Tag: steampunk

Prayers of Forges and Furnaces up at Lightspeed Magazine


Lightspeed Magazine has published my Aztec Western/steampunk story “Prayers of Forges and Furnaces”, a reprint from Sean Wallace’s Mammoth Book of Steampunk .


The stranger came at dawn, walking out of the barren land like a mirage—gradually shimmering into existence beside the bronze line of the rails: a wide-brimmed hat, a long cloak, the glint that might have been a rifle or an obsidian-studded sword.

Xochipil, who had been scavenging for tech at the mouth of Mictlan’s Well, caught that glint in her eyes—and stopped, watching the stranger approach, a growing hollow in her stomach. Beneath her were the vibrations of the Well, like a calm, steady heartbeat running through the ground: the voice of the rails that coiled around the shaft of the Well, bearing their burden of copper and bronze ever downwards.

The stranger stopped when he came up to her. They stared wordlessly at each other. He was tall, a good two heads taller than Xochipil; he held himself straight, like an axle or a rod that wouldn’t break. The glint wasn’t a sword or a rifle, after all—but simply that of a dozen obsidian amulets, spread equally around his belt, shining with a cold, black light that wasn’t copper or bronze or steel, but something far more ancient, from the old, cruel days before the Change.

Read it here. Author spotlight here. And please remember to subscribe to Lightspeed or buy the issue–not only will you get the content early, you’ll also help support the magazine that brings you awesome fiction.

Linky linky


Handful of blog posts, while I’m off hammering more words on the novella:

-Ekaterina Sedia on “Challenges of Writing Alternate History Set in Other Cultures”. Some very interesting stuff–like, yeah, I could do an alternate history in which Gia Long’s eldest son acceded to the throne instead of Minh Mạng and Việt Nam was softer on Christian missionaries, but conveying the turning point and its consequences gracefully would require a looot of footwork to make you understand (and I can do the same with “obscure” bits of French history, too, and it would be hard too, though French history is less obscure than Vietnamese).

-Jess Nevins on “The ‘Problem’ with Asian Steampunk”. I’m a little… ambivalent about this? There are a lot of cool ideas here, but by and large they take the tropes of Victorian steampunk (the treasure hunter, the PI, the pirate) and make them more culturally appropriate than a mere cut-and-paste–basically, this is taking the blatant Orientalist out of steampunk, but I should think there’d be ways to do Asian steampunk with uniquely Asian tropes instead of warmed-up Western/Victorian ones (how about Chinese scholars trying to survive the upheaval of the Ming/Qing transition? Vietnamese building steampunk boats in order to resist the French encroachment?)
Yes, it’s the extremist in me again. I’m not against better “crossover” steampunk that uses this kind of trope (and some of these would definitely make for very interesting stories); but I’m also in favour of going yet further afield, and using the culture(s) more effectively? I’m thinking of Shweta Narayan‘s awesome steampunk series, which make good use of the Indian motifs of tales-within-tales even as they draw on Mughal history; but I’m pretty sure there are/will be others (if anyone wants to recommend good Asian steampunk? [1]).
At any rate, that’s my ambivalence towards lists like those, because they go, “ooh, check out those cool stories” without explaining what makes them cool. In this particular case, although you can argue some of those tropes are also appreciated in Asia (the martial art school, for instance), the sum total of them is a list of cool Victorian/pulp adventure tropes, which are more Western than anything else. Yes, I know, me splitting hairs again. It’s a tricky line to draw…

[1]Defined as “does not make me want to tear my hair out by exoticising or white-washing its protags”.

Various pubs


OK, slowly crawling back into some semblance of normal life (alas, the boxes are still winning the fight in our appartment, and I’m now officially behind on everything). But here’s a handful of things to keep you busy while I’m writing:
-First off, here are the first three chapters of Master of the House of Darts:

Aka, Teomitl finally gets a chance to be all official and formal, Neutemoc makes a much-awaited comeback. Oh, and a warrior dies of a curse.
The Best of BCS Year Two is now out, featuring stories by Marie Brennan, Saladin Ahmed, Yoon Ha Lee and more fabulous authors. And my own “Memories in Bronze, Feathers and Blood”. Scott H. Andrews does a tremendous job of publishing vivid and evocative fantasy, and if you haven’t already checked out BCS, this is a tremendous way to dip into the best of what the magazine has to offer. There are some really awesome stories here, and I put one of them (Kris Millering’s “The Isthmus Variation”) on pretty much every ballot I had for the year 2010.
-you can also get The Immersion Book of Steampunk, which also has “Memories…”, as well as stories by Tanith Lee, Paul di Filippo, Lavie Tidhar, and other cool writers. (and yay, I share another TOC with Tanith Lee. Nope, it never gets old…)

Steampunk or no steampunk


Couple interesting discussions/rants/funny stuff about steampunk courtesy of Charles Stross, Cat Valente and Cherie Priest–echoing some of the stuff I was saying earlier about what the 19th century really looked like.

Guess I picked a fine time to write Aztec steampunk… (seriously, though, I’m sticking with it for the moment, because it might not be rigorous science or rigorous history, but it makes me broach lots of interesting subjects. Don’t really read enough Victorian steampunk to comment on the above links, but it certainly makes one think. Giving me lots of story fodder, if nothing else).

Sneak peak at Age of Miracles, Age of Wonders


Via Andy Cox, the title spread for my upcoming “Age of Miracles, Age of Wonders” (forthcoming in Interzone 230, the very next issue).

Title page spread

Er, wow? I am *so* glad Interzone is back to full colour. It looks awesome! (plus, mechanical men. And fallen gods. And Aztecs. You can’t really go wrong with any of those).

Aztec steampunk


So, I’ve recently noticed I started writing Aztec steampunk (“Memories in Bronze, Feathers and Blood”, up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, “Age of Miracles, Age of Wonders” forthcoming in Interzone, and “Prayers of Forges and Furnaces”, which I haven’t sold yet). I’ve had several people mentioning how it’s a bit odd to be mixing Aztecs with the steampunk aesthetic, and that set me wondering about where I was coming from when I was writing that kind of stuff.
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