Progress. I’ve made some on a number of fronts, but the one I’ll mention is writing. I’ve been busy in the past week or so–grading, preparing a few lectures, baking, handling some stuff that needed handling–but I’ve made significant headway with writing.
I haven’t leapt into the project I was hoping to get into this semester–though I will, hopefully later this month, or early next–but I have made significant progress toward getting a few new short stories, or reworkings of older ones, finished and ready to go out.
For the record, I’ve:
- heavily revised “Asshole Island” (previously “Instead of Pinochets”)
- made significant progress in reworking my steampunk robot uprising story, “The Clockworks of Hanyang” (and should be finished revising that by the weekend)
- edited and cleaned up a superhero short story (which I could pitch as Carmela Soprano + Watered-Down Libertarian Ann Coulter + superheroes) so it’s ready to get some feedback on
- drafted, in the last 24 hours, a new story titled “Trois morceaux en forme de mechanika”–which, yes, my clever readers, is indeed a reference to a work by Erik Satie (see here if you want to get the joke in the title). It’s more steampunk mechanika, set in the same world as “The Clockworks of Pyongyang” but it focuses on a different aspect of the of the steampunk robot uprising (as well as being vaguely in the same vein as Bruce Sterling’s “Twenty Evocations,” a piece I immediately admired, but didn’t take as a challenge until now. (It’s almost done, in fact the text is all done, but I need to reinstall Finale on my Windows partition to get the one missing section, part 6, part of it written, however… or, perhaps, composed is a better word for what I have left to do. Yes, an experimental story, yes, yes.)
A word about “steampunk”–I ended up writing in the genre mainly because of a conversation I had with my crit group about some criticisms of steampunk (the so-called Steampunk Kerfuffle) that had appeared online a few months ago. (Particularly, the comments by Charlie Stross and Catherynne M. Valente.)
For what it’s worth, my sense was that the criticisms–the inherent imperialism, racism, sexism, classism, and brutality of the Victorians is ignored in much of the giddy excitement over Steampunk, especially–was met by a defense that amounted to, “But I like Steampunk, and it’s fun!” Indeed, when I mentioned the criticisms, one of my friends said, teasingly (I hope), “You don’t like anything fun, do you?”
Oh, I do. One thing I delight in doing, for example, is taking challenges–so, yes, like Barney Stinson, I said…
So “The Clockworks of Hanyang” and “Trois morceaux en forme de mechanika” are my attempts to write something interesting, compelling, and even “fun”, while dealing with the things in the real Victorian era–and which also continue into our own, in some ways–that Charlie Stross noted in his post really are not so fun at all.
(Because, frankly, as I read it his post was less about the science, which he brings up and sets aside along the way, and far more about the disturbing revisionist-historical fantasy of Victorians we’ve been nursing in Steampunk.)
In places, these dare both quite dark stories, and also (perhaps cruelly) a little honest about some things we humans like to ignore, or pretend away. I wonder, briefly, whether they’re reaching back toward something of that “New Wave Intensity” that Karen Burnham recently brought up over at Locus.
Maybe these stories are feathers, more than chickens. But I get the feeling they may be necessary feathers–necessary for me, anyway. We’ll see what happens.