Steampunk with Heart: The Heartbeat of Steampunk: Romancing the Machine
with Jacqueline Garlick and MeiLin Miranda
It’s no accident steampunk has become so popular; here in the 21st century we’re facing an information revolution, just as the 19th century struggled through the industrial revolution. The rise in wearables, Internet-connected everything and, perhaps most troubling, governmental and corporate mining of personal data can alienate one a little. Even as we depend on tech more, we feel less in control of it and the changes it’s bringing to the world.
Enter steampunk and its beautiful, handcrafted machines of gilded cast iron and brass. So many of the stories in this genre reflect both the giddy hope of new technology and the fear of change. Steampunk tech seems more tactile and understandable: the boiler heats up, the steam goes round and round woh woh woh, and Science comes out here, right? It’s a little more human.
Another fun and relatable element of steampunk is how the genre encourages writers to push boundaries, allowing the technologies of today to mingle with those of the past. Throughout the pages of steampunk novels readers are exposed to thought provoking themes, such as man versus machine, or man and machine, united. Or, as in the case of “Lumière,” machine as man’s best friend and protector, as well as evil counterpart.
It is this license of creative freedom that makes steampunk such a tantalizing genre for writers, and such a rewarding and intriguing one for readers. Imagine worlds filled with outrageously crossbred contraptions, tied to epic adventures, laced with memorable stories of love. What more could a reader ask for, right?
In “Lumière,” Eyelet Elsworth searches for her father’s prized possession, thinking it is the answer to all her problems, only to discover—as with all things scientifically developed—her father’s prized possession is capable of things far beyond her wildest expectations, and not all of them are good. Along the way, Eyelet finds love and acceptance in the strangest places, and from the strangest creatures, and learns to fight for what she believes in.
In MeiLin’s “The Machine God,” a mysterious island floats high above a city-state bustling with new industry. No one’s ever been able to reach the island–until a wonder fuel is found, and an inventor uses it to power her gyrocopter to the island.
Even though the people there live in primitive conditions, once magic powered mechanical marvels so terrifying that their coming of age ceremony includes the oath “Magic and Metal No More.” A professor discovers what really powered those marvels, and that human greed, not machines, may be the real obscenity.
All in all, steampunk novels offer readers an escape from reality into worlds filled with mysterious technology of incredible consequence. Steampunk readers are rewarded with lush depictions of times gone by, tinged with dystopian trimmings and characters brimming with heart!
I’m Jacqueline Garlick. Author of YA, New Adult, and Women’s Fiction. I love strong heroines, despise whiny sidekicks, and adore a good story about a triumphant underdog. I love to read, write, paint (walls and paper) and plan cool writing events for cool writers (check out niagarawritersretreatandconference (dot) com.) I have a love/hate relationship with chocolate, grammar, and technology.You will always find a purple wall (or two) in my house (perhaps even a door) and a hidden passageway that leads to a mystery room. (Okay, so you won’t find a hidden passageway but a girl can dream, can’t she?) Oh, and tea. There will always be tea. I love specialty teas…and collecting special teacups from which to drink them. (See website for collection, plus Facebook and Goodreads.)
MeiLin Miranda writes literary fantasy and science fiction set in Victorian worlds. Her love of all things 19th century (except for the pesky parts like cholera, child labor, slavery and no rights for women) has consumed her since childhood, when she fell in a stack of Louisa May Alcott and never got up.