Sunday, June 23, 2013

Steampunk at Comicpalooza by Maeve Alpin

Steampunk made a big impact at Comicpalooza in Houston last month. Beginning Friday, May 24, due to my Steampunk/Erotica/Romance—Conquistadors In Outer Space, one of the panels I participated in was Sex In Space this isn’t your brother’s Sci-Fi, with Lynn Lorenz, Belinda McBride, Jacqueline Patrick and me. In our quest as writers to bring romance and happy endings to deep space, our panel spoke about space regencies, space operas, steampunk and humanoid aliens with all the right parts.. I love human/alien sex scenes that are humorous and hot at the same time.
I had a blast, discussing the fun subject of sex in space. As humans, both passion and love are two of the strongest, most important emotions we experience. It’s that way for all humans. Passion and love were vital emotions to humans in the past, they are just as important and thrilling in the present, and that will definitely be the case in humanity’s future as well. Passion and love are so fulfilling to us, we imagine if there is life on other planets, those creatures will hold those emotions in high esteem as well. So it’s only natural stories involving space or other planets include passion and love.

Comicpalooza proved the perfect setting, for this provocative and intriguing panel, with plenty of costumed space creatures and space characters at the con, some are pictured here.

My Saturday began with my panel on Steampunk Egyptology, discussing mummies and the Victorians. Like we, modern men and women, are mad for zombies, Victorians were crazy about mummies. The whole revenge of the mummy premise was theirs. No myth or tales exist in Egyptian history about mummies coming to life and staggering around in all their grave wrappings. Scary, revenge seeking mummies are pure Victoriana.
It all began in 1821, when a theater near Piccadilly Circus held a public mummy unwrapping. Inspired by this event, author Jane Webb Loudon wrote “The Mummy, A Tale of the 22nd Century” in 1827. This was the first mummy story, one of the first sci-fi stories and one of the first sci-fi stories written by a woman. From time to time, I like to remind people that female writers, such as Mary Shelley and Jane Loudon, wrote sci-fi from the beginning and helped develop the genre.

Those Victorians loved their mummies and they loved mummy stories. Mummies proved a popular theme in many Edwardian and Victorian books. With so many mummy books, I’m going to only name the stories written by author’s you’ll recognize. 

First we have a short story, “Some Words with a Mummy”, written in 1845 by Edgar Allen Poe.
Then in 1869 Louisa May Alcott, of Little Women fame, wrote a short story, “Lost in a Pyramid: The Mummy’s Curse’s”. 
Next, we have The Jewel of Seven Stars, a full length novel written in 1903 by Bram Stoker of Dracula fame.  The Jewel of Seven Stars has two endings. On the third print run, in 1912, the publisher demanded Stoker change the ending. At the time, critics called the original ending too gruesome. I was able to read the original ending at google books. The first ending isn’t gruesome by today’s standards though it is horribly sad. Still, the original ending is clearly the best. 

Saturday night was the Steampunk ball. Every aspect of Comicpalooza was a carnival of the

fantastic and the ball was no exception. The music was merry the hall was grand and one and all came with their dancing shoes on, in costumes both elegant and outrageous. Buxom damsels in bustles and corsets and dapper men in Victorian attire swung their feet, kicked up their heels, and bounced at the ball. The highlight of the ball was the performance of Abney Park 


Sunday morning began with my Steampunk Tips and Quips panel.Delphine Dryden, (author of the Steampunk Epic nominated novella The Lamplighter’s Love and the Steam and Seduction series from Berkley),  and I discussed the variety of the genre. Writers and readers, take a look at Seampunk. Readers, you may find your favorite book or writers, you may find this genre fits your writing voice.
My individual definition on Steampunk is: Historical/sci-fi based on the idea of the technological revolution and the Industrial revolution happening together.

Delphine’s definition is: Alternate history with a Victorian-era feel in which gas-powered technology never achieved primacy. Instead, steam power, clockwork, and other technologies involving various batteries and lesser-known devices like the Stirling engine, were further developed and refined to meet those same needs. 

It’s considered that the genre began with authors, James Blaylock, K.W. Jeter and Tim Powers. As students at Cal State Fullerton, they read Victorian and Edwardian literature. In the mid 1980’s,they all lived fifteen minutes from each other, and would meet in a bar called O’Hara’s in Orange California. They drank beer, critiqued each other’s work and shared ideas. The term Steampunk is attributed to K. W. Jeter from a letter he sent to The Science Fiction Magazine, Locus, which they printed in their April 1987 issue. 


Here’s a tidbit of that letter: “Personally, I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for Powers, Blaylock and myself. Something based on the appropriate technology of the era; like "steampunks", perhaps...”

That was in the 1980’s. After the turn of the century, here in the 21st century, Steampunk blended into cross genres, such as Steampunk/Romance dear to my heart and Delphine’s. A cross genre that’s about four years old. So, even though Steampunk has been around since the 80’s these cross genres are brand new.
Steampunk Romance
Steampunk Erotica Romance – sometimes called Steamypunk
Young Adult Steampunk
Paranormal Steampunk
Fantasy Steampunk
Inspirational Steampunk
Steampunk Mystery
Steampunk Horror
Cowpunk – also called Westernpunk or Deadwood or Weird West 

The panel rooms are empty and the booths at Comicpalooza have been taken down and all the stars have gone. So we are left waiting for Comicpalooza 2014. Until then there are plenty of great steampunk romance books  to feed your steampunk fix.  

Maeve Alpin, who also writes under the pen name of Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 18 romance books. You can find her on her webpage also you can find more photos on comicpalooza at her pinterst board 



Tina Donahue said...

Wow - this is something - I love the costumes. Really like blue-skinned lady. :)

Maeve Alpin said...

Thank you so much Tina, I appreciate your comment so much. The costumes were fabulous. World Con is coming to Texas to San Antonio this year and I hope to go, I can't wait to see the costumes they wear there.

jean hart stewart said...

Learned a lot from this...have always wanted a definition of steampunk. Also had no idea my favorite Cornelia was also Maeve. What a talented writer you are, girl.

Cornelia said...

Thank you,Jean. I appreciate your comment and your kind words so much. I am so glad you liked the post.

Fiona McGier said...

We rented the movie "Hansel and Gretel, Witch Hunters". It's got a steampunk feel, since Hansel and Gretel wear old-fashioned clothing, but carry huge guns and grenades. Lots of improbably fight scenes, most giving a huge nod to Buffy, since Gretel is as kick-ass as her brother, played by Jeremy Renner. Pretty entertaining for a B movie!

Maeve Alpin said...

Thank you so much for your comment, Fiona. Hansel and Great Witch Hunters is on On Demand - I'll probably buy it now. I watched a movie on there today called Frostbite that I thought would be real funny but it was kind of dumb.