So I am on the second book of the Rail Legacy. Book One, An Unsubstantiated Chamber, is on sale now. But it’s classification would be, what? Steampunk? Yes. Superhero? Sorta kinda. Dystopian retro-futurism with lemon zing? Uh. Right. I got down to it early on how I wanted this to be, using a formula so simple a chikd can get it:
Yellow is steampunk, which in and of itself is a merger of past and future. While typically placed in Victorian times (like mine), it has the wonderful option of being any time or place, so long as it involves part two. The future (dah dah dah!). Steam power is more advanced, and is usually in the hands of those pesky 19th century empires we love to hate. Said technology often makes empires super-empires, ironically moving us closer to comic book land than most would care to admit. Caped dictator in mask with armored goons on ships! Sounds punk. Also sounds like Star Wars (hence the many steam versions of it). Also sounds like Doctor Doom and the Avengers. For the Victorian trappings, this time I am getting help from three books on the era: John Stilgoe’s the Metropolitan Corridor (how trains changed cities and society), Ernest Freeberg’s Age of Edison and Victorian America-Transformations in Everyday Life by Thomas J. Schlereth. All three give a wealthy deposit on the time period, and make my city, the Rail, breathe a Victorian air.
Blue. While the negatrite in my story is blue, this refers to comics. I love the genre, rhe medium, and hate the tired rhetoric that it’s for kids. Most books today have more comvat, blood and dire plots than any novel, but with fantastic art to boot. So it’s like visiting the art museum while hearing an overhead narrative. Even the old stuff, the Comics Code era, was grand in its ambitions. Superman and Batman tackle a giant robit that looks like tthemon a planet of birdmen. Ridiculous? Absolutely. But did it define a new genre, merging every one into a crazed melting pot. You betcha. But the ones with social values struck me, and maddened me. X-Men is about prejudice, but rarely seems to get to its own point between the crossovers and boring whose side are you on this month line drawing. Milestone in the Nineties introduced us to diverse and cool, and they are hopefully coming back. Til then, old issues and new groups like Overground will inspire me.
Green. In order to put two halves into a whole, I have to work hard at it. Lots of mental anguish. You see, the storytelling is different for either genre. Victorian writing was very intricate, full if kesser used English words modern readers loathe but I love. Lits of setail about houses and clothing and characters. Comics give you enough to get to get going. They’ve got action to get to. Big. Over the top. ACTION!
So I am on the see saw. During times of calm, Victorianish writing ensues. Action scenes take on a more direct approach, a fast zealous whirlwind. Then back to dialogue and description. Now, the opinions on this are divided. A few years of submitting short stories has taught me readers either want little world building and tons of dialogue (i.e. Andrew Greeley) or world building and fantastic adventure. But why not mix both?
That was my thing. Every time I digested the genres, the ways to tell stories, the answer was always the same. No extremes. Moderate. All the way. Sure this puts me on a tightrope, but an enjoyable one of a detailed fictitious world full of colorful characters and ibsane escapades. Hope I get it right each book. When I do dieselpunk and later atompunk, the formula will obviously differ. But for now, if you read the Rail Legacy, let me know if you see green.