Hello, and welcome to the darkside...
Romance. Fantasy. Sci-Fi. Mystery. Literary. We love to put things, including books, into hard defined categories. It makes sense, we’ve been bombarded by so much information, even before the internet era, it just makes life easier. But thank goodness for the rebels, the mutations,. If everything remained in its pre-set category we never would have grown as a species. There would be no internet, no antibiotics, no Firefly (the last would be a crime against nature.) As the saying goes, art often imitates life. In recent decades, we have seen a great surge in the blending of genres in all art forms, especially the book world. Vampires, once only confined to the annals of horror, now find themselves the lead in many romance novels. Mysteries, once centered around an asexual sleuth with the crime in the forefront, are now taking place in space or the crime takes a backseat to the sleuth’s love life. And in the case of Steampunk, the Victorian Era now finds itself awash in amazing technology and sometimes modern sensibilities like the rights of women. We are living to see the rise of the mutants.
My love of amalgam of genres is what drew me to the world of Steampunk, even making me wish to contribute to this growing sub-genre. I personally cannot get through something that doesn’t contain elements of various genres anymore, let alone spend a year writing one. Variety is the spice of life, and I like my food like my books, on fire. It combines so many things that I love: England, technology, pure adventure, and I even threw in some werewolves and romance to boot. There’s something in it for everyone. Which is why I think this has become such a popular sub-genre. I cannot be the only one who likes unpredictability and the new. Like the Victorian Era, this the age of advancement.
Steampunk is the perfect example of this innovation trend because it centers around a time of great growth and change, the Industrial Evolution. Trains made it possible to travel great distances in a short time. Machines made it possible to produce mass quantities of goods for the growing population. But what if we had just stopped there? What if plastic was never invented? What if there was no rise of steel? What if women never ventured out of the home? It may have been a simpler time but was it better? As a woman, heck no, but I like most people am sometimes overwhelmed with all the information and choices now available to me. Steampunk wipes that away, at least for 300 pages. And no matter what else books do, no matter how much they evolve, their purpose will always remain the same: as an escape. Why not travel to a complex world where we aren’t cramped on planes but travel by dirigible? Or where clockwork gears and rivets are a fashion norm? (I’ve attended cons, the steampunk outfits are always the most impressive.) And that’s where it all begins. Asking, “Why not?”
There are only three types of story: man against man, man against nature, man against self. Every story stems from one of those conflicts. But like in people, there are many shades of gray, billions in fact. We all have a unique view on this life, one that often draws from multiple sources, a collection of experiences and thoughts. We are not simple and that’s what makes a person interesting. What we create in art to reflect that fact should not be simple either. We should always be moving forward, trying new things, taking elements of what we enjoy and combining them with other things we like. That’s how we evolve. That’s how we move from the caves to traveling to the moon. How penicillin was invented. And how the best of the Victorian era was transported into the future for your reading enjoyment. Mutant and proud. Why not?
Until next time, this is Jennifer Harlow signing out from the darkside...
Song of the Week: Happy by Pharell
I'm Reading: The Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Woverton ***