One question I get a lot . . . What is Steampunk?

One question I get at a lot at all the events I attend is “What is Steampunk?” It is a defined genre but to me, it’s much more than that. There are two definitions of steampunk. One states, “a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology” while the others says, “a style of design and fashion that combines historical elements with anachronistic technological features inspired by science fiction.”

I always consider Jules Verne and H.G. Wells the godfathers of the steampunk genre. The created a modern view of technology using 19th century views. We steampunk authors use their influence to create our wild and fantastic visions bringing the future into the past.

Steamboy (2004) Japanese animated film

To me, one of the best movies to understand steampunk is the 2004 anime classic Steamboy. “England of the 1860s receives a technological remake in this animated adventure. Ray Steam is a brilliant young inventor who follows in the footsteps of his father, Eddie, and his grandfather, Lloyd Steam. After his grandfather sends him a mysterious mechanical ball that contains revolutionary power, Ray finds his world turning upside down. It seems a lot of people want that power, and not all of them have good intentions.” It has an all star cast (Anna Paquin, Alfred Molina, and Sir Patrick Stewart) and a cast of historical characters including Robert Louis Stevenson, the inventor of the steam engine. This movie is quintessential steampunk in every aspect of the vision it presents. There is also anime like Arcane on Netflix and The Mortal Engines movie are great examples of steampunk.

Airships, trains, mechanical beings powered by steam are the vision of tomorrow to a steampunk enthusiast. Goggles, backpacks, Victorian-era corsets with top hats and long coats are all part of the unique style of steampunk. It can be seen at conventions and festivals around the world and in books, television, and movies. Gears, open mechanics, copper pipes, leather, and Edison bulbs all represent the idea of fashion when it comes to steampunk.

A Clockwork Heart by Dennis Saputra

Although most things considered steampunk revolves around steam power, I also like to include it in magic-powered machines. In my novel The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart, I combined magic with machines in this futuristic dystopia. This includes trains running on Magius engines, automail armor, and a clockwork heart. I also did a little of this in my novella The River of Souls, where I created a land cycle powered by an engine that pulled in ether from the air for fuel. Magic and machines are a fun way to take the steampunk genre in a new direction. Technology has a way of migrating into fantasy stories of one caliber or another. I would also include a bit of alchemy mixed in to make it even more interesting to include it in fantasy story writing.

However, steampunk is primarily a historical fiction genre, and my next novel explores into just that realm. Corsair and the Sky Pirates is coming out in January 2023 from Curious Corvid Publishing. Imagine if Jules Verne and Nikola Tesla met and collaborated. What kind of world would come from it? That’s the premise of my new steampunk historical fiction as the war between Tesla and Thomas Edison takes to the skies. Corsair and his sky pirates believe in Tesla’s vision for the future—a world where the people are free to use technology without bowing to their corporate masters in ERP (Edison Röntgen Parsons). Edison has plans for world domination and its up to Corsair and his merry band to discover the secrets of the master inventor. Take to the skies on the airship Galeru, from the ancient ruins of Egypt to the English Channel, the New York City skyline and the American Southwest.

You can find steampunk at various junctures around the world. If you want to dine in steampunk style, try The Edison restaurant in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Or if your travelling internationally, The Abyss Pub in Italy was inspired by the Kraken, or visit the Les Machines de l’Île Nantes, which is in the city of Nantes, France is an amazing artistic and creative steampunk wonderful. Mechanical animals roam, which is in the city of Nantes, France, is an amazing artistic and creative steampunk wonder as mechanical animals roam the streets. Here in the USA, there are plenty of steampunk festivals to catch your interest. Maybe I’ll see you there.

# # #

Mark Piggott is an award-winning independent author of several fantasy/steampunk novels and short stories. A 23-year U.S. Navy veteran, his stories will take you from the shores of eternal Avalon to a dystopian steampunk future and other worlds.

The Forever Avalon fantasy book series—including Forever Avalon, The Dark Tides, and The Outlander War—is available online at Amazon and other booksellers. His fantasy steampunk novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart, is available through Lulu and other booksellers.

Get ready for The River of Souls fantasy novella from Curious Corvid Publishing. Coming in 2023 from Curious Corvid—the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates, and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel. Stay tuned for more new fantastic stories from the imagination of Mark Piggott.

Come out to pick up some great reads at the Book Fiends Readers Festival in Manchester

One thing I realized after attending my first steampunk festival last month is how much they love to read. When you consider classic authors like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are considered the Godfathers of Steampunk as we know it today, this much true. The steampunk genre revolves around everything from science fiction to romance, historical fiction to fantasy. But for some, its an obsession, and as an author, I want to encourage that type of obsessive behavior in people.

