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.

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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.

Steampunk is the future of science fiction, from the past

Steampunk Paris | Steampunk artwork, Steampunk art, Steampunk airshipSteampunk is defined as “a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.” To me, it’s modern technology with a Victorian twist. This genre has been on the rise with its push in video games with the award winning Bioshock or The Order franchise, TV series like Steampunkd, and in books, starting with the Godfather of Steampunk, Jules Verne, to authors like Cherie Priest and Michael Moorcock.

Some people view it more as a fashion style, combining Victorian-era sensibilities with brass fittings, gauges and gears. Weird optics, mechanical arms, airships and powerful weapons of steam, chemicals, and electricity are the backbone of steampunk style, but again, it’s the story behind the style that makes it appealing.

Jules Verne is the undisputed father of the Steampunk movement. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea will always be the epitome of steampunk. I always imagined a meeting in France between Nikola Tesla and Jules Verne in the spring of 1882, discussing the possibilities of Verne’s creations using Tesla’s technology. Wouldn’t that be something? It’s actually the basis for a steampunk novel I’ve been working on, Corsair and the Sky Pirates, but that’s another story for another time. To me, this would be the ideal setting of where it all began. The birth of Steampunk as we know it today.

“Steampunk is an eclectic world of cogs and rivets. It is airships and goggles and steam. It is romance. It is travelling on clouds and diving beneath rugged waves. It is adventure.” ― Aether Emporium

I felt the Steampunk desire today, So I watched "Steamboy" and ...One of the best representations of Steampunk in film is the Japanese animated film, Steamboy. Though most of the Steampunk technology in the film was represented by weapons, it is still a wonderful tribute to the genre. Steamboy tells the story of Ray Steam, a British boy in 1863 England, and how the invention of a “steamball” pitted Robert Stephenson, the first master of the steam engine, against Ray’s father, Edward, and his “Steam Castle” at the London Exposition. It’s style, look and feel could make any Steampunk aficionado jump for joy. Another great example of Steampunk is the Japanese TV series, Fullmetal Alchemist. It combines the style and look of Steampunk with alchemy and magic.

Steampunk inventor/author/mechanic Jake von Slatt said, “To some, ‘steampunk’ is a catch all term. To me, it is essentially the intersection of technology and romance.” That’s quite an opinion. I think Steampunk does have a bit of a romantic flair, especially in the wardrobe. Men’s attire is very masculine in Steampunk while the women are sexy and feminine. In both cases, the trend is very fashion forward, evoking strength and power while being strangely attractive.

“Steampunk is…a joyous fantasy of the past, allowing us to revel in a nostalgia for what never was. It is a literary playground for adventure, spectacle, drama, escapism and exploration. But most of all it is fun!” ― George Mann

I’ve started to bring some Steampunk into my own writing. Though the Forever Avalon novels are more medieval fantasy, in contrast, through my stories, they are moving forward in look and technology. Like Fullmetal Alchemist, I am trying to weave those elements together with things slowly coming of age. In my new novel, The Outlander War, I am leaning more towards the Renaissance while keeping some of the medieval fantasy elements there.

I created weapons I call GunStars, named after the ships in The Last Starfighter movie (one of my favorite sci-fi movies of the 80’s). They look like oversized flintlock pistols, using cartridges containing alchemical mixtures that, when combined with the magic within the GunStar, fires explosive rounds. From fireballs and ‘magic missiles’ to acid rain and hail, these weapons make even the more novice warriors more formidable.

I realize that these creations of mine are not 100% Steampunk, but they were inspired by it. Steampunk is as Jake von Slatt said, “an intersection” of technology and whatever your imagination brings to the table.” Don’t think of it as outdated, but rather a futuristic twist on history. That’s some that can spark the curiosity of any reader.

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SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

My next project … “Corsair and the Sky Pirates” Steampunk adventure

As I work with my editor to get The Outlander War ready for publication, I am looking ahead to my next project. To be honest, I am planning to continue the story of the Gil-Gamesh and the MoonDrake family on Avalon with another trilogy, but I wanted to step away for a second. I wanted to try a science fiction adventure, specifically a STEAMPUNK adventure.

