Guest Blog: Brief Steampunk 101 by Lorraine Ulrich

Hello my lovelies 🙂

I’ve had a growing fascination with the Steampunk “movement” for a couple of years now. I love to see it in fashion, and I love to read it in stories. Even with it’s growing popularity, there seems to be quite a few people who aren’t quite sure what it’s all about. (Aside from the gears & goggles, which everyone seems to be familiar with, lol.) So, I asked debut author Lorraine Ulrich to talk a little about the sub-genre, and why she decided to incorperate Steampunk themes into her new release, MECHANICAL MAGIC.

Hello! My name is Lorraine Ulrich, the author of the steampunk novella Mechanical Magic available from Dreamspinner Press! The original inspiration for the story was simply that I wanted to write a story about a character with mechanical wings. From there I had to stop and think about how such a thing would come about. My mind quickly went to the idea of steampunk as a perfect vehicle for that since it is something I’ve loved and been involved in for several years. The visual aesthetic fit with the image my imagination gave for how the wings would look and gave me a chance to indulge my love of world building.

So what is steampunk? Imagine the Victorian era, women in beautiful corseted dressed and men in pressed suits and tall hats with canes on their arms. Now take those images, and put dirty, smokey machinery over it, and don’t forget the goggles! If you do that, you have a little bit of the visual appeal of the steampunk genre. One of the things I love about it is that wonderful juxtaposition of old fashioned elegance and clunky machinery.

In books, steampunk is a genre of science fiction set in the past, usually in the 1800s and sometimes extending all the way to 1930s. However to classify the genre as just science fiction doesn’t cover all the facets of the steampunk. It also includes alternative history and elements of fantasy along with the science fiction. This blending of different pieces of other genres makes steampunk unique in a lot of ways and full of potential for writers and artists. They can be used in an established historical setting, or put together to create new worlds.

The potential of steampunk comes because this period in history was an amazing dichotomy. There is this incredible wealth and optimism about the new science and inventions that were created in that time. Yet its also the time of the industrial revolution when large portions of the population live in incredible poverty and toiled in factories to create these new wonders. Though most steampunk involves Victoriana, and has a distinctly English feel, there is so much more available. This is also the time of the American expansion west, the Civil War, the British Empire, the industrial Robber Barons and the birth of aviation. Perhaps not all of them seem usable for steampunk, but there is no reason they can’t be. In my story I tried to invoke the feeling of the British Empire and the great prejudices that existed in that time.

I know I’m not done exploring all the possibilities that steampunk provides, and I hope to see the unique directions others will go with it.

So… hopefully that cleared things up a bit for those who weren’t quite sure what this Steampunk stuff was all about. Big thank you to Lorraine for taking on the task, and for coming to visit today. You all need to check out her first published novella, MECHANICAL MAGIC!!! (There are elves and gypsies!! *claps*) You can check out our review of the book HERE (it’s a good one, folks!!).

I’m curious what you all think of the growing number of authors/artists who incorperate Steampunk elements into their work. What’s your favorite Steampunk book? Are you nervous to read the sub-genre? What do you like/dislike about it? I’d love to hear what you think. (And say Hi to Lorraine, while you’re at it, this is her FIRST guest blog!! Didn’t she do fantastically!?!)

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