4 Steampunk Must Reads

For those of you with a literary bent, here are some amazing, and possibly overlooked, books dealing with Steampunk.

Doctor Grordbort’s Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory

Think of it as a Sears catalog for ray guns. Everything a planet-hopping adventurer could need. The author, Greg Broadmore, has thrown in the kitchen sink on this one. In addition to the various rayguns sold by his emporium (Dr. Grordborts Infallible Aether Oscillators) he has armored suits (like the Ignas Fraunhofer III Gas Driven Gadabout), robotic moving couches ( Chairlord 2200), along with straight up robotic servants (Automaitre D’). There are even some comics at the end to exemplify the exploits of Lord Cockswain. Buy it now.

 

Doctor Grordbort Presents: Victory (Dr. Grordbort Presents Victory: Scientific Adventure Violence)

More adventures with Lord Cockswain. The subhead says it all: Scientific Adventure Violence for Young Men & Literate Women. Mr. Cockswain aims to bring order to the galaxy by obliterating anything that personally offends him. And he’s got the rayguns to back him up. Filled with mock advertorials inviting you to join up with the “British Colonial Expeditionary Forces.” It also comes with a complete bestiary of Venus. Such a value!

 

The Omnibus of Doctor Bill Shakes and the Magnificent Ionic Pentatetrameter

Technically not out yet (May 11th) this proves to be a tremendous addition to any steampunk aficionado. Who could beat Will Shakespeare gone steampunk? The dialogue alone is worth the price of admission. Will Romeo have a mechanical arm? Will Hamlet be a cyborg? The possibilities are endless (as long as they contain gears and springs).

 

Bartleby’s Book of Buttons Vol. 1: The Far Away Island

Okay, so technically not a book, this iPad app will appeal to anyone who has a love for gears, levers, and of course buttons. Bartleby collects buttons. In this interactive tale, he sets off to a mysterious island to find a new button for his collection. There’s plenty of button pushing fun with this book. Plus, if you dig it, there’s a sequel: Bartleby’s Book of Buttons Vol. 2: The Button at the Bottom of the Sea.

Happy adventuring fellow gear-heads.

Tim Kane

Steampunk Shakespeare

What if William Shakespeare had lived in Victorian times? What would he make of mechanical engines and steam-power? That’s the premise behind The Omnibus of Doctor Bill Shakes and the Magnificent Ionic Pentatetrameter.

I discovered this contest by happenstance, trolling through the Twitterverse. The concept so intrigued me, I had to give it a go. Truth be told, this was the hardest story I’ve ever written. I had to balance good storytelling with accuracy to the Bard’s intent (and sometimes actual lines) while incorporating stempunk elements. It’s also the work I’m most proud of to date.

My contribution to the Omnibus was The Malefaction of Tybalt’s Mechanical Armature. I set a scene of Romeo and Juliet in post Civil War America. Why hadn’t anyone else ever thought to do that? Civil War is tailor made to the sort of family rivalry integral to the Shakespeare story. There were many possibilities, yet I opted to center my tale on Tybalt. He was an escaped slave whose sister was Juliet (still on the plantation). Romeo and the Montegues were the plantation owners.

Rather than take on the whole war, I set the story in Kansas (as state with leanings toward both side in the conflict). The town is run by the Capulets, who own a mining company. He’s also adept with mechanics and has built Tybalt a mechanical arm to replace the one that was sheared off in a cotton gin accident. (Romeo was running the gin, thus fueling Tybalt’s hatred).

I was incredibly nervous when submitting this story. What if the folks a Doctor Fantastique’s Show of Wonders didn’t pick it up? Where else was I going to sell a story about a steampunk Tybalt? I couldn’t really even reslant it. It was them or nothing. Luckily, it sold and many revisions later, the tale will appear in the omnibus May 11th.

Writing this tale also helped me reimagine a manuscript I’d written (and rewritten) over five years. One agent read though it and finally passed. It had potential, yet I couldn’t stomach rewriting it another time. It was going to go into the drawer forever. That is, until I realized I could tweak the tale and set it as a steampunk tale. This not only worked, but revitalized my interest in the manuscript.

The power of the Bard shines through, even when he’s dealing with cogs and top hats. Be sure to check out The Omnibus of Doctor Bill Shakes and the Magnificent Ionic Pentatetrameter, for sale May 11th.

Tim Kane