I have always been fascinated by the steampunk genre, from the Victorian sensibilities to the wild, gear-driven, steam-powered inventions. It reminds me so much of Jules Verne and his fantastic novels, which is why I decided to write this story. So, without any further adieu, I present to you the prologue for my next story, “The Adventures of Corsair and the Sky Pirates: Uriel’s Flame” on Inkitt.

* * *

DesertShadows_Myke_Amend_desktop-Imagine that Jules Verne, the prophet of science fiction, and Nikola Tesla, the genius inventor, had met. What would the world be like? Steam-powered machines like you’ve never seen before, bringing about a new age of science and industry, and bringing the world one step closer to war. In this age of modern mechanical marvels, the wealthy have gotten richer off the backs of workers, toiling in the factories all around the globe to produce these wondrous inventions. The only person standing up for the people is the infamous Corsair and his Sky Pirates. In his dirigible, the Arkaroo, Corsair searches the globe for the source of power for these incredible machines… Uriel’s Flame. Meteor fragments from a passing comet provides unlimited power for these steam-powered, modern marvels. Whomever controls Uriel’s Flame controls the main source of power in the world, leading countries to the brink of war. The Edison/Roentgen/Fulton, or ERF, Corporation is searching far and wide for the meteors, giving them complete control of this valuable mineral. It’s up to Corsair and his Sky Pirates to stop them and prevent a world war from impacting the world.

* * *

1887 in the city of Amiens, France. The port city in northern France was not the bustling seaport it appeared to be, but rather a quiet, little community divided by the Somme River. It’s home to one of the largest cathedrals in France and one of the world’s greatest authors.

At a small café in Quartier St.-Leu, Jules Verne sipped quietly on his coffee as he sifted through the newspaper. Verne enjoyed the quiet moments like this. It helped to clear his mind and arrange his thoughts for the next adventure.

You wouldn’t know by looking at this quiet, little man that he was such a renowned author. His white hair and beard match the wrinkles on his face. He rubbed his left leg, hoping to relieve the pain. It still ached where his nephew, Gaston, shot him. The poor boy, locked away in an asylum, with little to no explanation as to why he did it.

The pain was a constant reminder to Verne… a reminder of his own mortality, and it scared him. He left behind a legacy in his stories of science and adventure, but was it enough, he wondered? Do these ‘flights of fancy’ mean anything beyond the pages on which it was written?

Pardon moi, monsieur,” came a voice, startling Verne. “Are you Jules Verne?”

He looked up from his newspaper to see a tall, lanky young man standing next to him. He bowed slightly, a bowler hat rested in his hand over his heart. Through his burly mustache and thick accent, Verne knew the young man had to be from Eastern Europe. His dark clothes reminded Verne of an undertaker. He hoped that was not the case.

Oui, may I help you?” Verne asked.

“I am Nikola Tesla,” he said. “I am a great admirer of your work, Monsieur Verne. I apologize for interrupting you, but your housekeeper said I might find you here. I was hoping I could have a moment of your time.”

Verne thought for a moment before nodding and motioning for him to sit down. Tesla was overjoyed as he sat in the chair across from Verne. Before he could say anything, the waiter came over to the two men.

Voulez-vous un café, monsieur?” he asked Tesla.

Oui, merci?” he replied. “Et un verre d’eau s’il vous plait.” Tesla waited for the waiter to depart before he said anything, but Verne spoke first.

“From your accent, I can assume you are from Eastern Europe, Monsieur Tesla. Austria or Hungary, am I correct?” Verne inquired.

“Serbia, Monsieur Verne, but it is part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so you are quite correct.”

“And what brings you to Amiens? Surely you did not come here just to get my autograph?” Verne quipped.

Non, Monsieur…” Tesla stated, but stopped while the waiter brought over his coffee and set it down in front of him before leaving. “I work for the Continental Edison Company. I was sent here to work on your cities electrical system. I thought I might get the chance to speak with you before I return to Paris.”

“Edison, well, I must thank you for the electric lights,” Verne commended. “It is better than writing by candlelight at three in the morning.”

Tesla smiled and nodded in appreciation of the compliment. “Thank you, Monsieur Verne. Perhaps I can inspire you in another way,” Tesla remarked as he pulled out a folded piece of paper from his coat and handed it to Verne.

“What is this?” he asked. “I thought you weren’t looking my autograph.”

“No, no … this is something that your words inspired me to create.”

