Thursday, November 24, 2011

Processed Cheese and a Man Named Fred

I don't often blog about the third personality in my blog title, that is to say, The Temp.  Why?  Well I am not consistently temping, and most of the time there isn't much to tell really.  It's the usual office work, you know how it is.

But yesterday I had such a surreal experience in the guise of something perfectly normal that I felt I would briefly share.


I was called last minute to help put together some packages for a marketing company's mail out.  I went to the mail room and was introduced to Fred, a lovely older gentleman with white hair and glasses, who towards the end of the day announced he'd forgotten to take his arthritis medication.  Fred far prefers theatre over movies, doesn't really read books (though his wife loves them), but does enjoy magazines.  Has been married three times, and is totally in love now.  He hates people who can't own up to their mistakes, and in general dishonesty makes him extremely mad.

I learned all this, you see, after working six hours with him, stuffing test samples of processed cheese into FedEx boxes.  You take one package marked "Try Second", put that in the package, then you put in an ice pack, then the second package marked "Try First".  Then the package is sealed up and slipped into a box with a survey placed on top.  Address labels go on, and then I assume these packages get whisked off across the country.

Yup.  That was my day yesterday.

Or to put it another way:

I spent the day yesterday in the mail room stuffing cheese into FedEx boxes with a guy named Fred.

Seriously.  How ALEX AND THE IRONIC GENTLEMAN is that?

Fred asked me, "Do you ever get inspired by the temping jobs you do?"

Yes Fred, I do.  I certainly do.

Monday, November 21, 2011

From my blog archives: Chasing Trends

So I have a rather busy day today and thought that instead of skipping posting all together, I'd go through the archives and find a post that I think is still relevant and totally and utterly fabulous, and re-post it today.

I chose CHASING TRENDS because the subject really never gets old.  It's a question I see a lot on forums still: "What's the next big trend?" "What are agents looking for now?"

Anyway, here you go, I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I have felt for some time now that agents/editors blogging is both a great and slightly unhelpful phenomena. It's great because it removes some of the mystique behind the publishing process, demonstrates, you know, that agents and editors are human beings. These blogs also provide practical information: the art of the good query letter, what that particular agent likes to represent etc. They also offer excellent networking opportunities through the comments sections.

They are less helpful when they confuse authors.

The problem with these blogs is that each agent has a slightly different philosophy on the industry. Each agent has a slightly different set of requirements for his/her query letters. Each agent . . . is different. And authors sometimes can find themselves trying to appeal to every agent in one magical query letter or whathaveyou. This is next to impossible. (I wrote about this idea in more general terms here).

What also makes life more confusing for authors are the posts about current trends. I personally find them very interesting, and love it when agents talk about what's hot and what's not. But unless you just happen to have a completed novel in one of those genres of the hot variety that you've been scared to send out and this news gives you the impetus to do so, I say, enjoy these posts on a "Well now that's quite interesting" level.

Because, seriously? Current trends are pretty darn meaningless.

The thing is - publishing takes a long time. A very long time.

Let's say you have an agent already. Let's say that agent has sold your work. It will still be close to TWO years before the book is on the shelves. And there is simply no predicting what will be popular in two years. Before the DaVinci Code came out, do you think editors were looking for religious conspiracy novels? Ah, no. In fact I would venture to say if such books crossed their desks the response would be along the lines: "Too controversial." Yet suddenly this book strikes it huge and every other book on the shelf looks like some cheap knockoff (yes, even those books knocked off by Brown himself somehow still managed to look like that).

I'm not saying it isn't important to keep up with what's hot in the industry right now. I think being educated is always a smart move.

But instead of freaking out trying to write an epic love story about vampire pirate time travelers, because some agent mentioned it once in passing, try freaking out about writing a really compelling novel. Something that interests you, something where your passion obviously shines through.

