off the monster gobs of cash which are gushing out of the Treasury and into the accounts of our corporate mates.
And the piece de resistance? – right at the bottom of the single webpage is a tout for cash donations. Not – If you believe in our sturdy principles and upright demeanour, register for our updates, or take part in our forum, or join our nascent thinktank. Nah, just give us some dosh.
Because that’s what its all about for these gurgling, dead-eyed, heartless feebs of the Right. Yeah, so we’ve had 30 years of Blatcherism, 30 years of throwing the poor and the sick under the bus, all ending with a gargantuan bank-led gangbang of the international economy, resulting in a big uptick in the number of millionaires and billionaires. Yeah, we`ve had all that, true, but…we want more. Thass right. Too much is NEVER enough, and if you think these Liberal Democrats are going get anything resembling a level playing field – even if they do win big – I’ve got some Saddam Hussein-themed condoms to sell ya.
They call themselves the wealth creators, yeah, the ones who cheered on the Tories then Blair, but who whine and yelp every time the possibility emerges that some or even just a little of their ill-gotten gains might be redirected towards the wellbeing of society. They’re not happy with 90% – they want it all, like George Carlin said. And if the Tories win a majority they`ll be coming for your social security, your schools, your hospitals, your museums, your libraries. And then their whining will become a full-throated roar of triumphant greed.
Which is why I will be voting Liberal Democrat on May 6th: there are some areas of the LD manifesto I wish were tougher or more progressive, but at least with them there is a chance that we can put right some of the grotesque flaws of the last 30 years. With Labour or the Tories there is NO chance.
Mark Chitty, head honcho over at Walker of Worlds, very kindly offered me a soapbox on his excellent review site, from which I have pontificated on matters SFically-related. To have a butchers, click on da liddle link:
Also, moves are afoot re a signing appearance (alongside sundry other giants of the field) in London in May. More on that when details firm up.
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