Steampunk & The Lost Street Map

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I have ‘genre-jumped’ quite a bit over the years and it has been fun, if a bit frustrating never quite finding the right tone for a story. Even though the core is the story, and the genre arguably comes secondhand, mixing indiscriminately gets confusing. Once as an experiment I planned — and wrote a bit on — a pirate traveling adventure historical drama set in the Caribbean with a murder or two. Fun to do but something that died out quickly. (It never had a proper ending. Or logic.)

A couple of years ago I found Steampunk and as you might know, or not, it has strong ties with the 19th century = Jules Verne, air balloons, steam, industrial revolution, and the list go on.  Steampunk might be explained as a blend(-ish) of history, sci fi and fantasy. It is not a romanticised version of the Victorian era, but one in which certain technological advances have never happen and some that never really happened, happened. The genre has a wide scope and it was the wealth of possibilities within this universe that caught my attention: it was an imaginary cabinet of curiosities of a whole century, which you were allowed to climb into and tamper with. In other words, my diverse interests of fantasy, crime, trains, history, food, chemistry, curiosities, mystery, the uncanny and the adventurous – found a melting pot.

Where’s the “but”, I hear someone ask?

Well, it has a wide scope and therefore not easy to traverse. I’ve wandered around the Steampunk part of town a while now, casually widow shopping, strolled down the odd alley, and even picked up a trinket or two — and I’ve come to realise it hosts a large population and is incredibly diverse. Even now, when people ask me what Steampunk is, I struggle to explain it. If Realism, Crime, and the other top dogs, all have fancy flats with dark, twisting and mysterious basements across the river Ink (comfortable, familiar, and with a floor plan), Steampunk has smaller but quainter houses. And the cobblestoned streets winding around the riverbank are confusing. Currently I have no map, but I rather like that. I want wander and explore for bit longer. All I know is that there is a lot more inspiration to be found in there, map or not, and I don’t think I will be bored any time soon.

The Steampunk Bible by Vandermeer, Chambers
The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder
Soulless by Gail Carriger

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När det kommer till skrivande har jag provat rätt mycket olika saker och många olika genrer. Även om grunden är alltid en bra berättelse och själva genren kan tyckas oviktigt, passar vissa berättelser bättre i en deckare än i en fantasy. Och börjar man blanda hej vilt kan de ju bli rätt så förvirrande. (Om man inte gör det väldigt bra förstås.) Jag gjorde en gång en planering för en pirat-äventyr-historiskt-drama  som utspelade sig i Caribbean, med ett mord eller två. Det var roligt att göra även om den dog snabbt.

För några år sedan upptäckte jag Steampunk som har starka band till 1800-talet, framförallt det Viktorianska England. En blandning, på sätt och vis, mellan historia, sci fi, och fantasy – där fokus på teknologi är stort: vissa uppfinningar hände aldrig, och några som inte hände i vår värd, hände. Det är lite klurigt att förklara. Jag fascinerades av möjligheterna inom själva genren och det var lite som en fantasins kuriosakabinett för ett helt århundrade som man fick krypa in i och ändra om i.

Just att det finns så många möjligheter gör genren svår att definiera, men den behöver ju å andra sidan inte en egentlig definition. Huvudsaken är bra stories.

Själlös av Gail Carriger.