Verne’s curiosity was peaked as he unfolded the paper. When he saw what was inside, his eyes grew as large as hen’s eggs. It was an engine, one so complicated in design that Verne could not understand the intricacies of what he was looking at. Around the engine was a crude drawing of a ship, a submersible ship that resembled his description of the Nautilus from his novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Incroyable,” Verne whispered, amazed at what he saw. “What is it?”

“A steam-powered oscillating electric generator,” Tesla explained. “It can generate 20 times the electrical power of anything today, maybe more. This could power a ship, like your Nautilus, don’t you think?”

“Indeed … indeed it could, but it would take a ton of coal just to generate the amount of steam you would need for such an engine, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Yes, but not with this,” Tesla said as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small test tube. Inside were a few small blue stones that glowed slightly. He handed it to Verne, who stared at them in awe.

“What on Earth are they?” Verne asked.

“They’re from a meteor that fell near my home in Serbia,” Tesla began to explain, until the waiter stepped up and brought him his coffee and a glass of water, as he requested. He waited until the waiter departed to continue his explanation. “It generates a constant heat that never seems to die out. Here, observe…”

Tesla took the cork off the test tube vial and poured out one small meteorite into the glass of water. The blue rock began to bubble and burn, raising the temperature of the water quite rapidly. Soon, the water was boiling as steam arose from the glass. Tesla took a spoon and pulled out the tiny rock before dropping it on the table.

“You can pick it up, Monsieur, it won’t burn you.”

Verne reached down and tentatively touched it with his fingertips, until he realized how cool the rock was and he picked it up and held it in his hand. “Monsieur Tesla, this is quite, well… Remarquable!

“It burns on and on, without any reduction in size or mass,” Tesla boasted proudly. “It could change the world of science and industry as we know it.”

“Is there any more of this meteor?” Verne asked. “Where does it come from?”

“I have a colleague at the Royal Astrological Society who discovered a comet he named Uriel, after the archangel,” Tesla explained. “Fragments from Uriel are impacting the Earth from the Urals to the Alps and across North America as the comet passes by. We are working on a method to detect the fragments of meteorite. So far, I’ve collected nearly 500 kilograms.”

“You are an incredibly talented young man, Monsieur Tesla,” Verne said as he handed him the meteor, dropping it in the tube. Verne then folded the paper and handed it back. “But, what does this have to do with an old man like me? I am a writer, not a scientist.”

“Your stories have inspired me to pursue new avenues of science,” Tesla said. “I would like to collaborate with you on some ideas that I have. I have the scientific knowledge, you have an incredible imagination. Perhaps, together, we can bring about a new age of science and technology.”

“Won’t that interfere with your work at the Edison Company?” Verne asked.

“I have already put in my notice to leave my position with Edison,” Tesla explained. “I am planning to go to the United States to pursue my own dreams, but I wanted to work with you before I go.

“Besides, I don’t want my ideas to come under an Edison patent instead of my own. Something like this,” he said, shaking his design at Verne, “could change the course of human history. It just needs a little imagination to make it come true. You, Monsieur Verne, are a master of imagination. Imagine what we could accomplish together?”

Verne sat there, intrigued by the young man’s offer. For the first time, he saw how his novels can influence the future of mankind. “Very well, Monsieur Tesla. Where do we begin?”

# # #

51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Chapter 3 of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

We need a little more “steampunk” in our sci-fi/fantasy reading

11110004269Steampunk is defined as “a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.” To me, it’s more than modern technology with a Victorian twist. This genre has been on the rise with its push in video games with the award winning Bioshock franchise, TV series like Steampunkd, and in books, starting with the Godfather of Steampunk, Jules Verne, to authors like Cherie Priest and Michael Moorcock.

Some people view it more as a fashion style, combining Victorian-era sensibilities with brass fittings, gauges and gears. Weird optics, mechanical arms and powerful weapons are the backbone of steampunk style, but again, it’s the story behind the style that makes it appealing.

I always imagined a meeting in France between Nikola Tesla and Jules Verne in the spring of 1882, discussing the possibilities of Verne’s creations using Tesla’s technology. This would be the ideal setting of where it all began. The birth of Steampunk as we know it today.