One of those groups is the Silk City Steampunk and Oddball Newt from Manchester, CT. They are hosting their third annual Book Fiends Readers Festival on Saturday, June 25, from 11am to 5pm at Cheney Hall, 177 Hartford Road, Manchester, CT. It is a celebration of steampunk, science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, supernatural, paranormal, and poetry authors. The event is FREE and open to the public.

Besides meeting some great authors (including yours truly) and artists, there will be sword fighting demonstrations, food trucks, author panels, and BYOTC (Bring Your Own Tea Cup) for the Tea Cup contest. There will be a VIP meet & greet after the festival from 5pm to 7pm (tickets $10 per person). Visit Oddball Newt Productions for more information and for future steampunk events in Connecticut.

Events like these are great opportunities for you, the readers, to meet the authors of your future favorite books and pick up some great bargains to add to your summer reading list or to your bookshelf. Let’s help each other out in this endeavor. If you’re in the New York/New England area, I hope you take the time to come to the festival. I look forward to seeing you there!

# # #

Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy/steampunk novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available as a paperback/ebook at iUniverse Publishing,  Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series, is available as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing and at Amazon and other booksellers. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart, is available through Lulu and other booksellers.

Get ready for The River of Souls fantasy novella, coming soon from Curious Corvid Publishing along with the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky PiratesThe Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are future installments of his current fantasy book series, plus so much more coming soon.

Fantasy? Sci-fi? Or both? Which is better? Just answer the damn question!

60604e38e26fa970bcb98e76a7d0a552--fantasy-fairies-fantasy-artMagic vs. Science has been a question that fantasy and sci0fi writers have been pondering for quite a long time. The usual trope involves people using science in an under developed country which, to them, seems like magic. I’ve seen this used on episodes of Star Trek, Doctor Who, and various other television shows and movies. It is even considered “one and the same” in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as told in Thor.

Science or magic? Or both, for that matter. Anime has a penchant for using magic to power technology, i.e. Knights and Magic, Tenchi Muyo: War on Geminar, The Irregular at Magic High School, and In Another World with my Smartphone, just to name a few. I love to see magic used in this way, it really has a cyber-punk/steampunk feel to it.

AdventureGuideI remember an old Role Playing Game (RPG) I played back in the 80’s (no jokes or comments about my  age please) called Rifts. The backstory involved a post-apocalyptic Earth where the ley lines have unlocked dimensional rifts, the rebirth of magical creatures in our modern world, along with the reemergence of mysterious locations like Atlantis, Lemuria, and other mythical places. I remember this picture in the player’s guide of an Elf, wearing cyber-punk tech, trying to hack into a computer. It really covered all angles of magic/technology. That’s the type of genre convergence I like to see.

The way to think about this is as a source of energy. Magic is, in all practical purposes, energy. You can call it mana, psions, or PPE (Potential Psychic Energy per Rifts), it’s still magic. Spells allow magicians, mages, magic casters, etc., to manipulate this energy through spells. In some ways, the use of technology gives the wizards a way to cast their spells faster, more accurate, and more powerful than traditional casting.

The best example for this is in the anime The Irregular at Magic High School. I know, I talk a lot about anime in my blogs, but that’s really to the broad range of genres they use. Anyway, in this anime, magical power is measured in psions or “thought particles” and use Casting Assistance Devices, or CADs, to make it easier to cast certain spells. The CADs are preprogrammed with spells that allows the caster the ability to use spells in rapid succession.

In the movies, the MCU has changed the way we look at mythology. The Asgardians in Thor use magic and science in the same breath. The ability to access this energy lies in their immortal life. When Thor first appeared in the comics, it was told as the ancient Gods coming to the modern age, nothing more. This was retold when the MCU was created and it made so much more sense. These are not beings born of magic, but a race of inter-dimensional beings who used magic to power their science.

“Your Ancestors Called it Magic, but You Call it Science. I Come From a Land Where They Are One and the Same.” — Thor Odinson, Thor

It’s a fine line to walk, especially as a writer. With magic, you can do practically anything in your stories. Magic is an unpredictable and wide-ranging power. However, when it comes to science, anything you create or imagine, you need to base it in science. Think about Star Trek. When the late, great Gene Roddenberry created his series, he wanted to base the technology on practical science. He even spoke with physicists and other scientists to ensure he was basing his stories on what technology in the future could be. I mean, from Star Trek, we got cell phones, digital music and movies, and other tech we see today… And it only took less than 50 years to go from science fiction to science fact.

Steve Jobs once noted that his inspiration for the iPod came from an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where music was played by the computer. This is how writers can inspire. Think back to Jules Verne. From 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to From the Earth to the Moon, submarines and rockets became a reality. Although, I’m still waiting for my H.G. Wells time machine.

As writers, we can let our imagination go and create anything and everything possible. Whether it be science or magic, or both… Use whatever you can to bring your story to life.

# # #

51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.