Steampunk Sunday: Steampunk of other Cultures

coollogo_com-176107698When people think of Steampunk, their first thoughts are of Victorian England, cucumber sandwiches, gears, gadgets and corsets, but in the last few year I’ve been seeing a lot more multicultural Steampunk stories, and I must say, I’m excited about future prospects for the genre.

Steampunk is coming into its own; breaking out from under the yoke of assumptions of what Steampunk should be to the freedom of possibilities and what it can be. Characters of other nationalities are taking center stage in stories and I think this will strengthen the genre even more and bring us even more stories of wonder and excitement. How about Steampunk Ninjas? Or Steampunk stories placed in India or even Africa? Imagine flying over the Dark Continent or the burgeoning Australian outback in an airship? What mechanical creatures will await us, inspired by exotic places of South America or even closer to home? What if there were Steampunk Native Americans? What if we headed to the Great White North via a steam-powered submergible under the arctic ice? It boggles and excites me that there are new and exciting adventures waiting for us.

Yet we shouldn’t limit it to just nationalities. Another diversity we should consider is sexual diversity. With the growing acceptance of the gay and lesbian lifestyles, characters of this sexual orientation add a new flavour and a new dynamic to Steampunk stories. I will admit, the latter may take some readers a bit to get used to, but isn’t that was fiction is about? Letting our minds explore the wonders and possibilities? We shouldn’t restrict our creative energies to the same old trope. Let’s spice it up a bit, with flavours from all over the world.

What do you see in the future for Steampunk stories?

Scifi Sunday: Cyberpunk

A sub-genre of science fiction, Cyberpunk is slowly entering mainstream media through movies and books. Cyberpunk is near-future setting where the majority of the world is controlled with computers or other cybernetic instruments.  The genre’s vision of a troubled future is often the opposite of a utopian world, with dark undertone of population control by a larger entity, either corporate or government. You’ve probably been exposed to cyber punk as both The Matrix and Blade Runner are considered to be Cyberpunk movies.

http://www.techopedia.com/definition/2392/cyberpunk

The word ‘Cyberpunk’ was coined in the early 80’s by Bruce Bethke in the title of his novel of the same name, and was combined to reflect the elements of his novel, which were both cybernetic and ‘punk’. Since then, Cyberpunk has developed its own sub-genre which have come to include Post-Cyberpunk, Decopunk, Clockpunk and the relevantly new one of Nanopunk.

http://bestsciencefictionbooks.com/best-cyberpunk-books.php

Cyberpunk could be considered the future setting of the Steampunk world as both are technology-heavy where the darker part of science and technology is allowed to flourish. With the rise in popularity of Steampunk, it’s safe to bet that the popularity of Cyberpunk won’t be that far behind.

Supernatural Sunday: Demons of The Watchtower – Poltergeists

coollogo_com-772150In PROPECIES OF MORTALS (book five of my paranormal series), two characters come in contact with the poltergeists chained up in the sub-basement of Terin Global. I first mentioned these creatures back in book three OF COVENS AND PACKS…

The basement and sub-basements housed all kinds of gateways and dangerous creatures, not to mention the two nasty poltergeists chained down with spells and other magical charms.

When I first wrote that sentence, I didn’t think much about it, but as the story for book five progressed, the idea came back about what lurked in the sub-basement, and I decided maybe a character or two should check out what’s down there. Like the other creatures that I’ve created, I wanted these to be based off a real entity.

In my books, poltergeists are physical creatures that can pass through just about any material except for iron. It can make duplicates of itself and surround it’s victim or make a prey thing they are outnumbered. They feed on the life-force of humans, or will absorb a ghost or spirit. They are telepathic and can read what frightened their victim and then assume that fear. Once trapped, these poltergeists memorize their prey, allowing them to slowly feed.

Because they are a solid creature when docile, my poltergeists can be physically attacked, which is about the only way you’re going to get away from them.

A true poltergeist, some say, is a manifestation of negative energy. I found this concept interesting. The idea that our negative thoughts could, over time, produce an invisible entity strong enough to move things, is frightening and fascinating at the same time.