My personal experience is a pretty good example of this. Alex was rejected because it was "too old fashioned". In fact when you look at the facts, Alex is definitely not what you would consider trendy. First off it's long. Around twice as long as most novels in its genre. It's also episodic, which is an outdated form of storytelling. These days we prefer our soap opera, what happens next, kind of stories. The protagonist is a girl, and I know that many MG editors are looking for male leads to entice boy readers. The language is complicated, sometimes even archaic. And I use author intrusion, which while very popular in Lemony Snicket, really is not what is desired in novels in general, let alone children's books. In fact I have read articles advising strongly against it.  I easily could have decided that, "No, this isn't what people want right now, I'm not going to write it."

Yet . . . I still managed to find people interested enough in spending time with me to edit it and then eventually publish it.

There are so few things we can control as authors. We can't control what an agent/editor likes or dislikes. We can't control the economy. We can't control readers deciding they'd rather watch a movie. But we can control the words on the page. We can write our story, choose our words, play with characters. We can edit a manuscript over and over again until it shines. That, at least, we should feel some power over.

So I say instead of grasping at some trend's tailcoat, let's start our own! It will be brilliant! It will be delightful! It will be the trend to end all trends!

. . . and we shall call it . . . Carl.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


So the HUNGER GAMES trailer came out this week and I figured why not share it here!  After all, I'm a huge fan (lest we forget, I contributed an essay to THE GIRL WHO WAS ON FIRE: YOUR FAVORITE AUTHORS ON SUZANNE COLLINS' HUNGER GAMES TRILOGY) and am beyond excited to see this movie.

Thus on the off-chance you haven't seen it yet. . . check it out below.  Also, what are your thoughts?  Does it live up to expectations?  I must admit to getting butterflies watching them enter the arena, and am very pleased with both Lenny Kravitz and a blue haired Stanley Tucci :) .

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Hangman" Reading - by Jason Maghonoy

For those of you in Toronto, tomorrow night there's a staged reading of my friend (and incredibly talented playwright) Jason Maghanoy's new work "Hangman".  I strongly urge you to check it out.  His writing is always fresh, funny, clever and poignant, and the cast doing the reading is fantastic:  Stuart Hughes, Jeff Irving, Araya Mengesha, Dylan Trowbridge and David Fox!   It's also directed by Richard Rose.

So here's the info if you are interested:

Thursday, November 17th, 2011
Tarragon Theatre
30 Bridgman Avenue

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Steampunk Tuesday - Social Gatherings

Kenneth Shelley, Ashley Kung, J.M. Frey, Me

A short one for today, but no less fabulous.  I realise that the internet is international, but I thought I should share some links for my fellow Canadians who were beginning to get interested in Steampunk.

When I was manning the Steampunk table at FanExpo a lot of people were curious exactly how one met other Steampunk people.  What one did with the Steampunk.  Granted yes, people make Steampunk things and sell Steampunk things, but there are also social gatherings of Steampunkers that happen on a regular basis.  Again, I can only speak to some of the Canadian ones, but if anyone has knowledge of any others in other parts of the world please do share in the comments section below.

Steampunk Canada
Probably the most comprehensive listing for Steampunk activities across Canada.

Toronto Steampunk Society
Specifically for those Steampunkers in Toronto, there are many scheduled events in the city - walks, photoshoots, pub gatherings - and this page is actively updated every day. 

Steampunk Ottawa
Similar to the TSS.  Only if you, you know, live in Ottawa.

And don't forget about, where you can search for any events happening in your region, and can totally use the keyword "Steampunk".

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

THE PATTERN SCARS - by Caitlin Sweet

So this past Saturday was the launch of a new novel by the amazing author Caitlin SweetTHE PATTERN SCARS.  It was a very exciting event that took place at Bakka-Phoenix Books.  And not just because I got to get my fortune read (evidently I must be patient, which is unfortunate. I am so not good at the patient), but this novel of Caitlin's is a long time coming.  I've been fortunate to share much of the journey with her.  Well not so much "share", as the experience was hers and hers alone to conquer, but to hear tales of over lunch and drinks and be in awe of her perseverance.

