Sunday, October 11, 2009

Steampunk Literature: Steampunk Month at Tor Books

My apologies for be the proverbial day late on this, but this month is "Steampunk Month" at Tor books! Quite an interesting idea for a number of reasons. First, aside from providing a platform for promoting current-day Steampunk books, numerous touchstones regarding Steampunk are being discussed, including "what is" Steampunk music, specifics regarding the emergence of the genre, interpretations of Steampunk in other cultures from the time, and other supplemental topics.

Interestingly, visiting Tor's website led me to pay a visit to the local "faceless national bookseller" to obtain a copy of Boneshaker (by Miss Cherie Priest, her website is here), which I understand to be an exceptional read. When I arrived, I was unable to locate the book in question on the shelves, leading me to impose upon one of the store-workers for assistance. Upon pulling the title up on the computer, the fellow said that " wasn't on the shelf, but in the new 'Steampunk' section"!

Needless to say, I was ecstatic to learn of a portion of the store dedicated to the genre, so I started to peer around the store excitedly, seeking this new comprehensive area... and ended up in a game of "hot & cold" (for those without children or didn't have annoying older siblings, this game revolves around walking around an area looking for a target, while another states aloud "hot" {meaning one is close to the goal}), or cold {one is becoming more distant from the goal}).

After playing this temperature-esqe version of "hide and seek", I located the "new Steampunk" section... to my chagrin! Instead of an impressive central desk, replete with a cacophany of outstanding classic and modern Steampunk books, gadgets, and other items, I was staring at a meger selection of six (6) books, two of which were Verne compliations, and one was a graphic novel. I did end up buying 1/3rd of the display (e.g. two books), but I was most disheartned... but it did, in my mind, only support my original opinion during my discourse with a Miss Vick from SteamCon regarding Steampunk literature.

The longer version of the scenario is here, but the short version is essentially that to be a book vendor at SteamCon in Seattle, one can only see Steampunk books, no other genres being allowed. Following this news from IO9, I felt that particular view-point was self-defeating from a business aspect, by limiting the supply of acceptable books to the paying public. Though there will be some exceptional authors in attendance, such as Mr. Paul Guinan (of Boilerplate fame), Mr. Tim Powers (author of the Anubis Gate), and Miss Cherie Priest (author of the aforementioned Boneshaker), there will be no larger selection of Steampunk literature. I would say the genre has enough work (please visit this link to Steampunkopedia's literary lising), just not enough available work to the general public to enjoy. In the future, I would love to see more of it come available, but I fear that may simply be an empty wish.

Anyways.... do visit and indulge in a plenitude of Steampunk articles on fact and theory, starting with the main clearinghouse website, and followed by specific articles, as shown below...
Their main Steampunk Month link, located here,
a work on "Steampunk as Subculture, found here,
and a view of international Steampunk-era cultures, located here.

and though it is "sold out", do visit the SteamCon website, at:


cherie_priest said...

Hey there - and thanks for your dedication in tracking down BONESHAKER :)

For what it's worth, I just thought I'd mention: Alas, it's not a new "steampunk section" at B&N (where I think I can safely assume you went). It's a month-long promotion being paid for by Tor/Macmillan - beginning October 6 and ending November 5 (I believe). After that, the books will all be returned to science fiction or fantasy, I assume.

But that's also why there's such a narrow selection on the display. Such promotions cost money, so only a few books are typically highlighted.

Anyway, thanks again!
I hope you enjoy the reading :)

Dr. Rafael Fabre said...

Dear Miss Priest,

I'm flattered you've stopped by, madam! Well, I must admit, when I was looking for the Steampunk display, I probably looked a bit foolish eagerly eyeing the large, center aisle display tables, only to have my hopes dashed, but so it goes. (I remain appalled that the "vampire" genre gets a table, but Steampunk only gets a minimal display - not that I'm biased…)
Nonetheless, I would have responsed sooner, but I was enraptured of a certain book… seriously, I'm a quarter through it, and remain impressed with your writing and detail - great work, Miss Priest!

Dr. R. Fabre