Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Updates and More Cool Steampunk Stuff

As I type this out, I am surrounded by a stack of hastily scribbled notes regarding the upcoming MetaCon in Minneapolis at the end of the month. Notes to myself include such things as "buy food for the room party" and other notes such as "schtum the drudam in pooga" or so it seems to read (I have terrible handwriting and cannot spell to save my soul. How did I end up as a writer?) Alas, I discovered that I could attend MetaCon too late to obtain a vendor's table, so I am exploring other ideas for marketing "Steam on the Horizon" while I am up there. Mainly I will be walking around talking to people and handing out marketing material, which should be sufficient.

On an exciting note, Steam Powered Giraffe will be playing at MetaCon and while I would personally rather see Abney Park in concert again, SPG is certainly well worth the showtime and should be a fun event.

Work on "Clouds of War" continues: much of the original draft is either staying where it is or being refitted into other areas while other ideas, plans, and schemes are springing to life afresh. As I write, I find myself continually irritated by my own lack of practical knowledge on so many elements that make their way into my writing: using a sextant, food storage without refridgeration, flying an airship, casting bullets, keeping sanitation without having much water, the list continues. Life on board the Horizon, as indeed life for most people pre-21st century, was brutal, dirty, and brief, and it is hard to truly appreciate this when you are surrounded by more food and comfort than you can possibly use.

As I have grappled with gears and words, the ever-present question of "what is the appeal of steampunk" constantly comes to my mind. What, precisely, is the thrust behind what I am doing? On the surface, my tale is fairly mundane: an airship captain struggling to pay a debt to a tyrannical man, the day-to-day workings of a merchant airship moving cargo about, and mundane issues such as coal, repair work, and food. My story is not filled with chiseled abs, impossibly coiffed heroines fighting off ravening hordes of monsters, buried treasure, and the stuff that makes Hollywood. However, there is an appeal in the ordinary, an excitement in the struggle of the daily grind, and I think the appeal lies in it being vastly different than the world of ease, leisure, and comfort we have today.

A quick google search of "the appeal of steampunk" brings up a variety of different articles, and I was particularly attracted to this lengthy exploration by author Nick Harkaway:
 Steampunk, on the other hand, repurposes, scavenges, remakes and embellishes in an arena where embellishment is seen as decadence, never mind the inherent decadence of creating the sheer amount of computing power our society now possesses in order that most of it should sit idle or be used for email and occasional games of Plants vs Zombies. Steampunk appeals to the idea of uniqueness, to the one-off item, while every mainstream consumer technology of recent years is about putting human beings into ever more granular, packageable and mass-produced identities so that they can be sold or sold to, perfectly mapped and understood.

The original article is well worth a read. For myself, I have been meditating on the question of why steampunk is appealing, and I have the beginnings of a manifesto percolating to life in my brain. For now, I have had quite enough computer time for the day and will sign off for now.

Happy cogs to all!

1 comment:

  1. I am a writer who has terrible handwriting too, even I can't read it sometimes! Thank goodness for computers! I hate when I have handwritten notes and then can't read them!

    I think walking around and talking to people is a great idea! I always have interesting conversations with people, and if you have a card, that is a great way to keep in contact.

    I know what you mean, while I love aspects of the past, I love the good quality of life, hygiene and medical care we have now, and I would not swap that for anything!