If ever any of you have been frustrated trying to get a work published, her story is one that will uplift you.  She published two novels back around 2005, and since then had difficulty with this particular novel (both in actualising it and finding it a home).  It took her a while to find it a publisher, but she did at the amazing Canadian press ChiZine - a publisher of literary dark SF/Fantasy.  Also they have some of the most gorgeous covers in the biz.

So THE PATTERN SCARS has a home now.  I have yet to read it, but I am told it is heartbreaking and beautiful and I wouldn't expect anything less.

Congratulations once more, Caitlin, you deserve so much positive karma right now!  Your patience has definitely paid off and is truly an inspiration.  So maybe I need to listen to my fortune teller a bit more closely . . . :) 


Nola is born into poverty in Sarsenay City. When her mother realizes that Nola has the gift of Othersight and can foretell the future, she sells her to a brothel seer, who teaches the girl to harness her gift. As she grows up, she embraces her new life, and even finds a small circle of friends. All too soon, her world is again turned upside down when one of them is murdered. When a handsome, young Otherseer from the castle promises to teach her, she eagerly embraces the prospects of luxury beyond what she can imagine and safety from a killer who stalks girls by night. Little does she know that he will soon draw her into a web of murder, treachery, and obsessive desire that will threaten the people and land she holds dear, and that she will soon learn the harshest of lessons: that being able to predict the future has nothing to do with being able to prevent it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Steampunk Tuesday - The Steampunk Scholar! aka Mike Perschon

So last week I featured a list of Steampunk books as recommended to us all by the Steampunk Scholar aka Mike Perschon.  And today, I am posting an interview he was so kind to do with me.  I met the fellow at the Canadian National Steampunk Exhibition and even sat on a panel with him.  The man's knowledge of Steampunk is impressive.  And it ought to be, considering he's doing his PhD on the subject.

But I digress.  Here's the interview.  Do check it out, I think his answers are just fantastic.

Here's his website:

What got you interested in Steampunk?

I’d heard the term in a few different contexts, but my current interest resulted from choosing a topic for my doctoral dissertation. I was either going to do Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero as dystopic intertext, or steampunk. My Master’s advisor said, “Dystopia’s been done to death, and if you do steampunk, I’ll be your advisor again,” which really decided it, because we have a great working relationship.

You have a very specific definition of it, briefly what is it and how did you come up with it?

I speak about steampunk as an aesthetic that gets applied to other genres. The steampunk aesthetic combines a Industrial Era look or feel (neo-Victorianism) with a postmodern view of the past (retrofuturism) and technology that has the appearance of science, but none of the rigor we see in hard SF (technofantasy). Those three things, applied together, produce the look we call steampunk.

You are currently pursuing your PhD on the subject, what inspired you to do so and what is your end goal?

I was being pragmatic: I wanted to do something fresh, something that didn’t have a wealth of scholarship to compete with. Beyond that, it was a topic I could see myself being interested in for four to six years, which is the estimated length a literary doctoral degree takes to complete. My end goal is really just to get to get the PhD, settle into my work at Grant MacEwan University, and use the four months I get off every year to write fiction and spend the summer with my family.

What would you say is the most controversial topic within the Steampunk community?

The idea that the “punk” in steampunk constitutes a necessary political position, which I take umbrage with: there hasn’t been a hell of a lot of steam in steampunk, so why is it necessary to have punk? That’s not to say I’m opposed to oppositional politics in steampunk, but it’s exclusionary and somewhat pejorative to say that politically-themed writing is steampunk, and everything else is steampulp. Some of the best early steampunk, like Tim Powers’ Anubis Gates, would be steampulp by that rubric.

Does Steampunk hold any kind of "mirror up to nature" and if so, what does that mirror reflect do you think?

I think all texts are mirrors of the world, but steampunk’s mirror allows us to see the world with unexplored frontiers again, to respond to cynicism with romanticism, and engage in playful modes of writing, whether the writer’s agenda is serious or whimsical.

Where do you think Steampunk is heading? What is its future?

