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Archives: Steampunk

YA Podcast Episode 49

YA Podcast Episode 49

 

I appeared on YA Podcast again this week. I went on the show to present my Steampunk novel, Rescue OR, Royer Goldhawk’s Remarkable Journal.

In related news, a week ago Amy Evans and I presented the first ever episode of YA Hangout, a Google Hangout spin off of YA Podcast. Our guest, Misty Provencher, came on to talk about her latest release, Hale Maree.

You can watch that episode below:

“Ah, the Shape of Things to Come” OR, How the 1960 Movie of The Time Machine Started With Good Intentions but Became Creepy and Flawed

“Ah, the Shape of Things to Come” OR, How the 1960 Movie of The Time Machine Started With Good Intentions but Became Creepy and Flawed

The Time Machine, one of the original “Steampunk” novels by H.G. Wells, has a special place in my heart. It was a major stylistic influence for Rescue OR, Royer Goldhawk’s Remarkable Journal, in that it is a frame story that begins with a nameless narrator and quickly delves into another narrator’s story– the main event of the novel. Today I watched the 1960 film adaptation and I have a bone to pick with it. I will warn that this comparison is going to be spoiler-tastic. This is all the warning you get. You’ve had a hundred and eighteen years to read the novel and fifty-three years to see the movie. At this point, if you complain, you’ll be like all of the people last month who got mad when people spoiled The Great Gatsby. Didn’t you read it in eleventh grade?

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Rod Taylor looking like a 1960s Sci-Fi hero with his anachronistic haircut.

The novel of The Time Machine is essentially about the stratification of classes. The future that the inventor sees is the result of the working classes and the wealthy evolving separately. The wealthy never have to work or struggle to live, and– as a result– they devolve into complacent children– the Eloi. They are small, strange people with a simple language who do not read and do not even find their own food. The only sign that they are anything but happy little Boohbah dolls is the fear they have at night. Meanwhile, the working class has evolved into the Morlocks, a pasty  light-sensitive race of people that live in factories underground and continue their function of feeding and clothing the upper (literally) class. The only change is that they come out at night and kidnap Eloi to cannibalize. The poor are feeding on the rich for once.

The 1960 film adaptation of The Time Machine takes a very different turn on the themes of H.G. Wells’ speculative novel. The theme changes from class warfare to general warfare. It’s fascinating, early on, when a diversion is added to the inventor’s initial time travel; he stops off in World War I and World War II and finds himself horrified at how much worse the war-like nature of his countrymen has become. Despite the fact that the story seems to still be set in England (as evidenced by the blimps in World War II) yet nobody but the ginger has an appropriate accent, I really enjoyed this diversion. Of course, Wells couldn’t have written it as he wasn’t a prophet. It was a nice modern update. Then things got a little heavy-handed on the war side and soon the theme of the original source was completely thrown out.

Weena, the Eloi girl that the inventor befriends, is now a woman. The writers of the film make a major mistake in developing a romantic relationship between “George” and Weena, while still keeping a childlike casting and even having the inventor call her “just a child.” If she’s just a child, George, then you are a pedophile. Great job, MGM.

The writers of the 1960 film adaptation take it one step further, and in doing so, break the plot. Instead of the excursion into the tunnel being an attempt to find the time machine, the film has Weena kidnapped by Morlocks, damsel-ing her and changing the motivation for the journey itself. The way in which she is kidnapped is what breaks the conventions of the novel, which the writers still use without consideration for why they worked. You see, in the novel, the Morlocks live underground without light and come out during the night to kidnap their food source. In the novel, they are so light-sensitive that they are hurt by as little as a match-worth of light. This creates a truly horrific scene in the tunnel when the inventor is engulfed in pitch black, able to feel the hands of the Morlocks on him, but unable to keep a match lit for more than a few seconds. And he’s running out. The movie, however, has the Morlocks using an air-raid siren to hypnotize the Eloi into walking to their deaths, removing the need for the Eloi to fear the night. The Morlocks are shown in full light with their glowing red eyes that now don’t make sense (because glowing eyes would indicate the need for night vision), yet they are still repelled by a lit match. Things just don’t add up!

And then the movie makes its biggest misstep. George saves the Eloi, enlightening them, when he teaches a man how to punch. George, fraught with anguish that the world has been destroyed by nuclear war and violence, saves them by teaching them the lost concept of violence. *facepalm*

They flee the cave, and all of the Eloi, who have never before had to work or climb or even try to save someone from drowning, climb out of the tunnel without a second thought. Meanwhile, Weena, the prettiest woman, needs George to drag and push her up the tunnel. This, combined with the trope of the older, experienced man teaching the simple, helpless woman the ways of life and love,  made this movie actually more sexist than a Victorian novel.

From here the movie returns to the plot of the book. The Morlocks open the door to the time machine to trap him. He fights them off long enough to take off into the fourth dimension. He goes forward before going back to his own time. Nobody believes him. He leaves again. Roll credits.

A film adaptation that starts off with good intentions devolves into a contradictory mess with plot-holes and creepy romantic moments. While it is understandable that the film makers of 1960, one year into the early stages of the Vietnam War, might want to change the theme, they essentially broke the source material and made what started as an interesting piece of speculative fiction into a silly action movie.

Royer Goldhawk’s First Review

Royer Goldhawk’s First Review

The digital editions of Rescue OR, Royer Goldhaw’s Remarkable Journal have been out for a few weeks and the first full-length review is in. The reviewer is someone from my home town, a fellow Harry Potter fan, and her start-up review blog on Tumblr is manned by two English majors. Check out Dark Lady Reviews at darkladyreviews.tumblr and read the full review of Rescue here.

