20,001: A Steampunk Odyssey

Attention all Steampunk writers! Kindling Press has made a call for submissions to their latest anthology effort, 20,001: A Steampunk Odyssey, a collection of Steampunk short stories.

Check out the specifics of the call right here, straight from the Kindling Press site:

Preference will be given to stories involving the Sea and its mysterious Denizens; submarine travel and related Contrivances; transoceanic Escapades, mysterious Islands, &c.

The preferred length of submissions is 2000 to 6000 words, but longer or shorter works may be considered on a case by case basis.  All submissions must be original works and cannot have previously appeared in any form. Only submissions formatted in Microsoft Word and written for the Steampunk genre will be accepted.

Send all submissions as attachments to submissions@kindlingpress.com no later than July 31, 2011.  Accepted submissions will be paid a modest fee, with a further advance to be paid if sales are sufficient to cover it.  Authors will retain full rights to their work beyond this original publishing, which will extend to both e-formats and a small run of traditionally printed copies.

Paid work for writers and you get to keep the rights to what you create?! Don’t miss this opportunity to get your work read by many a Steampunk with Kindling Press.

Airship Pirates and the Wrath Of Fate

The crew of the H.M.S. Ophelia has been hard at work creating a wealth of new goodies for their fans. In addition to plans for both an acoustic and electric album in the works, there’s also a tabletop RPG and a novel planned for the near future.

The tabletop RPG is entitled Airship Pirates and is set in the post-apocalyptic Steampunk world that Abney Park lives in. If you enjoy the alternative reality that Abney Park’s songs have created for you, you are sure to enjoy reading about the expanded vision of this world.

Airship Pirates is in its last week of production before being sent off to the presses, so its likely that you’ll be able to pick up your own copy and start kick off your own campaign soon enough!

Also due out soon is the Abney Park novel, The Wrath of Fate, which takes the snippets of narrative found in each Abney Park song and cobbles them together to form the overarching narrative of the band. The novel is expected to be released some time in August, and would be a great compliment to the RPG.

As soon as I hear about release dates and methods for acquisition on either of these new books, I’ll be sure to let you know here.

Next Town Over

Next Town Over is another webcomic with heavy elements of Steampunk and western fantasy incorporated into the storyline and aesthetic written by Erin Mehlos. The webcomic is beautifully drawn, features and intriguing and constantly unfolding story, and updates every Saturday and has been running since October of 2010. Since this is such a new webcomic, there’s no telling where the story might take us, so everything is wonderfully fresh.

Check out the webcomic’s first page below. It gives you a great initial feel for the comic.

To start reading from the beginning of the webcomic’s publication, please click here. And, if you happen to like what you see, you can follow Next Town Over via Twitter and Facebook.

Chester 5000 XYV

In what has been an excellent week for Steampunk publications here at Trial By Steam, today’s post features yet another outstanding Steampunk novel, this one, a graphic novel entitled, Chester 5000 XYV by Jess Fink. The story starts when a Victorian inventor determines to make a sex robot for his wife, and the ensuring romance between woman and machine.

The graphic novel started out as a webcomic, which you can explore at Jess’s website. Reader be warned, however, this is not a kid friendly comic and deals, rather graphically, with human and robotic sexuality and the pairings therein. If this sort of thing could possibly offend your sensibilities, offset your moral compass, or otherwise perturb you, Chester 5000 XYV is definitely not the webcomic and graphic novel for you.

Jess recently did an interview with All Over Albany that is really informative about the Chester 5000 XYV project. If you’re interested in the series or want to learn more about it, you should definitely check out the interview. It lends a lot of great insight into Jess’s own insight and opinions on his publication.

What Lies Beneath the Clocktower

Back in the day, I used to read choose your own adventure books all the time. I liked that I could read the same book and get a variety of stories based on the choices I make in the storyline. Like kids meals and discounts for minors, I was pretty confident that the choose your own adventure story format was lost to my past.

Turns out I was completely wrong, as a Steampunk Adventure-of-Your-Own-Choosing novel has just recently hit shelves. What Lies Beneath the Clocktower by Maggie Killjoy is a story filled with revolution, drugs, and romance in a remarkable fantasy world.

Here’s the description of the novel, straight from AK Press:

Descend into the depths of the undercity and embroil yourself in the political struggles of colonialist gnomes and indigenous goblins. Fly in air balloons, drink mysterious and pleasant cocktails, smoke opium with the dregs of gnomish society. Or dream and speak of liberation for all the races. Fall in love and abscond into the caverns. It’s up to you, because this is an adventure of your own choosing. From the founder of SteamPunk Magazine and editor of our very ownMythmakers & Lawbreakers comes this interactive novel of danger, drugs, and revolution.