I really don’t know. I made some projections a year or so back, and they were largely correct, but I’m hesitant to prognosticate the future of a scene so big as steampunk. As far as the literature goes, my guess is that the future of steampunk is in space. And understand, I’m not saying I think that’s where it should go. It’s just that literary steampunk seems to be asking how to be the next big thing, and since zombies, vampires, fantasy, science fiction, superheroes, pirates, romance, and westerns have all been steampunked, it’s time to go into outer space. Or maybe inner space – given the roots in the nineteenth century, it’s interesting how few steampunk tales deal with Journeys to the Centre, outside Rudy Rucker’s Hollow Earth and a moment in Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day.

Does it have staying power or is it just a fad?

Both. The hype generated by media exposure will die down, but there’s a dedicated core of people who dig steampunk in various ways who will keep the gears turning long past any mainstream popularity.

If there was only one Steampunk book you would recommend, what would it be and why?

It would really depend on who was asking, since I’ve read enough now to be able to ask a person their tastes, and approximate the best steampunk book to introduce them to the aesthetic. For academic big-heads, I’d say Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day; for young adults, I’d say Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan; and for people just looking to enjoy themselves, I’d say Gail Carriger’s Soulless.

You've been to many Steampunk cons, what's one of your favourite moments from those events?

I can’t do one, but I’ll give you three: receiving my goggles from Legion Fantastique, a Verne-improv group from San Francisco at my first con, reading from Soulless with Gail Carriger at Steamcon II in Seattle, and having Gary Gianni tell me I look like a young Orson Welles at Steamcon III.

Carriger and the Scholar reading.

What is your favourite personal Steampunk accessory?

I have a gorgeous leather slipcase for a writing pad that was given to me by good friends who accompanied me to some cons. It even underscores the aesthetic: the exterior slipcase has the steampunk look, while the interior is a regular coil-bound notebook. The illusion of steampunk, tucked under my arm. It goes to every con now: it’s the perfect accessory for a guy who calls himself a steampunk scholar.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Social Networking 101

The funny thing is I never considered myself particularly brilliant at computers/Internet.  Nor did I ever think I was particularly brilliant at networking - social or not :) .  But I have come to realise that simply by virtue of the fact that I am online so darn much, I have acquired a series of skill and a knowledge of "rules" that might be valuable to others to know.  Especially fellow authors.  I think there are many of us being told by agents or editors etc to get on the social networking bandwagon and yet many of us have no clue where to start, nor really the difference between each form.

Today I'm going to do a very basic explanation of what each social networking platform is, and the "rules" for each said platform.  If you have any follow up questions, or wish to contribute your own insights to my own, please do post a comment below.  After all, all I've learned about this stuff came from other people helping me out.  We gots to look out for each other!

- a website is a piece of internet real estate.  It begins with www and is followed by the name of the site.  That name is called a DOMAIN NAME.  So has the domain name of ""
- variations of this domain name can end in .ca .org .net.  These all are different from each other. In theory someone could own and that would be a different website to mine at .com.
- you will have to purchase two things in order to have a website.
  • You will have to purchase your DOMAIN NAME 
  • You will have to find someone to host your site, ie: someone who will rent the space on the internet to you
Notes: sometimes your domain name is already owned by someone else, so you need to come up with something different.  For example, when I got my book deal for THE FRIDAY SOCIETY I wanted to buy as a domain.  But someone already had it.  So instead I bought  Sometimes if all the name options are taken you can consider buying a .net or .org instead.

- there are many different ways to create a website.  There are templates like WORDPRESS.  With something like WordPress you don't necessarily need to know the internet code called HTML to design and create your website.  But most websites are created using that code.  Therefore often most people will pay web designers to design for them since they don't know html.

A website is your home address.  It is a place to post your biographical information, your bibliographical information, News, Frequently Asked Questions, Appearance updates, pictures, fun facts etc.  I like to tell people to imagine a kid is assigned a project on researching you and goes to your website to do so.  What kind of info do you want that kid to have for his project?

