Surprise, I have a lot of steampunk books. Some of them I’ve even finished reading. The Constantine Affliction was a book that just kept dragging me back to the iPad to read what happened next. The main characters are an investigative journalist and a bored aristocrat detective, with many other near-main characters taking up other spots on the roster. The titular Constantine Affliction is an STD that either kills the recipient or swaps their gender. Given how gender biased roles and responsibilities were in the Victorian era, this causes quite the uproar and a fair amount of cultural strain – and it’s explored nicely by the characters and in exposition.
The characters are fully formed, the world is an interesting construct, the science is a great mix of bonkers and plausible, and it has peaks throughout the book rather than building up to a big ending and that’s it. That last point is an important one; only 40% of the way into the book I had a “Wow, that’s a resolution” moment and was then quite happy to see I had a lot more to read.
It does take a rather abrupt turn part way through (that is admittedly firmly hinted at through the book but the shift from hint to clue-to-the-face was jarring) and it is a very well worn trope for the steampunk genre, but its great fun throughout that so easy to let the interrupting just drift past.
My thoughts are similar to other thoughts, however it appears that you must write a blog post about Bieber’s Christmas song in order to keep your steampunk license, so here goes.
Bieber’s music isn’t in my taste rainbow. I’m a Weird Al, Dresden Dolls, Tom Smith, Da Vinci’s Notebook kind of guy. My steampunk music tastes run through Sunday Driver, Clockwork Quartet and the Decemberists. So there’s not much point me commenting directly on the song itself (note, subtle foreshadowing!)
The set? I like it. It starts off with clockworks and is an industrial complex for making Christmas presents. You don’t get much more Industrial Revolution than that, they just needed to add more urchins. Seeing as this is tied in with Arthur Christmas, that makes sense too.
The outfits? Double plus like it. The clockwork girl is just magic, as are all the other dancers. I thank Kent Syfer Locke Gooch for pointing out that the Bieber one-glove is also a tie into his admiration for Michael Jackson; I had initially just thought it was a cool glove that he _actually used_. So I challenge the “stuck a cog on it” nature of his outfit.
The dancing? Again, the clockwork girl here stole the whole show for me. She just played it magnificently; but that said all the other dancers did a fine, fine job with it. Breakdancing being the rebellious dancing of the steampunk downtrodden made great sense to me.
Now back to the song itself. No it’s not steampunk. But it’s a Christmas tradition in the western world to have some current pop idol do a nearly unrecognisable version of a Christmas classic. So, again, Bieber is playing to type.
In summary, I thank Bieber’s agents for thinking steampunk would be a cool idea. Because really, steampunk is cool. I like it. Why should I be surprised if others like it? They’re allowed to like it for different reasons. And if they do start running around claiming that Bieber is the one to thank for starting steampunk; then we can just have fun with it.
A while ago I was contacted by the makers of Steampunk Magazine for the iPhone and asked to check out their application. I did, and it was fun, and inspired me to look into more Steampunk Books. A series that I really enjoy is the Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger.
The series is a comedy Victorian supernatural affair, with some mad science thrown in for good measure. It has a European focus, as most of the books in this genre do, but it has a feel for the European areas that seems overlooked by many other Steampunk writers. Heck, they even have Scotland featured in the first book rather than just London everything; very progressive. It goes beyond the Vampires, Werewolves and Spirits oh my trope as well, bringing in a new supernatural that fills its own niche very successfully. Its writing style is such that it really pulls you on from book to book; the series isn’t over yet but the author has announced a definitive End point being book five in the series (three was released in August) so the book has a life and an end point that I find VERY REASSURING *cough*Fantasy authors*/cough*. Each character has its own style and voice, but sarcasm is almost a universal constant in the main characters (which I love). Maybe that’s what powers the supernatural? The world Gail has built is brilliant and very well developed, delving into more of the world in each book.
As part of WorldCon, Gail Carriger came over to Australia and I got to meet her at an impromptu local book signing, and she was an absolute pleasure to talk with even if she had the gathering sprung on her. I joined her, her publisher friend and the owner of Pulp Fiction and heard some great news about upcoming Parasol Protectorate events that I’m not allowed to talk about. Suffice to say, it’s very much an ongoing affair and VERY worth your while.
Professor von Explaino discusses Aetherics with Gail Carriger
Buy online: , , (via Booko, great for Aus purchases, has links to online stores)