Steampunk Sunday; The Toys of Steampunk

coollogo_com-176107698When I first looked into writing a Steampunk story, I was captivated by the technology of the genre. Captivated and more than a little intimidated. The little (or big) gizmos and gadgets are an important element in the genre. Some would even say it’s what makes the story, and as creative as I like to think I am, technical stuff is not my cup of tea. It reminds me too much of math. 😛

I wrote a post some time back about this subject.

https://darkeconteur.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/how-much-steampunk-does-it-take-to-be-steampunk/

The gadgets in Steampunk are as fantastical as the worlds and clothing. They are built with cogs and gears, brass and metal, but as strange or silly they might look, the reader must believe they actually work or risk pulling their audience from the story. It doesn’t matter how big or small, or even how far-fetched, if you can make the reader believe the technology exists or could exist, then you bring so much more to your story than just another fantasy gadget.

Check out these Steampunk gizmos.

http://www.pinterest.com/marshallg/gears-gadgets-gizmos/

http://www.pinterest.com/mandersmadness/steampunkitemsgadgetsgizmos/

Your ships can navigate the ocean, the air, or even space if you choose. Your weapons can be clockwork  and shoot bullets, or house a chamber inside that creates deadly rays. You’re only limited by your imagination, so let your creativity soar and see where it takes you.

Scifi Sunday – Soft Science Fiction

There are many sub-genres of Science Fiction. Last time I talked about Hard Science Fiction and this time around, I want to discuss Soft Science Fiction.

Soft scifi is often considered stories that revolved around the characters and their lives; the social aspects instead of the technology. While the technology is important, it’s more of a backdrop for the story.  As with most character driven novels, they rely heavily on the reader’s connection to the characters, instead of how plausible the technology might be.

This genre came into being in the late 60’s and early 70’s, but there are no real set boundaries between the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’. In the early science fiction movies that I grew up with, many of them focused on the science for the plot, with the characters there to explain and fight, but over the years, character interaction became more of a focus than the actual science, but that could be changing. For instance, the Star Trek franchise is a mixture of both, with the technology sometimes playing a larger role than the story of the characters.

Personally, I prefer the softer side to both read and write, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to create new technology to help my characters achieve their goals.

What about you? How do you like your scifi? Soft or hard?

Steampunk Sunday; Inspirational Art.

One thing that attracted me to the Steampunk genre was the art. Now I’m not talking about the oodles of pictures of everyday things with gears and cogs glued onto them. No. I’m talking about the art inspired by the genre. Beautifully drawn worlds that depict strange and wonderful worlds full of flying machines, strange inventions, and beautiful outfits. If you go on Pinterest you’ll see some incredible artwork. Some of them just floor me they’re so beautiful.

http://cghub.com/images/view/150634/

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/29766047510808870/

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/29766047510776133/

It’s pictures like this that inspire me to write Steampunk. To be a part of this fantastical world of gears and steam and Victorian sensibility, to add to these worlds, or create a new one where just about anything goes.

If you write Steampunk, what about it inspires you?

Supernatural Sunday: Werewolves of THE WATCHTOWER

Never has there been a monster so versatile as the werewolf. Out of all the monsters, I think these are the most dangerous; the most frightening, not because they transform into snarling monsters, but because they can look, act and live just like regular people. They are literally a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Other monsters cannot blend into society as well as a werewolf; something always gives them away, but a werewolf, you wouldn’t know one unless you saw him transform.

When I brainstormed my werewolves for The Watchtower series, like everything else, I wanted them to be unique. I don’t care for the idea that they could not control the beast within them, but I wanted to show that they were just as dangerous. The werewolves that live in the forest that surrounds the Spire, are more dog like; there is an Alpha male and the pack does what he says, no arguments. They’re a fun loving bunch, a simple folk who enjoy the company of their pack and don’t get all hung up on the how’s or why’s of how their species came to be.