One of the best representations of Steampunk in film is the Japanese animated film, Steamboy. Though most of the Steampunk technology in the film was represented by weapons, it is still a wonderful tribute to the genre. Steamboy tells the story of Ray Steam, a British boy in 1863 England, and how the invention of a “steamball” pitted Robert Stephenson, the first master of the steam engine, against Ray’s father, Edward, and his “Steam Castle” at the London Exposition. It’s style, look and feel could make any Steampunk aficionado jump for joy. Another great example of Steampunk is the Japanese TV series, Fullmetal Alchemist. It combines the style and look of Steampunk with alchemy and magic.

Steampunk inventor/author/mechanic Jake von Slatt said, “To some, ‘steampunk’ is a catch all term. To me, it is essentially the intersection of technology and romance.” That’s quite an opinion. I think Steampunk does have a bit of a romantic flair, especially in the wardrobe. Men’s attire is very masculine in Steampunk while the women are sexy and feminine. In both cases, the trend is very fashion forward, evoking strength and power while being strangely attractive.

I’ve started to bring some Steampunk into my own writing. Though my Forever Avalon novels are more medieval fantasy, in contrast, through my stories, they are moving forward in look and technology. Like Fullmetal Alchemist, I am trying to weave those elements together with things slowly coming of age. In my next novel, The Outlander War, I am leaning more towards the Renaissance while keeping some of the medieval fantasy elements there.

I created weapons I call GunStars, named after the ships in The Last Starfighter movie (one of my favorite sci-fi movies of the 80’s). They look like oversized flintlock pistols, using cartridges containing alchemical mixtures that, when combined with the magic within the GunStar, fires explosive rounds. From fireballs and ‘magic missiles’ to acid rain and hail, these weapons make even the more novice warriors more formidable.

I realize that these creations of mine are not 100% Steampunk, but they were inspired by it. Steampunk is as Jake von Slatt said, “an intersection” of technology and whatever your imagination brings to the table. Don’t think of it as outdated, but rather a futuristic twist on history. That’s some that can spark the curiosity of any reader.

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt

Doctor Who, Steampunk and Time Travel are some of my favorite anachronisms

[UNSET]“The straightest line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting!” That’s a quote from the third Doctor from the long running British sci-if television series Doctor Who.

I will admit, if I haven’t already, that I am a diehard Whovian. I was introduced to Doctor Who in college in the 1980s. I saw this strange man wearing a scarf that had to be over 20 feet long, fighting robot tanks with a screwdriver and a blue box.

It was watching Doctor Who that made me realize that I felt like an anachronism, that I was born on the wrong time. Some people might relate this to reincarnation, but I don’t really know if I believe in that. I just know that I feel out-of-place in this modern-day and age.

Oh don’t get me wrong, I love the modern conveniences we have today. I prefer indoor plumbing, modern medicine and the Internet. It’s weird that when I look at movies from the 30s or 40s, or even period pieces from the late 1800s, I get nostalgic and I am awash with a sick feeling, almost like being homesick.

It’s ironic that, when you look at television and movies from the past, they all strived to look ahead to the future.Did you know that the original Lost in Space TV series I the 60s was set in the 1980s? Or that the Back to the Future movies were looking ahead to the 2000s? The world didn’t quite turn out that way for us, but we’re getting close. They did just get an actual hoverboard working recently.

I think that why I like Doctor Who so much, all the modern convinces inside a flying time machine that can take you to anywhere in time and space. At the same time, I’m also a big fan of steampunk. The outlandish Victorian style combined with modern technology is absolutely amazing to me. My wife and I would love to decorate our home in steampunk.

I think that’s what we need today. We need a little old fashion style and sensibility combined with modern technology and thinking. That’s what steampunk represents, bringing two worlds together to make a functional lifestyle.

I don’t want to get political here, believe me I don’t. Our world today is so combative when it comes to either the left or the right that you can’t have conversations on even the simplest of topics. I refuse to talk politics with my daughter in the same room because she is so passionate that she gets argumentative.

I remember the old saying, “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” I think we are headed down that path in the world today. We are so busy looking to the future that we forget the teachings of the past.

gallery_k9_p1_03So, let’s all climb into the TARDIS and take a stroll through time so that, as the Doctor would say, “You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don’t alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views.” (By the way, that was said by my Doctor, Tom Baker, the 4th Doctor!)