What is it about Steampunk that attracts me to both the literary genre and the Aesthetic? I could be flip and just say, “Because…” And yet, there is so much more to it than that.
I read my first Isaac Asimov collection when I was eight. I was a voracious reader, and the librarian at my primary school was already stretching my horizons. I was a horse-struck girlie, but there were never enough horse books to satisfy my greed to read; my fall-back genre was Science Fiction. Doctor Who was one of my favourite television shows and fuelled my interested in the genre. I also read a lot of fantasy, fairy tales, and myths and legends when the Science Fiction ran out; it was a great era for collections of myths from other cultures. Still, I read every Asimov book I could get my hands on.
When I got to high school, I managed to read my way through the school’s entire collection of Science Fiction, fantasy and horse books by Grade Ten. At this point, the high school librarian pointed out to me that Isaac Asimov also wrote non-fiction books. What a revelation! Soon I was enjoying nonfiction Science books as much as I enjoyed Science Fiction! I loved Science so much, I decided to do a science degree at university.
It was in high school was when my interest in history first began to emerge. I was very lucky to have a history teacher, Mr Strong, who also enjoyed reading Fantasy and Science Fiction. Incidentally, Mr Strong introduced me to the Lord of the Rings trilogy and to the alternate history genre. He encouraged me to see that history wasn’t ‘written in stone’ and was open to interpretation.
Over the years, my interest in Science Fiction never faded. If anything, my addiction became worse. I loved the movies, the television shows, the books, and the authors. I was a big fan of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, but I think my very first actual Steampunk novel was Harry Harrison’s ‘A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!’ Of course, Steampunk wasn’t called Steampunk at that time. Like its source genre, Science Fiction, Steampunk wasn’t named until well after the genre was established. However, I knew what I liked, and I liked that book. I was thrilled to find a trickle of other books like it … Richard Harland’s ‘The Black Crusade’ and Michael Pryor’s the Laws of Magic series.
It wasn’t until I met Ged Maybury through the medium of Facebook that I was able to put a proper name to the genre. And then my journey into the Steampunk world began in earnest.