They know their ancestors were cursed for helping the vampyres escape from the wrath of the old Gods. They live peacefully next to the vampyres, looking out for them and keeping them safe from the world at large. It’s only when they transform into huge, hairless demon creatures that they become scary, and it’s a side of them they don’t hide from, and will use to get what they want.

Paranormal Sunday; Vampyres of THE WATCHTOWER

When I decided to add vampires to my novels, I wanted them to be traditional, but different. I thought for a while about how they could be original so I made a list of character traits found in many vampire stories, and went from there.

Vampires are an old monster. Myths about them have been around for centuries. I’ve always thought that creatures that old would be arrogant, but not in a mean sort of way. Living for thousands of years gives you a unique perspective on humanity. Something that a mortal person wouldn’t understand. I think they would feel detached from the century they were living in, which might come off as being cold, especially when it came to other beings.

How to tie them into the story? That was another problem. I had to include the main characteristic of a vampire-their need for human blood, so I looked up some myths about blood online. Blood has always been a mystical substance in all ancient cultures. Whether it’s the colour, texture or the fact it is within us and we need it to live. Also, I needed a way to relate some backstory. I remember watching a movie about a vampire that was actually Judas. His punishment for betraying Jesus was to be turned into a vampire. Same with Dracula-for renouncing God after the death of his wife. Turning humans into vampires would be a good punishment so that is how my vampires came to be. Punished for betraying the Gods.

As for why they were punished, well, you’ll just have to read and find out.

Erotic Sunday; Has erotica gone mainstream?

I don’t think there’s a person on the planet (at least in the Western Hemisphere) who hasn’t heard in one way or another, about 50 Shades of Grey. While some consider it erotica, others don’t and I’m not about to argue its merits on it either way. Whether you like the book or not, the one thing you can’t deny, is that it brought the erotic genre out of the closet, so to speak.

For years, erotica was the forbidden genre, dominated by anonymous writers who did not want the accolades for fear of a backlash by a society that saw it as immoral and depraved. There is no doubt that people read erotica and that they always have, but it’s always been a secret sort of thing; like watching porn. You do it, but just don’t tell the neighbours.

Yet like its visual counterpart, erotica has become incredibly popular. People are admitting they not only read it, but enjoy reading it as well. Erotic writers are making themselves known and more books are including a steamier side to their love scenes.

Is this all because of one series?

In my opinion; no. As society relaxes on the old sexual taboos, I think it was bound to occur. If you know me, then you know what I think of the books, but I give credit where it’s due. The fact that 50 Shades was the catalyst will be its only contribution to the genre. I’m excited now (get your mind out of the gutter) about what will come. With writers feeling comfortable revealing what they write, and having a market with readers who are more than willing to read, I think we are on the verge of a new sexual revolution; an erotic revolution as it were.

Viva la Revolution!

Erotic Sunday: Some titillating facts.

Erotica is a genre I’ve only recently started to write. When I mean recently, I’m talking within the last couple of years. The interest started as a skill challenge for me after a beta stated that my first attempt felt a bit mechanical. With the popularity explosion of FS of G, it got me thinking about the origins of erotica.

Erotic content has been around since the time of the ancient Romans and Greek. It has been a part of literature even during the Medieval and Renaissance periods, where poems and stories were circulated to a limited readership. With the 17th and 18th centuries, it became more public with poems written by Sir Charles Sedley, Charles Sackville, 6th Earl of Dorset, and George Etherege. John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester was a known ‘rake’ and many of the works by these other authors were attributed to him simply because Rochester was better known.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erotic_literature

From the information I read, the church had a great influence over erotica; being the moral guide for the people and in some instances, the fodder for the stories, and yet it survives. Erotica has become more popular within this last century than, I think, in any other period. Why is that? Could it be because the church doesn’t have the influence it did? Or that we as a society are more comfortable with our sexuality than we were?

One thing is for certain; erotica will not be going away any time soon. There’s nothing like a steamy story to get the old heart pumping and put some spice back into our lives. Let’s us know we’re still alive.

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