Please welcome Gail Z. Martin to The Qwillery. Iron & Blood, which was co-written with Larry N. Martin, was published on July 7, 2015 by Solaris.
Steampunk Outside Victorian London
By Gail Z. Martin
When we talk about the 'Victorian Era', we often refer only to the British Empire, as if no one else on earth was doing anything at all during Queen Victoria's long reign. Amazingly enough, everyone else was rather busy with things like the American Civil War, for example, or the machinations of Otto Von Bismarck, to name a few notable incidents. So why has Steampunk seemed to focus primarily on the UK, when there's a whole wide world to explore, and what can be done about it?
They 'why' of the dilemma is simple. Since Steampunk was a costuming community before it was a literary movement, books and stories took their cues from the elegant and oh-so-Victorian clothing and the Jules Verne-style gadgets. In this case, fiction followed form. Plus, Victorian England had plenty of fodder for good Steampunk and Gaslight-punk stories, what with explorers, inventors and the bloody butcher of White Chapel.
By the end of her long reign, Queen Victoria had a child or a grandchild on every throne in Europe. The possibilities--real and imagined--for intrigue based on that single fact boggle the imagination. And while the First World War was still in the future, hindsight reveals that the nationalism, fractured diplomacy and dubious alliances that contributed to the 'War to End All Wars' were already in play toward the end of Victoria's rule. The dynasties of Europe looked stable, but intrigue had hollowed them out like termites in a rotted foundation. The U.S. was reeling from its Civil War, and then continued the bloodshed in the Old West with debacles like the Battle of Little Big Horn before careening into an age of imperialism with the Spanish-American War.
Our Steampunk novel Iron and Blood is set in an alternative-history Pittsburgh, PA during the late 1890s. Pittsburgh, with its massive steel mills, tall chimneys billowing smoke and flame and its hub of inventors, oligarchs and innovators has all the quintessential Steampunk elements. Dawn's Early Light, by award-winning Steampunk writing duo Tee Morris and Philippa Ballantine, sees its hero and heroine leave London to fight the forces of evil in the United States.
Steampunk World, a multicultural anthology by small press (Alliteration Ink) serves up stories by a roster of authors that includes the late Jay Lake to explore Steampunk in Asia and elsewhere throughout the world. Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohamed, takes a Steampunk twist on the Arabian Nights.
As Steampunk departs from its London roots, it provides more opportunities for storytelling and costuming. After all, the 'sun never set' on the British Empire, but we've yet to see many Steampunk tales coming out of the former colonies, which included regions as diverse as India and Canada. Nor are we limited to stories set in the British Empire. Remember, the other countries had plenty going on as well.
While stories set under colonialism require a deft touch to recognize modern sensibilities and write with informed sensibilities, this is hardly different from handling racial bias in the pre- and post- Civil War American South, gender and sexuality bias nearly everywhere, and both nationalistic and religious schisms across the globe. Departing from the Victorian English norm does, however, push writers out of our Anglo-centric comfort zone, requiring additional research as well as a deft sense of which mores remain appropriate and admirable for a period hero/heroine intended for modern readers. Challenging, but the opportunities for originality are huge.
Much as I love Victorian London, I'm excited about the exploration of Steampunk stories beyond the bounds of Britain. The Victorians were a study in contrasts who lived loud and large, always on the brink of discovering the secrets of the great unknown. So I exhort readers and authors to embrace that Victorian spirit of adventure and explore the Steampunk ethos around the world and throughout the nineteenth century. After all, Victorians never saw a frontier they didn't want to explore!
Check out my new Steampunk novel Iron and Blood, co-written with Larry N. Martin, set in an alternative history Pittsburgh in 1898. In stores July 7!
The Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event includes book giveaways, free excerpts and readings, all-new guest blog posts and author Q&A on 28 awesome partner sites around the globe. For a full list of where to go to get the goodies, visit www.AscendantKingdoms.com.
Iron & Blood
A Jake Desmet Adventure 1
Solaris, July 7, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages
A Steampunk adventure novel set in the fictional city of New Pittsburgh.
New Pittsburgh in 1898, a crucible of invention and intrigue, the hub of American industry at the height of its steam-driven power. Born from the ashes of devastating fire, flood and earthquake, New Pittsburgh is ruled by the shadow government of The Oligarchy. In the abandoned mine tunnels beneath the city, supernatural creatures hide from the light, emerging to feed in the smoky city known as 'hell with the lid off.'
Jake Desmet and Rick Brand, heirs to the Brand & Desmet Import Company, travel the world to secure treasures and unusual items for the collections of wealthy patrons, accompanied by Jake's cousin, Veronique 'Nicki' LeClercq . Smuggling a small package as a favor for a Polish witch should have been easy. But when hired killers come after Jake and a Ripper-style killer leaves the city awash in blood, Jake, Rick and Nicki realize that dark magic, vampire power struggles and industrial sabotage are just a prelude to a bigger plot that threatens New Pittsburgh and the world. Stopping that plot will require every ounce of Jake's courage, every bit of Rick's cunning, every scintilla of Nicki's bravura and all the steampowered innovation imaginable.
Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books and Orbit Books. In addition to Iron and Blood, she is the author of Deadly Curiosities and the upcoming Vendetta in her urban fantasy series;The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) as well as Ice Forged, Reign of Ash, and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga from Orbit Books. Gail writes two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures and her work has appeared in over 20 US/UK anthologies.
Larry N. Martin fell in love with fantasy and science fiction when he was a teenager. After a twenty-five year career in Corporate America, Larry started working full-time with his wife, author Gail Z. Martin and discovered that he had a knack for storytelling, plotting and character development, as well as being a darn fine editor. Iron and Blood is their first official collaboration. On the rare occasions when Larry isn’t working on book-related things, he enjoys pottery, cooking and reading.