People don't expect websites to be updated as frequently as any of the other platforms in this list, but you do need to keep it up to date.  You want people to return to it of course.  You want it to be the ultimate place where people can get accurate information about you.  You want it to be easy to navigate, so make sure links are listed obviously.  You want people to know that if they click on BIOGRAPHY that's exactly where they will wind up.

It can sometimes seem like a fun idea to have lots of flash or moving things on your site, but you don't want to overwhelm a visitor.  You want the site to look good, of course, to have a personality, but the primary objective of a website is to deliver information easily to a visitor.  Also music and a flash intro?  Most people mute the music and "skip intro".  I say, it's not worth the effort to have either.

- a blog is an online journal that the public can read.
- Blogs tend to be free and tend to have the Blog website listed as part of the name of the blog.  So the domain name of my blog is "ididntchoosethis" with the blog website that hosts my blog as the next bit "blogspot" followed by "com"  (all separated by dots of course:
- there are exceptions, sometimes people will have a blog designed for them and therefore they don't need the "blogspot" after their domain name
- in the blogosphere the two most popular blog websites that offer free templates to use are BLOGGER (ie BLOGSPOT) and LIVE JOURNAL
- the advantage to a blog is that it's free and very very easy to use.  When you are behind the scenes in your blog, it is very clearly explained how to post pictures how to post text, how to change the look of the blog.  You don't need to know html.

- some people use blogs as surrogate websites and it can be a good idea if you are just starting out.  The problem with blogs is, unlike a website, people expect blogs to be updated frequently.
- blogs are used to write posts about the business, about the creative process, about events etc.
- I recently was trying to explain to someone what I considered the best kind of blog post, and in the end it came down to: people want to connect with what you are writing.  They are looking for a kind of truth, an honesty, be it emotional or professional.  Even if in your blog you aren't sharing every nitty gritty thing about you (see blog rules below), you want your readers to trust that you are sincere, that you are sharing something because you want to share something, not because you want people to pay attention to you.
- This leads to the:

- unlike websites, blogs take us into "conversation" territory.
- You want to post something that you think will interest people.  That they will feel inclined to share as a link on their blog or twitter or something.  That they will want to comment on.  As I said above I think the best way to do this is to be sincere and honest.
- At the same time, a blog isn't a diary.  Sure some people have become famous for venting every little thing, but often these people still do it with wit and charm.  It's also a very unique skill to be able to vent and be tolerable at the same time.  Most people don't have that skill.
- My point is, choose your words carefully, choose what kind of blogger you want to be.  Remember too that anything posted to the net is there forever.  Yes, even if you delete it.  It can still have been cached.  
- as an author I recommend being a professional in your blog.  I recommend being the same author you are online as you are in person at official events.
- the blogosphere is a community, and the more your participate on other blogs, the more people will participate on yours.  So go to similar blogs, comment in the comments section, offer to exchange links with a blog you think is awesome (I'll link to your blog on mine, you'll like to mine on yours).  And don't forget to respond to comments on your own blog.

- the King of social networking sites, it only works because everyone is on it. 
- it's like a giant mall, where everyone you've ever known is hanging out.
- You get a personal page where you can post pictures, your likes and dislikes.  You also have what is called a "Wall" where you can post "status updates", things that you are thinking about, links to interesting cat videos.  A place where other people can post the same things, or if they mention you in their updates or notes or tag you in a picture, they appear as well.
- there are so many things to do on Facebook that really the only way to get to know it is to explore it.  I tend to find most of my friends use it as an alternate email (you can send private messages), as a way of organising and inviting people to events.  And a place to post silly things on their own and their friends' walls.
- speaking of Friends.  People will ask to be your friend.  When you agree to be someone's friend that means they have access to see your photos and post on your wall and communicate with you.
- a big issue you likely have heard about with Facebook is privacy.  There are ways to make your setup more private but it requires you to actively go into your Account and Privacy Settings and change things so not everyone on the planet knows your business.  For example, you can set up Facebook so that only your approved "Friends" can see your wall/profile/etc.  If anyone who isn't my friend searches for me on Facebook, they get a very basic page with not much information.

