Out of the Box: A Steampunk Event

Notes from an Orange Bookfaire panel discussion at Chapman University
Report by Louella Nelson       www.LouellaNelson.com

James Blaylock (Homunculus,The Aylesford Skull, and others)
Tim Powers (How to be Among the Graves; NYT best-selling author)Suzanne Lazear (Innocent Darkness and others)

The cover of a French translation of a Blaylock novel showing the ubiquitous airbus

James Blaylock and Tim Powers hung around with Phillip K. Dick in the 70’s and steeped themselves in beer at the local pub in Orange, California, while they discussed the “greats” in literature as prelude to an as-yet unheralded fiction genre, steampunk. The Victorian Era fascinated these men and provided the foundational setting for many of their novels and themes.

Dick says of Blaylock’s prose, “A magical world, magically presented…having journeyed there you will not wish to leave, nor ever to forget.”

Blaylock’s website and new title, The Aylesford Skull, mention his roots in the once-unknown genre: “The first new steampunk novel in over twenty years from one of the genre’s founding fathers!”
“Blaylock is a singular American fabulist.”William Gibson

Wearing a feathered hat, waist-cinch, and fingerless gloves, Suzanne Lazear expressed keen interested in fashion. She dresses “steampunk” for her speaking engagements and waxes eloquent on the pleasures of choosing a wardrobe to match her fanciful imaginings and costume her characters. Steeped in the history and scope of the genre, and excited about the possibilities of mixing steampunk with elements from vampire fiction and other contemporary fantasy fiction genres, she acknowledged she was pleased to be paneling with two of the great steampunk authors, Blaylock and Powers.

Some definitions:

Steam = Featuring technology that is anything but electric; steam-driven inventions that take science beyond the Victorian era which inspires the settings of many steampunk novels and films. Some of the common transportation items: air busses, trains, and skate-boards that soar.

Punk = the spirit of resistance and rebellion that characterizes the central characters of the stories–with an underlayment of decency and moral righteousness.

Panelists’ websites:

James Blaylock  www.jamespblaylock.com

http://www.sybertooth.com/blaylock/index.htm Also of interest is the Blaylock Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Blaylock

Disney picked up Tim Powers’ novel for the film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Tim Powers   http://www.theworksoftimpowers.com/ Also of interest is the Powers Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Powers Of note is that Disney optioned his book On Stranger Tides for the film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Suzanne Lazear   http://suzannewrites.blogspot.com/ And her page on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4342615.Suzanne_Lazear

Other authors to check out:

O’Donnel’s Modesty Blaze

Susan Clay Griffiths’ God Save the Queen

Pavane by Keith

RobertsMayhew’s books for background on Victorian life, especially London street life

William S. Burroughs’ novels (a satirical writer who influenced Blaylock)

Films to check out:

Hugo (2011 based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick pub. 2007)

The Adventures of Baron Von Munchausen (1911, 1943, 1988, and others under various titles based on The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolf Erich Raspe, pub. 1785)

H.G. Wells’ Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1907, 1916, 1952, and others based on the book pub. 1870); Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959, 1978, and others based on the book pub. 1864);

Around the World in Eighty Days (1919 and 1956 based on the book pub. 1873)

Additional research:

Steampunk Scholar http://steampunkscholar.blogspot.com/2010/11/idols-eye-by-james-blaylock.html

There was a First Annual Steampunk World’s Fair May 18-20, 2012: http://steampunkworldsfair.com/

EBay sells steampunk “stuff”: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=steampunk

There’s a steampunk “lab” to collect steampunk projects: http://www.steampunklab.com/

There’s a repository for your steampunk inventions: http://www.instructables.com/tag/type-id/category-technology/channel-steampunk/

Here’s an emporium where you can buy steampunk goggles and clothing: http://www.steampunkemporium.com/steam.php?gclid=CLDh74_zzrICFbSmPAodPE4AjA

2 responses to “Out of the Box: A Steampunk Event

  1. Enjoyed touring your zine!


  2. Pingback: The Dastardly Dandy Demondaz speaks to Lady Noctis « thebitemagazine

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