Thursday, August 5, 2010

Punk Writing

I'm starting to like punks a whole lot. But not this kind:
I'm talking about steampunks. Dieselpunks. Atompunks. Fiction that's set in an alternate-history, alternate-tech sort of world, populated by characters who don't shop at IKEA and The Gap. Lots of brass gadgets and clockwork. Dirigibles. Language from a time when people used to read outside of school.

And the aesthetic is just plain cool. Look at this steampunk computer somebody made:
That's a working computer, folks. If you want to see the details and more pictures, click here. A lot of steampunk fans are also Makers. Have you heard of them?

Maker culture is thriving: here's a link to Make magazine. Broadly speaking, they're people who reject pop consumerism and make something new out of found items. There's a strong DIY ethic and a premium placed on personal creativity. And in terms of design, they usually don't want to hide the way something works, like modern doodads; they'd rather see all the gears and gizmos and the wires and so on. Here's a link to a video of this year's Maker Faire to get a sense of what they like.

In terms of writing, the opportunities are vast. The market isn't glutted yet, demand is increasing, and there's so much that can be done. In terms of writing trends, I think there's still plenty of room to get in on the ground floor here. Granted, if you're trying to come up with a Sherlock Holmes clone, that might be a tough sell, but look at what else is out there and doing well. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest features a kid and his mom in 19th-century Seattle. Leviathan and the forthcoming Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld feature a couple of young'uns, too, and that's WWI-era stuff, qualifying it as dieselpunk (though there are significant biopunk aspects as well). The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi, is a biopunk novel doing quite well now. And then there's Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, set in 19th-century London, which is definitely steampunk with a bit of urban fantasy and Jane Austen mashed in. (By the way, my next author interview is with Gail, and I'm very excited!)

I'm hoping inspiration will strike me soon for a punkish short story...or even a novel, heck, why not? I've started an epic fantasy and I've outlined the fourth book in my urban fantasy series, but it's never too late to start something else. Plenty of burners on the stove, right? Multitasking keeps the brain fresh and all that. Food for thought, anyway. :)


  1. You should check out The lady who writes that blog is really into steampunk, and she makes quite a bit of crafty stuff herself. She also happens to be the woman behind cakewrecks, which is my absolute favorite blog. Cake and comedy, what could be better. - Tammy

  2. Thanks Tammy! I will check it out.