Amy Leigh Strickland has created an enormously satisfying steampunk adventure with wild western and fantasy themes running through it; but unlike many novels in those genres, Rescue manages to be simultaneously fast-paced and well researched. We get just enough detail about ingenious mechanics and magical scrolls to keep the action within the realm of fictional possibility, but Strickland never lets her prose get self-indulgent.

BUY!

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Paper or Digital?

Paper or Digital?

The digital versions of Rescue OR, Royer Goldhawk’s Remarkable Journal  are slowly appearing online. You can buy a Kindle or Kobo version now. By the end of May, the book should also be available as a Nook, iBook, or physical paperback book. Perhaps you’ve read the Olympia Heights series thus far and are considering giving Royer a chance. Maybe you have never read my books but love Steampunk. Either way, if you’re considering buying a copy of Rescue, you are an intelligent and magnetic individual and I applaud you. Here is a breakdown of the features and benefits of each version.

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Paperback:
It’s tangible! The paperback is 172 cream-colored pages of awesomeness with four wicked-cool illustrations, not to mention Carly Strickland’s gorgeous cover art. It’s a great book to leave around on your coffee table to impress Steampunk nerds who appreciate retro fonts and things that look cool. The paperback will be available on Amazon.com after it debuts at the Alabama Phoenix Festival on May 24. It will retail for roughly $13 at launch.

Kindle:
The Kindle version will probably make the most sales, selling for $2.99 on the most-popular eReader. It is old-school friendly (formatted to read well on the eInk Kindles) but does not feature any of the illustrations from the paperback. The illustrations aren’t necessary to enjoy the book, but they are awesome. You can read the Kindle version with the Kindle app on most devices. Buy it now.

Kobo:
The Kobo version is a $2.99 ePub that, like the Kindle version, doesn’t have any of the illustrations. That version is also available now. Get it here.

iBooks:
This version requires an iPad to read. I repeat, this version is NOT available on the iPhone. It includes the illustrations from the paperback and will retail for $2.99. Get it here.

Nook:
The Nook ePub, which will retail for $2.99, includes the paperback’s illustrations. If you like art, this may be the version for you. It is available now.

 

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From Rescue OR, Royer Goldhawk’s Remarkable Journal. Illustration by Carly Strickland

Magic, Machines, and Danger!

Magic, Machines, and Danger!

Read the official synopsis for Rescue OR, Royer Goldhawk’s Remarkable Journal. This image is cropped from the back of the paperback wrap design. Carly Strickland is the genius cover designer responsible for this work of font-glory. She totally works for Indie Authors, so check out her site! Like what you see? Download the book’s excerpt here and sign up to be notified at release here. get the book here.

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Steampunk and The Sea of Faith

Steampunk and The Sea of Faith

“The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world”
-Dover Beach
Matthew Arnold

With the theory of evolution, the introduction of antiseptic surgery, and trans-Atlantic telecommunication, it’s easy to see how science became King in the Victorian era. At the start of Victoria’s reign, a ship was needed to carry a courier across the ocean with a message to the Americas, the cause of infections was a horror and a mystery, and creationism was the only theory recognized in the western world. By Victoria’s death in the early 20th Century, the world was a vastly different place and religion, once the dominant force in people’s lives, was receding. It was a crisis of faith for many. Magic was dying.

Jr from The League of Steam

Also on the rise in the Victorian era were science fiction and fantasy. Mary Shelley’s Gothic masterpiece, Frankenstein, and the writings of her American contemporary, Edgar Allen Poe, inspired a generation of writers to create tales that use fantastic circumstances to tell an important story. These writers created new mythology with tales like Dracula and tackled the ethics of science with The Time Machine.

That is why this struggle between science and religion or science and magic (because magic is/was religion to someone somewhere at some time) is such a fantastic theme for Steampunk literature. The League of Steam features ghost-busting cowboys, and vampires are a common enough fixture to warrant a Goodreads list.

This is why I wanted to explore this dynamic in Rescue OR, Royer Goldhawk’s Remarkable Journal. Royer, an engineer, exists in a scientific world that still holds on to its superstition and folklore. He is a logical thinker who doubts the supernatural, and throughout the first leg of his adventure, is repeatedly forced to ask questions about the impossible and unknown.

It’s a relevant issue for Victorian literature, but it’s also relevant to the Victorian revival, Steampunk. Look at the political landscape of today and you’ll see the struggle of science and faith in all kinds of legislation ranging from evolution to climate change to marriage equality. IBM’s prediction machine is calling it now: Steampunk will be popular in mainstream culture by 2014. Some of us have been interested in it for years, for the rest of the world, 2014 will bring about the realization that a hundred and twenty years of history hasn’t changed much. History repeats. The nature of humanity has not changed; we still have the same questions and struggles as we did in 1883.

Royer Goldhawk Cover Reveal

Royer Goldhawk Cover Reveal

Here it is! Three-four months ago I wrote the first draft for an untitled book. I was planning to write a stand-alone fantasy novel, but the story demanded to be a two-part tale. The result, is that part one, Rescue OR, Royer Goldhawk’s Remarkable Journal, will be available in May on every platform I can access (Kobo, Nook, Kindle, Paperback, iPad). At Christmas, we had our friend Peter Moffat (you may have seen him being shoved into a locker by Puck on Glee, or being hit in the head by an exploding wall in The Dark Knight Rises) come over to the studio for a photoshoot.

Five too-big Victorian garments, two unloaded handguns, half-a dozen binder clamps, and one lantern later, we had a blue-screen photo that was pretty darn cool, but not anywhere near print ready. Luckily, I married into an artistic family. Carly Strickland produced this beauty that I can’t wait to upload to Amazon to represent my book. (Psst, authors, she does freelance design work very reasonably).

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Tell me what you think! Leave a comment below.

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