This sounds like it’s full of complete win, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on my own copy. You can pick up a copy of your own from AK Press or Amazon.

13 Titles To Update Your Steampunk Book Collection

Steampunk’s humble beginnings are rooted in the novel. From Jules Verne all the way up to today’s modern authors, there is a wealth of Steampunk fiction just waiting to be read as a result of its current popularity, and there’s new stuff being published almost every day.

A recent article from Library Journal entitled, Steampunk: 13 Titles to Update Your Collections, advises librarians on how to grow their Steampunk collections with recent publications that attracted the author’s attention and garnered his praise.  The list is definitely worth your attention if you’re trying to stay at the forefront of Steampunk’s current publications and keep your personal libraries up to date.

The list is a rather comprehensive one, including nods to The Steampunk Bible by Jeff VanderMeer, Cherie Priest’s new novel, Dreadnought, and a few newcomers to the genre. Be sure to check it out!

A Review of The Clockwork Man

The Clockwork Man by William Jablonsky is the story of Ernst, a fully sentient clockwork driven automaton. The story is told by Ernst through a series of entries in his personal diaries and chronicles his life as he learns what it means to be alive, exercise free well, and about right, wrong, and the shades of grey in between.

The journal Ernst keeps is an exercise in self-reflection, and as a result, much of the story’s exposition is about Ernst’s inner thoughts and experiences. The story takes place in two parts, the first during the late 1880’s in Germany, and the second half in the United States in 2005 after his reawakening. This format effectively breaks the book up into two halves, and thus tells two related but markedly different tales as Ernst learns about the world in which he exists and the people who surround him.

I personally found that I enjoyed the first half of the book better than the second half; despite the odd romance and the contradictory notes on what Ernst is able to “feel” I found myself having to suspend disbelief in the second half of the book more so than in the first. Ernst seems to take his introduction into the modern world a bit too smoothly and seems more puzzled than alarmed or offended by his new world which contain many aspects which would be sure to alarm his Victorian era sense of decorum, and writes it off as an effort not to be judgmental. At the same time, he struggles with concepts of right and wrong, indicating that he has the ability and interest in discerning between the two.

Overall, though, The Clockwork Man is a good, quick read. It’s entertaining as long as you’re willing to suspend disbelief and simply enjoy the tale. Many of the themes in this book are interesting to explore and are likely to leave you pondering in between moments of reading, and that, to me, is part of the elements of a story well told.

The Complete Vangeline Cycle

Parliament and Wake is one of my favorite places for ongoing Steampunk fiction, and I love their pro-punk approach to Steampunk. They have some amazing fiction on their site, and much of it is a work in progress. The stories and the worlds created at Parliament and Wake are generally under perpetual development.

The Vangeline Cycle is a story series published by Parliament and Wake that has reached its completion and is now available in its entirety for your reading pleasure. It’s free to read, so check it out now!

After you’re finished reading The Vangeline Cycle, check out the poem that inspired the work, Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

There’s also tons of fantastic reading to be enjoyed at the larger Parliament and Wake website, so be sure to check it out.

The Airship Ambassador’s Bookstore

Steampunk’s rich background and initial inspiration comes primarily through literature, so it’s of little surprise that there is a huge selection of Steampunk literature to enjoy. I’ve featured reading lists here in the past to help you, my readers, become more familiarized with Steampunk literature as a whole (like this one).

There’s so much coming out that caters to Steampunk sensibilities and interests that it’s sometimes hard to keep up.

To this end, The Airship Ambassador recently started a book store that features Steampunk reading material. There’s all sorts of books here, catering to a wide variety of reader interests. Unfortunately, the Airship Ambassador’s bookstore only ships to the US at present, but at the very least, you can use its listings to help choose your next read.

Victorian London.org

Continuing on yesterday’s history lesson, I found another excellent resource for history lovers. This one, however, focuses on Victorian London and is packed full of interesting reading material on the subject.

Victorian London.org is an archive and resource for people interested in learning more about how life was lived in the seat of the British Empire.

What is particularly interesting about this website is all the primary resources and documentations available for your perusal. There’s all kinds of topic here for your exploration, from Religion and Science to Politics and Crime. Primary resources on so many facets of Victorian life can often times be hard to get a hold of, making Victorian London.org a invaluable site for anyone interested in the historical backbone of Steampunk.

Also of interest is the website’s extensive dictionary of Victorian terminology and slang, which both writers and character actors will likely find interesting and informative.