Monday, November 7, 2011

More about Steampunk...

           Glenn Freund had a wonderful quote on his blog in Steampunk Week. Yes, dear readers, steampunk is such a popular movement in literature, film, theatre, costume and design that there is even a Steampunk Week!

Glenn says  ‘steampunk is a wonderful medium for allowing one’s suspension of disbelief to run rampant.

In my previous blog about Sassy Steampunk I wrote :
The new direction is now steampunk + romance and a major appeal is the historical setting, and a steampunk author can use familiar settings and times.

In this blog, I want to tell you a little bit more about alternate history. When creating a steampunk story the author can have freedom with historical events and change them to provide an alternative history in a familiar society. In Glenn’s words, you can allow your suspension of disbelief to run rampant!

Alternate history is defined as a genre of fiction consisting of stories that are set in worlds in which history has diverged from the actual history of the world. It can be variously seen as a sub-genre of literary fiction, science fiction, and historical fiction.

Steampunk and alternate history have a lot in common; in fact, one might even see  steampunk as a branch of alternate history --at least, the steampunk stories portraying actual societies and following historical events accurately.

For example my current work in progress, Summer of the Moon Flower  (sequel to Winter of the Passion Flower to be published March 2012)  is historically accurate. Painstaking research is required to ensure that this is so. Set in 19th century Vienna and Scotland, all is as it should be –well almost –there are a  few dirigible and automatons popping up here and there.

To continue...All is as it should be until we get to 1861 and Queen Victoria is assassinated. The flow on from this assassination provides an alternate reality and impacts on many events in the history of England.

The immediate problem we have is how to inform our readers that this is an alternate history? Does everyone picking up a novel to read, know that Queen Victoria actually died in 1901? And there is no way that you can weave that into your story line.

Hmmm...challenging for the author.

If you haven’t read any steampunk... let me encourage you to try something new.
A few recommendations:
Gail Carriger...The Parasol Protectorate Series
Kady Cross ...The Girl in the Steel Corset
Elysabeth Williams...The Electrifying Exploits of the English Three
Cindy Spencer Pape... Photographs and Phantoms
Christine Bell... The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale


Allison Butler said...

Hi Annie,

Great post! I know little about Steampunk, but thanks to your fascinating post, I now understand more. Thank You! Ensuring readers are aware of true history while altering actual events in your story sounds like an enormous challenge. Best of luck succeeding:)

Cassandra Samuels said...


I never thought about the predicament of alternate history or of informing the reader. Great post.

Elle Fynllay said...

Hmmm just wondering if they can chop your head off for murdering a long dead monarch...maybe you could blame it on Jack The Ripper.
And all that painstaking research..I can see you desperately need a research assistant for the next visit to Vienna, Scotland or Europe.Just little ol' me putting my hand up plus will supply an alibi if they come looking for you for regicide.

Maggi Andersen said...

Great post! I'm fascinating by Steampunk.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Thanks for the list of recommendations, Annie. I've started Gail Carriger's series. Steampunk with werewolves and vampires - what's not to like :))

Alternative history can be challenging and as you say when events have changed completely what do you do. I think when I see a steampunk book I automatically know it will be a different history so I'm prepared for it. :))

Anonymous said...

Hi Annie,
First I appologise for being tardy to respond.
I have become a fan of the Steampunk novel,and like Many other readers had not a clue what it was about when I first heard of it.
I love that it incorporates various time eras and zones for that matter.
It was only recently I watched on TV the time machine, and realised it was Steampunk.

Eleni.. WOW vampires and Punk? - yes, thanks for the tip. ;)
I also have found erotic Steampunk quite enjoying as well.
eg: Bound in Brass by Abigail Barnette