- I see Facebook as primarily social, a place where I spend time with actual friends (that is to say, people I also see in real life, not just online)
- However there is something called a "Facebook Fan Page" which authors can take advantage of.
- This is a page separate from your normal Facebook page.  You set it up to be your professional spot on Facebook.  It's a page very similar to your normal page, with a wall and a place to post pictures, and people can write on your wall etc.  But it's a place where you can be totally professional.  Where people won't stumble on pictures of you on the beach at your cottage.  Anyone can access one of these pages, it's public.  Here's my Facebook Fan Page.
- instead of asking to be your "Friend" and you having to approve their request, people can simply "Like" your page.  They don't need to ask your permission.

- pretty similar to blogging rules, be the person on your Facebook Fan Page that you would be at any professional in person engagement.
- update your page frequently with news or just cool things you find . . .cool.
- and make sure to respond to people when they comment.  Remember, social networking isn't a lecture, it's a seminar - a back and forth.

- ah the totally confusing concept of Twitter.  It seems that until you engage in Twitter you have no idea what its purpose is.
Here's my attempt to explain it:
-Twitter is a website where you sign up for a Twitter account.  Like with a blog, your personal Twitter website will have the "twitter" in it.  So:
- On Twitter you write little tiny posts, no longer than 140 characters.
- Basically I imagine that the people who came up with Twitter thought: "You know, Status Updates on Facebook are fun, what if there was a social networking site that was ONLY Status Updates??"
- there are some important differences though between Facebook and Twitter:
  • On Facebook people "friend" you and you have to approve them
  • On Twitter people "follow" you and unless you "block" them or "report them for spam", your approval isn't required
  • On Facebook you can set up your private Facebook account to only be viewed by approved friends.
  • On Twitter anyone can see your tweets if they type in your Twitter address
Do you see what's going on here?  Yes.  Twitter is more akin to a Facebook Fan Page, then the normal Facebook page.
- this means everything you tweet goes public.  Anyone, including your mother, can see your tweets.
- this is important because there have been many many many incidents where authors have said something naughty and have gotten in a great deal of trouble because of it because Twitter is PUBLIC.  Even though you can delete tweets, it can often be too late because someone has seen your tweet and maybe taken a screen cap of it or something.

- Other Twitter facts:
  • you can only send private direct messages to someone if you are mutually following each other.  This is the ONLY time tweets are private and not public.
  • Hashtags (#) matter.  You might see me, let's say, tweet something like this:  "OMG, have you seen these goggles?  They are so cool! #Steampunk" - any word that follows a # can be clicked on and then suddenly the Twitter Feed (the place where all the tweets by the people you are following show up) changes to a list of tweets by people using #Steampunk.  Anybody else who is interested in the same hashtag can read your tweet.  Including people who aren't following you.
  • if there was any social networking site where "it's a conversation, not a lecture" matters most, it's here.  Reply to people.  This isn't just a place to show off, it's a place to engage, to have conversations, to make new friends. 

- networking, networking, networking
-Some might also say marketing, but see the problem is, people have gotten wise to the "hey everybody buy my book!" technique and can I just say . . . they HATE it.  Can you blame them?  It's really boring following someone and seeing nothing but self promotion in their feed.
- people want to follow compelling people.  They don't want to feel like they are being taken advantage of.
- this means that when you tweet, tweet about your books, sure, but also tweet about the writing process, share a link about a cool new toy you saw or a news article that frustrates you and, like I said above, reply to people.
- I mentioned hashtags above, well there are a lot of literary conversations that happen on Twitter on a regular basis where if you click on the hashtag you can easily follow.  ie: #litchat

- how do you get people to follow you?
  • follow people: as an author follow bookstores, libraries, authors, agents, editors - you can do a search and type in key words like "author" or "library" to find such types
  • reply to tweets that interest you, engage in conversation
  • engage in hashtag chats, I've met so many cool people that way

- think, please please please, think.  Think before you Tweet.
- don't just self promote, get involved, get to know people
- have fun.  People think Twitter is a chore when they don't know it, but Twitter is probably one of the easiest ways to engage people.  It takes but a moment to write a Tweet, less time certainly than writing a blog post (any guesses how many days this one took?).
- share, but don't share everything.  Like I've said with all the other posts, be the person you'd be in person at a professional engagement.

- I'm going to be perfectly honest with you guys about this one.  I really feel that right now Myspace is pretty useless for an author, or indeed most people aside from musicians.  People abandoned it as a social site when Facebook came along, and the only people who really still use Myspace are musicians because it's extremely easy to upload videos and music to that site.  I myself abandoned Myspace when I realised that I wasn't going to miss out on any networking opportunities since most of my fellow authors had already left.  Considering how time consuming social networking can be, it's wise to take stock and if you can abandon a platform, do.  Because it's one less thing you have to tend.

I know very little about Google+.  I am not an early adopter.  I wait and see what happens with things before I jump on board.  I joined Facebook late, Twitter late.  I waited to see who would win the war between HD and Bluray.  I have no need for the prestige of being one of the pioneers.  I want to know if something is worth my time and money after many many people have come to some kind of conclusion. 

I get the impression that many people approve of Google+ though like with all these platforms there are privacy concerns.  I think it is best for me to now link to friend and fellow author Debbie Ridpath Ohi, a total technophile, who has posted her very positive thoughts about Google+ here

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Steampunk Tuesday - Books!

So I skipped a week of blogging due to being generally overwhelmed with work etc, but I'm back baby!

And what a perfect day to come back on, it's Steampunk Tuesday!  Sweet!

In a previous Steampunk Tuesday we did movies, and I thought it only right to do books this time around.  Because books are awesome.  And they also help us define further what Steampunk is. 

(Because I still maintain, though others disagree [which is cool, man, it's cool] that Steampunk has not exploded onto the scene quite yet.  My proof: my need to constantly define what it is.) 

At any rate.

I gots a couple lists for you.  But I gots to be upfront about them.  They aren't created by me.  Instead they are by the amazing Steampunk Scholar (interview with him coming soon): Mike Perschon.

If you ever felt that my attempts to define and dig into Steampunk were ever so slightly superficial, please check out his blog of awesome.  The guy's doing his PhD on the subject:  Steampunk Scholar.

I have mad respect for this guy, and I very much approve of his lists, so it felt a little silly recreating them when I could just give him the credit for them in the first place. 

Now he has a top ten list of his favourite Steampunk books (which I'll be posting at the bottom of this post), but I like it when he divides up the categories - simply for educational purposes.  If you want something more contemporary, or if you are looking for a classic, they are easier to find in this set of lists.

We begin with his Top Ten New Steampunk (2000 - 2009  <------ yes, this means the list is due for an update, but it's still a pretty great list):

  1. Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon
  2. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
  3. The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist
  4. Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia
  5. Fitzpatrick's War by Theodore Judson
  6. Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel
  7. Boilerplate by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett
  8. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
  9. Soulless by Gail Carriger
  10. Whitechapel Gods by S.M. Peters

I feel a need to add the following mention as this book was listed 5th in our Scholar's Top Ten (as well as his Top Five for 2010) list but was published in 2010 - thus after the above list was created.  And that would be Cherie Priest's DREADNOUGHT:

Now we move onto his Top Five Classic Steampunk (1971-1999):

  1. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
  2. Anno Dracula by Kim Newman
  3. The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives by James Blaylock
  4. The Steampunk Trilogy by Paul DiFilippo
  5. The List of 7 by Mark Frost

And in case you are curious, here is the Scholar's Top Ten Steampunk Books:

  1. Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon
  2. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld 
  3. Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist
  4. The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder
  5. Dreadnought by Cherie Priest
  6. Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia
  7. Fitzpatrick's War by Theodore Judson
  8. Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel
  9. Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
  10. The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives by James P. Blaylock